My Celebrity Life

Matthew McNulty on losing work in the pandemic and shooting ‘liberating’ nude scenes in new film Running Naked

The actor, 38, on catching Covid, making a splash in Coronation Street and stripping off for his new film.

Your new film is called Running Naked – did you?

Yes! It was in an area of the hospital we had full control over, so it wasn’t too embarrassing, and we filmed in the summer so we weren’t too cold. It was liberating and nerve-wracking at the same time.

It’s been described as a film that will make you laugh and cry…

There are sad moments but it’s uplifting more than anything else. It’s about two cancer survivors, Mark and Ben [played by Andrew Gower], who are friends from being teenagers.

The title comes from the fact that when they were younger they streaked through the hospital naked. It’s also a metaphor for being free – running without the things that weigh you down.

Does it have a happy ending?

I play Mark, who’s now a doctor, while Ben is in a dead-end job and has obsessive tendencies. Ben is afraid of hospitals so Mark takes the blood into hospital for him when they have their annual check-ups.

The cancer comes back for one of them. It’s a changing point in the film. They’ve both lost their way and this diagnosis jolts them back to life.

Have you lost work due to the pandemic?

I was filming in Italy for Sky drama Domina when it first burst on to the scene. The job got cancelled. We’d shot half of it and we managed to go back last year to shoot the rest so I’ve been lucky.

However, at the end of the job I tested positive for Covid, so I had to isolate in Italy for nearly three weeks. I wasn’t majorly ill, I just felt run down.

At least you could tuck into some lovely Italian grub…

The production team got me some shopping but they sent so much pasta. I know I was in Italy but there’s only so much you can do with pasta and tins of chopped tomatoes and tuna!

I ate it for ages and then got very well acquainted with Deliveroo. It cost me quite a bit but there was more variety.

Matthew’s first job involved throwing stones at Corrie’s Bruce Jones(Picture: ITV/REX)

What was your first TV job?

I was on Corrie. I don’t think my character had a name, just Local Scally. It was with Bruce Jones, who played Les Battersby. Les was doing community service, and me and this other lad threw stones at him from an island.

He rowed over to the island to get us and we nicked his boat. It was quite a funny storyline. Even though it was literally only one episode, people remember it.

Have you ever been starstruck?

When I was in Return To Cranford I worked with Judi Dench. It was early in my career and my mother-in-law told me Judi had lived in the town next to us and that her father was a doctor.

She said I’d got to ask her about it so I felt I had to. One day there was just her and me together and I blurted it out. She smiled and said, ‘Sorry?’ She hadn’t a clue what I was talking about – she’d never lived there.

Afterwards I was like, I could have had a proper conversation with Judi Dench but I wasted it!

Why did you pick Matthew as your stage name?

For the simplest reason, it’s two syllables and it begins with M. I didn’t want to change my name but there was already another Michael McNulty registered with Equity.

As much as I was tempted to think of a cool name, I knew it wouldn’t be cool 20 years later.

An awkward moment with Judi Dench left Matthew red-faced (Picture: BBC)

You were born in Germany so how come you have such a strong Manchester accent?

My dad was in the army so I lived in Germany until I was ten. I adopted this accent when we moved to Wigan because everyone went, ‘God, you’re well posh, you!’

I didn’t fancy a Wigan accent, it was the 1990s and Manchester was cool, so I chose a Manchester one.

Do you find accents easy for different roles?

I was always good at copying them – I guess it is part of the reason I became an actor. I did a north-east accent for The Paradise and a Cornish accent for Jamaica Inn.

Even if the script doesn’t ask for a particular area, I tend to try to take it away from my own accent.

Would you like to make it big in the United States?

I’ve done one job in America. My character was a sheriff and when they saw me they decided to make me a deputy because I was so young and skinny.

They said, ‘Oh right, we’ll have to rewrite it because you don’t look as authoritative as you do on your self-tape.’

What do you enjoy away from work?

I read children’s stories. My wife used to have a social inclusion company. I’d go round schools and read stories and then I started putting them on YouTube.

Literacy and stories are important to me. People like me, from the school I went to, don’t really get encouraged to be artistic or to tell stories. The channel is called Books Alive! I’ve got 50 stories on there.

Running Naked premieres on ourscreen.com at 8pm on Thursday, with a portion of proceeds going to Teenage Cancer Trust and Weston Park Hospital. It’s available on digital platforms from Monday.

 


Credit: Original article published here.

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