Misfits newcomer Shaun Dooley on playing "a complete sociopath"

The former EastEnders actor discusses playing probation worker Greg in series four - and his repeated failed attempts to get a role in Game of Thrones

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Misfits newcomer Shaun Dooley on playing "a complete sociopath"
Written By
Claire Webb

How did you get involved in Misfits – have you been a fan since it first started?

I’ve been a fan of it since before it was well-known. When it first came out, me and my wife used to watch it and I thought it was brilliant.

How did you get involved?

I was at the same event as the casting director and I just thought “oh, sod it” so I went over and said to her, “get me in” and she said, “really?” and I said, “absolutely”. The following day her producer turned round and said, “I know who’d be ideal for the new probation worker” – and they both said my name at practically the same time!

Do you often go about getting jobs like that?

No, not often. But the downside of working on Misfits is now I’ve read all the scripts, I’m not going to have the fun of watching it as it goes out.

What is it you love about the show – is it the comedy, the darkness or the craziness of the plots?

All three. But I do love the comedy of it – I’ve got a dark sense of humour. On paper it looks like it should be written for a teenage audience, but Misfits is one of the most grown up things on TV – it’s pushing boundaries and the writing is fantastic.

You play a rather scary probation worker…

He’s called Greg and he’s really, really horrible – a complete sociopath. He can flip on the turn of a coin from being really nice to completely horrific, and he’s suddenly someone who’s going to kill you there and then. He’s brilliant to play.

But does that mean you don’t get the orange suit and special power?

No I don't, I’d love the special powers. I’ll have to wait and see what happens… It’s the equivalent of going into Game of Thrones and not getting a sword – it’s just wrong.

If you were to have a special power, what would it be?

Hmm… that’s a tricky one. I reckon Greg’s special power would be the ability to wipe somebody from the face of the earth with a single finger click, because he thinks there are a lot of people who shouldn’t be around and he’d like to get rid of them.

What about yours?

Teleportation – but with the ability to take other people so my family could come, too.

Is Greg meant to be funny?

He’s very funny, but because his character’s so funny. You’re meant to laugh at him – it’s not like Joe’s character who is so crazy and brilliant that you laugh with him as well.

What can you tell us about the start of the series and your character’s involvement?

Well, as the probation worker, the main reason for my character being in the series is to scare them so much they keep coming back to the community centre. Greg’s purpose in life is for them to see through their community service, so he doesn’t get embroiled in the supernatural side of things, although sometimes I think he does know.

The great thing about Misfits is Howard Overman [the writer] gives you the script and that’s it – he doesn’t let you into his head at all which is brilliant as it gives you scope to put what you want in, but also keeps you guessing about what’s going to happen to the characters.

We’ve heard whisperings of a six-foot killer rabbit – is that true?

Yes, and it’s really frightening. I had the same reaction as I did with the Weeping Angels in the last Doctor Who – they frightened the hell out of me and for the first ten minutes I was sat next to my wife going, “Oh God, oh no, it’s them…” The rabbit was the same – as soon as I saw it I thought, “that’s just not right”. This series is definitely a lot darker than the last one.

There are also rumours circling that you get to sing in Misfits…

Yes, I do – it’s the first time I’ve sung on camera. I don’t think I have a particularly good voice, although other people have said it’s alright. I had to go to a recording studio which, when I’d finally got over my nerves, was a brilliant thing to tick off my bucket list.

Did you have to be persuaded into it?

A long, long time ago a director friend of mine told me, “if it scares you, you should do it,” and I’ve always stuck to that. Nowadays, whenever something petrifies me and I’m shaking, I think, “right, let’s do it.” It keeps things fresh as the worst thing would be to become boring or mundane.

Were there any other testing moments on set?

The character was quite a test to play – he can be talking quite naturally and then flip – like Jekyll and Hyde within his own personality. It’s a good challenge to play somebody so intense, but it’s hard not to laugh. The other actors giggle at Greg all the time, especially Nathan who plays newcomer Finn – as soon as I speak he’s a nightmare, and the second I turn up to do a scene he says, “Oh no...” 

Do you get told off by the director?

We’re always told off, but me not so much because I try and use their laughter to make me more angry. If they corpse and the camera’s on me I can play off it, but as soon as they shout cut I turn to jelly.

A lot of people remember you from your time in EastEnders – how has filming Misfits compared to your experience of soap acting?

What I found so difficult about working on EastEnders is the speed with which it’s shot and the amount of work that has to be done. The hours they work are quite incredible and then they travel home and prepare themselves for the next day. Everybody has to be on top of their game to get it done, whereas in any other drama outside of the soaps you’ve got a lot more time to get things right.

And we hear you’ve started writing scripts, too?

Yes, I’ve just had my first feature film picked up – I went to Cannes and managed to sell it within three hours of landing! It’s a romantic comedy set in London about a guy in his mid-twenties and a night he’ll never forget...

Is there anything else you feel is missing from your CV?

Game of Thrones – I audition for it every year and never get it. It does my head in. I also want to do a really bad action film and be one of those guys who does Karate and beats people up. I think I’d quite like that.


The new series of Misfits starts tonight at 10:00pm on E4

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