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Monday, June 21, 1999 Published at 14:50 GMT 15:50 UK


More bite than Blackadder

Tim McInnery: Best known as the hopelessly wet Lord Percy

It's 10 years since he larked about as Lord Percy and Captain Darling in BBC TV's Blackadder but Tim McInnery finds his comic alter ego difficult to suppress.

On the street, he is approached as the nice but dim Lord Percy. In the Millennium Dome, Blackadder and crew will career through time in a specially made short film.

Even his recent big movie roles as William Thacker's friend Max in Notting Hill, and Tony Hawes in Rogue Trader - the story of how Nick Leeson brought down Barings Bank - smack of his softer roots.

[ image: As Captain Darling in Blackadder Goes Forth]
As Captain Darling in Blackadder Goes Forth
And all this despite his having an impressive and varied cv of serious theatre, TV and film roles under his belt.

Nonetheless, 41 year-old McInnery (also known as McInnerny) has no regrets about making three series of Blackadder and shrugs off fears about being labelled.

"There's inevitably going to be one thing that people know you more for than anything else but I've always wanted to play things that were as different as possible," he says.

Varied talents

True to his word, since graduating from Oxford in 1979, he has taken on the likes of Hamlet on stage and, in films, the chilling John Morgan in Wetherby, and Ferret the odious reporter in Fairy Tale - A True Story . He has even camped it up as Frank 'n' Furter in the Rocky Horror Show.

[ image: Ewan McGregor as Nick Lesson in Rogue Trader]
Ewan McGregor as Nick Lesson in Rogue Trader
They are the sort of challenging and complex parts that the naturally rather intense McInnery relishes. By working on the film for the Millennium Dome he hopes Blackadder can be laid to rest:

"It feels like a good way to finish things off. There will never be another series but because it is rerun all the time people think you are still doing it," he says.

Arguably however, the show's legacy is a double-edged sword. Without its exposure McInnery may not have broken into Hollywood to rub shoulders with Julia Roberts and Hugh Grant in Notting Hill.

Or with Ewan McGregor and Anna Friel in Rogue Trader, in which he plays one of Barings Bank's ineffectual "old school" managers.

And though both Max and Tony Hawes are the kind of sympathetic characters he would like to get away from, playing them was invaluable.

[ image: Julia Roberts in Notting Hill: Part of a great cast]
Julia Roberts in Notting Hill: Part of a great cast
"The complete process of doing Notting Hill was a joy. You rarely get to work with a script and cast that good and the director Roger Michell created this extraordinary atmosphere on set that was like home. In fact I didn't like having days off," he remembers.

He also got to do something many of us can only dream of - defy every rule of the road and drive through London at breakneck speed.

Bad future

"I did all of the driving in the film's car chase. All the screaming in the car is real because everyone else was terrifed but I had a fabulous time. I was even offered a job by the lead stunt man who said if things didn't work out to give him a call," he jokes.

Involvement in Rogue Trader then allowed him to explore the thorny issue of the British class system, something he says "we pretend no longer exists".

Ultimately, he hopes that if the high profile film parts keep coming, one will be meaty enough to establish him, once and for all, as an actor of depth.

[ image: McInnery: Wants to be the next Bond baddie]
McInnery: Wants to be the next Bond baddie
For the moment, he is finishing his Blackadder work for the Millennium Dome.

Then it's off to LA to talk business - and he already knows where he his setting his sights.

"You have to grasp the opportunity while it is there and you are riding the wave. I would love to play a complex villain.

"And only the other day I suggested to Pierce Brosnan that I could be the baddie in the next James Bond."

Notting Hill is currently showing across the UK. Rogue Trader opens on 25 June.

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