Matthew MacFadyen on similarities between Stonehouse and Succession

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The actor is starring as the leading character in the three-part ITV drama Stonehouse which is about the Labour MP who faked his own death after getting into serious financial trouble in the 1970s. Matthew MacFadyen has drawn parallels between John Stonehouse and his iconic Succession character Tom Wambsgans who is infatuated with “power” in the BAFTA-winning series. 

Succession’s Tom is desperate to be fully accepted as part of the Roy family in the series after marrying Logan Roy’s (Brian Cox) only daughter Siobhan Roy (Sarah Snook). 

The satirical comedy follows the Roy family’s domination of the media and entertainment world and the corruption within it. 

While Tom is high up in the family company, named Waystar Royco, Matthew revealed the awkward character is very much “out of his depth”. 

He said the character is similar to John Stonehouse whose life spiralled out of control when he was forced to become a Czech spy after he was filmed having sex with a woman who was not his wife. 

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Speaking to and other media about how Stonehouse compares to Succession, Matthew said: “There’s a bit of cross-pollination I suppose.

“They are a long way from each other but they both like the trappings of power and being near power.

“I suppose they both seem out of their depth, so there is stuff which is similar, yes. They are two sorts of grotesques.”

When asked how he prepared for the role in Stonehouse, the actor explained: “It sort of just came out really. 

“It’s good fun to play, there is a lovely element about it.” 

He explained if you can make people laugh then you have the ability to “take them somewhere else” with the script and the character. 

Matthew relied on the costume department to transform him into the disgraced minister. 

His signature blue eyes had to become brown and he needed a set of crooked teeth as well as a fitting wig to channel the MP.

Matthew explained: “I looked at a lot of pictures and we had a fabulous makeup designer called Trudy Kendrick, who gave me his brilliant wigs you know, from the 60s on to the 70s.” 

The actor used brown contact lenses throughout filming and had some false teeth made as the MP’s were “a horror”, but the first set was not quite right. 

He said: “We had some [teeth] made but they were too much – far too much. It was ridiculous.”

Before Stonehouse’s downfall, his political career was thriving under Prime Minister Harold Wilson’s leadership. 

He was happily married to Barbara Stonehouse (Keeley Hawes), with three children.

However, his life took a nosedive when Czech spymaster Alexander Marek (Igor Grabuzov) blackmailed him. 

Stonehouse later had an affair with his secretary Sheila Buckley (Emer Heatley) and landed himself in debt. 

In desperation, he faked his own death when he was in America, but his secret was later exposed. 

Stonehouse will air on ITVX in early 2023 at a date yet to be announced. 

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