In the new series The Larkins, Stephen Hagan plays Tom Fisher in the adaptation of H. E. Bates’ The Darling Buds of May, with filming taking place during the pandemic and the series can currently be seen airing Sunday nights on ITV. Prior to his role in The Larkins, Stephen played Leonardo da Vinci in Medici and appeared in all three series of Lucky Man as Rich Clayton. Amongst his other screen credits, Stephen has worked on feature film Zoo and he starred as Prince Leopold in A Royal Christmas. Also having a stage career, Stephen most recently was in the cast of the world premiere of Dessert in 2017 at Southwark Playhouse. Stephen talks to us about being in the new adaptation of The Larkins, playing Tom Fisher in the series and starring as Prince Leopold in A Royal Christmas on Hallmark.
Was there anything that drew you to the new ITV series The Larkins and how was it reading the script for the first time?
After one year locked down, my family were forcing me to get out of the house! And the script was great.
Can you tell us about your character Tom Fisher and what is he like to play?
He is a newbie to the village, looking to make his mark. It was great to play him because he is so much cooler and far better dressed than I am.
What was it like filming with the rest of the cast and getting into character?
It was a joy to go to work every day. The whole cast and crew were brilliant to be around. The atmosphere on set was just fun. Mad! But fun. I think we are so glad to get out of the house and do some acting.
What was the experience like on set during the pandemic?
Very strange. I only saw the crew’s eyes! I find it hard to remember names anyway – so it was testing. The regular COVID testing was strange but the COVID team were superb because we got the whole way through the shoot without having to shut down.
How is it seeing the response to the release and why would you recommend watching the series?
It’s been lovely that so many people have embraced it. It’s perfect Sunday night viewing along with snuggles on the sofa with the people and/or things you love. (Pizza)
Do you have any favourite memories from filming the new adaptation of H. E. Bates’ The Darling Buds of May?
My favourite memory was getting to drive an MG MGA 1600 convertible. Any time I did enjoy it too much, I was quickly reminded that it doesn’t have power steering. So there are a few scenes that I get very close to a few hedges.
What can you say about playing Leonardo da Vinci in Medici?
Absolute madness!!! I was an Irishman playing an Italian legend in Italy with an all Italian crew! It’s like an Italian rocking up in Belfast to play George Best. But it was a great job. I did a lot of research and travelled all over Italy before we started shooting to absorb as much of the man as I could. He’s far more intelligent than I am but he was left handed. So I already had that one mastered.
You played Rich Clayton in Lucky Man across all three series, what did you enjoy most about being in the cast?
Getting to turn up a few days a week already knowing the character inside out and knowing the crew already, so a lot of the usual nerves and anxieties disappeared and I could just concentrate on my bit. I learnt a lot about screen acting on that gig.
What was the show like to work on and what do you miss about being part of it?
It was a joy to work on. It was all shot in London so it was really handy to where I live. I would love to do more. And getting to play some small part in Stan Lee’s universe was a privilege.
How was it working on the film Zoo as Jake McClune?
I always love going back home to work. I stayed at my mum’s which was lovely. But when we shot the elephant scenes we had to fly to Canada because the elephant didn’t travel very well I suppose. We rehearsed with a wooden cut out of the elephant on wheels. And when the elephant came onto set I was so excited. I was smiling so much throughout the first take that the director had to have a word with me “You’re a vet in a zoo, Stephen, you’ve seen a bloody elephant before!”.
You worked on the Hallmark film A Royal Christmas playing the role of Prince Leopold, can you tell us more about this?
I got to work with Lacey Chabert and Jane Seymour. Two screen legends! Lacey left my daughter a voicemail saying the word “Fetch!” which got me a lot of cool dad points and Jane signed a picture of herself in Live and Let Die for a friend of mine who is a die-hard James Bond fan. Everyone was lovely. The hardest bit was trying to make it look cold in the height of the Romanian summer.
Having previously worked on stage, most recently at Southwark Playhouse for the world premiere of Dessert in 2017, what are some of the other projects you’ve worked on and how different do you find stage to screen?
I love theatre so much. It’s so different in so many ways. But the root of the acting comes from the same place. My first professional job was a play about Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo so I felt like I came full circle getting to play Da Vinci. Screen is trying, you need to block out all your surroundings to concentrate on the truth in the scene. In theatre, you have to find the truth in the scene and communicate it to your surroundings and also react to the audience to go on a ride with them.
Where does your love of acting come from and how did you start?
I was always performing when I was a small child. Singing and shouting trying to get attention being the baby of the family. I was very lucky that my mum supported it and got me involved in acting classes and local amateur dramatics. I never thought I could turn it into a career, I just kept doing what I loved and it’s got me this far.
Do you have any favourite films and TV shows to watch?
My favourite film is Back to the Future. My favourite TV show at the minute is Succession! So excited for the new series and how horrible all the characters are.
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