Rupert Penry-Jones: ‘I always like to win’

Silk and Whitechapel actor Rupert Penry-Jones stars with Endeavour actor Shaun Evans in a The Last Weekend, a new ITV1 adaptation of Blake Morrison’s menacing best-selling novel about a reunion of old friends at a country cottage.

TV&Satellite Week magazine caught up with Penry-Jones to find out more…

For those not familiar with the novel, tell us a bit about the story…

“It’s the story of a long weekend over an August Bank Holiday which, fuelled by alcohol, jealousy and one-upmanship, goes completely wrong. My character and the one played by Shaun Evans have one of those friendships that’s lasted since they were teenagers, but really they have nothing in common. They meet up every couple of years and when they do they’re very competitive. They try to outdo one another playing games.”

Was it fun filming the games?

“Not entirely, there was one scene where we had to swim naked in the sea. The nudity bit wasn’t too worrying, but the water was so cold it was overwhelming. I couldn’t feel my feet and I couldn’t stop shivering.”

Are you the competitive sort?

“Yes, I don’t see the point in playing any sport without trying to win. I like to win every game – even against my children, which makes me sound like a character in The Fast Show.”

Does that competitive edge stretch into your professional life, too?

“Actors generally have a competitive streak. It comes from the desire to succeed and get the parts that otherwise would go to someone else. There’s a rivalry between guys in most friendships, and I can see it in my own relationships with my actor friends. If one of them gets a job, I’m better now at saying, ‘Well done.’ But it is an effort. I do have to concentrate on being nice about the fact they got a great role.”

It’s very different from what we’re used to seeing you doing on television, isn’t it?

“The whole idea of filming something where I’m not in a suit was very appealing. I like the idea of being in something where it’s not about my job. I’m not a policeman here and not a lawyer.”

What’s next for you?

“I’m not planning any television, although I won’t turn down a good part if I’m offered one. But I think with Whitechapel, Silk and this, I should take a break from TV before people get sick of me.”

The Last Weekend begins on ITV1 on Sunday, August 19 at 9pm

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