Southcliffe actor Rory Kinnear plays the lead role in Lucan, ITV’s new two-part drama about the troubled aristocrat who’s thought to have disappeared after killing his children’s nanny, whom he’d mistaken for his wife.
Here, Rory reveals more about the man, whose life continues to fascinate many…
Did you know much about Lord Lucan when you took on the role?
“No, I didn’t know a great deal to start with. It kind of passed by my generation – I just knew about the ‘Is he still alive?’ part of the story. When I read about Lucan, I found all the books about him very conflicting. His friends saw him as quite a gentle, family man who was very protective of his wife, Veronica, at the start of their marriage. Unfortunately, she was totally the wrong person for him and the marriage soon became fractured.”
The drama focuses a lot on Lucan’s membership of Mayfair’s exclusive Clermont Club, run by John Aspinall, played by Christopher Eccleston [pictured right, with Rory], where he began spending most of his time…
“Lucan’s surrounded by a male dominated society that’s very much calling the shots for him. John Aspinall takes Lucan under his wing and fuels what he believes is a sense of betrayal by his wife, who wants to take his children away, and his desire for revenge.”
Is that when things begin to unravel for Lucan?
“Absolutely. The effects of the separation coupled with a lifestyle of drinking and gambling, meant Lucan’s addictions got worse, his debts got worse and his whole situation as a man got worse. By this point, it’s like he thinks he’s untouchable. People can’t believe Lucan actually murdered the nanny, though all the evidence suggests he did. However, as the story progresses, people may feel some sympathy for him.”
The day after the nanny was killed, Lucan disappeared without trace. Do you think his fate will always remain a mystery?
“We all have to make up our own minds about what happened to Lucan. There’s certainly the chance that he killed himself or one of his rich, shady friends could have made it possible for him to escape to somewhere else. Whatever happened and as much as Lucan’s life was surrounded by glitz, glamour, gambling and aristocracy, it’s essentially just a sad story of a marriage that went horribly wrong.”
This role required you to undergo quite a visual transformation. What was that like?
“As an actor, variety is the key for me; if you’re able to stretch yourself in lots of different ways, that’s great. It only took about forty minutes to get into costume, put on the moustache and the wig – it definitely helped with that quite austere and inanimate way the aristocrat can be.”
So, Lucan became addicted to gambling as a member of the Clermont set – did you develop a taste for it while filming this?
“I’ve been taught a few little tricks and learnt to play Ginny, which is the most ridiculous game in the world. You just try and beat the bank – there’s no skill to it at all it seems.”
Finally, you were one of the favourites to play the new Doctor Who before Peter Capaldi was announced. Are you pleased the secret’s out?
“Yes! Now we can all move on. It was strange – you never know where these things come from. I think they just needed to throw a name out there to distract people and it was me this time. I’ve never actually watched Doctor Who but I’m sure Peter will be very good.”
Lucan can be seen on Wednesday December 11 at 9pm on ITV1.