Martin McCreadie has demonstrated himself as one of the most interesting actors in both theatre and television circles.
During our interview he reveals himself, his acting career, as well as stage and set experiences; focusing on the roles interpreted in The Haunting of Bly Manor and The Alienist.
Your recent performance in The Haunting of Bly Manor was outstanding. How did you get involved in the project?
Thank you for your kind appraisal of the work! Always nice to gauge if something hit home or not. The project itself came through my manager and agent in the US. I was requested to put myself on tape, auditioning with a couple of scenes from the episode (the rest of the script was still secret), and luckily that particular rendition of the scenes was enough to get me on board!
Your character, in the show, is intense and multifaceted. Was it difficult to prepare for the role?
It was quite a whirlwind in terms of time constraints as I was officially cast just a few days before I was due to fly out to the production, and a week before I was due on set, however, the production team were incredibly helpful in arranging consultations with the various hair/make-up, wardrobe (and even horse wrangling) departments so I could be briefed and collaborate with them all on what the feel of the episode was to be, and how it was to be shot, and so I could tailor my approach to the material in accordance with that.
Axelle Carolyn the director, Lynne Falconer the costume designer and Kate Siegel (who of course played the eventual Lady of the Lake Viola) were particularly instrumental in bringing me up to speed on the episode and then for the rest of the week I lived, breathed and slept 17th century England through reading and documentaries and of course scoured the original source material in Henry James The Turn of The Screw and The Romance of Certain Old Clothes, including looking into past adaptations such as the 1961 film adaptation The Innocents just to see the variety of ways in which the source material had perhaps been treated in the past and see what new angles could be explored etc.
The rest just kind of transpired on the set, as and when. (when the cast and crew are so lovely and the environment so conducive to working confidently and freely, as was the case - time constraints no longer seem to be as restricting).
You have been involved in many theatre plays, in the past few years. I would like to know more about your acting technique and the way you research for different roles, especially on a psychological and historical level?
It really does differ depending on a whole manner of variables. The role, the production, the medium (and the style within that medium - for example, an open-air promenade theatre piece demands a different kind of focus and set of demands to a traditional proscenium arch theatre piece - and I will therefore prepare accordingly). Also, the creative team that you’re collaborating with, and to be a conduit for, namely the Director and writer and the vision they have in place. Then it’s up to me to see where in the parameters of that vision I can operate and give them something that may help compound or lift their vision for the audience.
I always research thoroughly, particularly for non-fictional subject matter as I feel there is a duty to do so. But even if it is a fictitious character I will delve into all manner of associated genres or subject matters in order to glean some inspiration. And hopefully in the end bring forth some material that may be of some use, either for development during the rehearsal process or even during the spur of the moment improvisation (if called upon to do so). Anything that will again help to compound or lift the ‘world’ that we are creating for the audience.
Recently, we have also had the pleasure of enjoying your performance in the second season of The Alienist. Could you tell us more about your experience on set?
Again, I am pleased that you enjoyed that work. It was hugely enjoyable to be back working in a city such as Budapest and of course re-exploring Caleb Carr’s world in The Alienist series. Pieces like that, grounded in real-world periods such as New York at the turn of the 20th century, are always greatly rewarding as there are so many social, economic and technological advancements to research and consider.
The production values were again top-notch - almost like stepping into a time machine every time we walked on set. I also thought Rudy Mance did a great job of taking the reigns from Michael Kaplan (again a great creative to collaborate with) in the costume department.
It was also huge positive to be back on set with Ted Levine (Commissioner Byrnes in the piece) who i worked with a lot more on this season. He’s had a really varied, long-standing career (including an iconic turn in ‘Silence of the Lambs’) and has an exciting approach to work on set so it’s nice to observe and collaborate with him and see what gets conjured up in the process, and what lessons I can learn from him in my career going forward.
Can we already ask you about the future projects you are working on?
Unfortunately with everything that has happened this year, so many projects I have been in contention for have been postponed or even canceled and so many aspects of the industry hang in the balance, so unfortunately I have nothing concrete that I can report at this moment in time. But, like the rest of us, I just hope and pray we can ride this thing out together and that our collective societies can all get back to the things that we love.