MICHAEL PRAED is unruffled as ever, but maybe just a bit put out. He is late for the interview to discuss his role in JB Priestley’s classic A Dangerous Corner…
“My car blew up,” he says indignantly. “I called the AA and apparently it’s dead, so I’ve got to get rid of the bloody thing. I think it’s God’s way of telling me to buy another one.”
With his quintessential English accent, Praed is perfect for A Dangerous Corner, Priestley’s classic 1932 thriller.
“It’s a sort of whodunit I suppose but the premise revolves around a character who subscribes to the notion that you should always tell the truth,” explains the actor, who came to prominence in the 1980s TV series Robin of Sherwood. “But one of the others says you shouldn’t, it’s very dangerous.
“Then one character gets caught out with a bit of a lie and from this everybody’s lies unravel. Mixed up in all this there’s a suicide, but was it a suicide and if it wasn’t, what was it?”
Praed is a big fan of JB Priestley, and explains: “A Dangerous Corner has got affairs and drug-taking and homosexuality, which for the 1930s would have been quite something. The clever thing about Priestley is that he doesn’t come down for or against, he just lets it happen and then lets you live with your own prejudices, which I think is very clever.”
The 54-year-old has been around a bit as an actor, starring on Broadway, appearing in US primetime soap Dynasty, narrating Timewatch for the BBC and, more recently, touring as Captain Von Trapp in The Sound of Music. But he’ll never escape his early reputation as the hunky ’80s version of Nottingham outlaw Robin Hood.
If he’s fed up with people mentioning it, it doesn’t show. “I’m tremendously proud of it,” he says. “There are actors I know of where you’re simply forbidden to mention the thing that brought them to prominence but I find that a bit churlish.
“I’ve probably heard every question about Robin Hood more than once, but I don’t mind talking about it, I loved it.”
Robin has since been played by the likes of Kevin Costner and Russell Crowe, but that leaves Praed unfazed. “Oh of course Russell Crowe did it, didn’t he?” he muses.
“Well, it would be foolish to compare because ours was a one-hour episodic TV presentation and theirs were two-hour movies. I’d never compare, it’s not worth it.”
As for Dynasty, he doesn’t seem quite as proud but is only too willing to talk about the glam soap. “At the time all those shoulder pads and big hair were the fashion,” he says. “You look at them now and they were absurd but it was the way it was.
“I was very fortunate, it was the number one show in the States at the time. I had come off a show on Broadway and was offered a chance to audition and I turned it down at first but then I thought, ‘I’m an actor and it’s a great opportunity’, so I went for it.”
As for his next move when the tour of A Dangerous Corner comes to an end, Praed says: “Absolutely no idea! On the balance of probabilities, nothing because 92 per cent of actors are out of work at any one time.
“It can be a brutal profession, you never know when or if the next job will come – but I love it, absolutely love it.
“If you ask any actor what they’d do if they could wave a magic wand, most will say an A-list film with an A-list director and an A-list script. The thing is, it could happen! It has happened to people before and it will happen again.Mostly I need to earn enough money to buy another car…”