Mackenzie Crook is virtually unrecognisable in Sky Atlantic’s new drama Britannia, sporting a bald head, bulging black eyes and a weathered face ridden with scars and tribal symbols. Gareth Vale from The Office, he is not.
In the historical drama, set during the Roman invasion of Britain, Crook plays an all-powerful Druid leader named Veran. His mystical character is feared and respected by the Celtic tribes, who believe that the gods speak through him. Crook describes Veran as an “enigmatic, charismatic leader of what could be seen as a cult”.
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Sky Atlantic posted a time lapse video of Crook’s gruelling make-up process, which the actor revealed took up to five hours to complete each day.
“I loved every minute of it,” said Crook of the transformation. “From the design to going and having a cast made, and the daily ritual of putting it on – we started off at five hours and then they got it down to three and a half – it was a brilliant process.
“Watching the skill of the makeup team and seeing myself slowly transformed in front of the mirror helped me get into and form the character.”
In terms of getting into the mind set of Veran, Crook had a surprising source of inspiration.
“This is going to sound weird but I sort of drew on Springwatch,” he revealed.
“It has this air of being for old people but it’s actually the most brutal and violent show on television – the violence of nature. That sentimental sympathy and empathy that humans have, it doesn’t exist out there.
“And Veran is all about the natural world. He’s like the seasons. There’s no room for sentiment, sympathy or empathy.”
Britannia begins on Thursday 18th January at 9pm on Sky Atlantic