Life as a famous actor can be hard. The swanky parties, the hefty pay cheques, the fawning fans – and most of all the dodgy facial hair.
No, seriously. Imagine sporting a dodgy moustache for months on end, unable to convince passers-by on the street that it’s all in the name of art. That was the lot that fell to Harry Potter star Matthew Lewis, whose new role in Ripper Street required him to grow a moustache, a look he was all too eager to try out… to begin with.
“I worked hard on it, grew it myself, and for the first month I was like, ‘This is cool’. When else am I going to have big mutton chops and a moustache and get paid to do it?” he said.
“But then I realised quite quickly that no one outside of the cast and crew knows that I’m doing it for a job. People in London think that’s just how I am and I’m largely repellant to women, so that was a bit tough.
“The worst thing was, I went home to Leeds and I’ve only just moved to London, so all my friends in Leeds were like, ‘Oh, he moved to London, got a stupid moustache.'”
Lewis’s tache even caught the attention of the Happy Valley hair and make-up department, who insisted he keep it for his next role in the BBC drama’s second series. “They saw the moustache and said, ‘That’s perfect, keep that’. I was like, ‘Thanks guys, I have to wear this for the next four months – my sex offender moustache.'”
Is it a good look? We’ll leave you to judge…
From Harry Potter to Ripper Street
Perhaps a style to rival that of Lewis is the hairdo his Ripper Street co-star Matthew Macfadyen had to grow for 2010 miniseries Pillars of the Earth. “It was a monk cut,” Macfadyen recalls. “There was a circle in the top of my head for about six months. It was very hard to stay married!”
Both Lewis and Macfadyen star in series four of Ripper Street, which launches on Amazon Prime Video on 15th January.
The new episodes jump forward several years, with the Harry Potter actor joining as Leman Street’s new desk sergeant Sam Drummond – whose outlook doesn’t exactly gel with all of H Division’s familiar faces.
“I’m at the forefront of this new generation of policemen who have a new weapon in their armoury,” says Lewis. “The technology of the era is advancing so I’m trying to get everyone to use a telephone and this wonderful new device called a microreader.”
In much the same vein as Julian Fellowes’ Downton Abbey, the theme of this fourth run is old versus new. “There’s a lot in this series about the new guard,” explains Lewis. “There’s a wonderful scene where Inspector Reid (played by Macfadyen) is described as an old machine.”
“There was an awful lot happening at that time,” adds Macfadyen. “There were huge advances in technology and all the rest of it. There’s a telephone in Leman Street for the first time which throws everybody.”
And while Lewis was eager to ditch his dodgy facial hair, Macfadyen couldn’t wait to be reunited with Reid’s trusty bowler hat once his character returned to Whitechapel after a spell living on the coast: “I love my bowler hat. I really love it. Reid doesn’t wear his hat by the beach and I have a different suit – it’s not really Reid. But then I put the hat on and dig out the coat…” and the rest, as they say, is Victorian history.
Ripper Street series four is available for streaming exclusively on Amazon Prime Video now
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