Ian McShane blasts “appalling” career prospects for northern working-class actors

A lack of grant money means public school boys have the upper hand, says the American Gods actor


Veteran actor Ian McShane believes a successful acting career may be an impossible dream for many working-class northerners who have been locked out of the industry.


The 74-year-old actor was born in Lancashire and grew up in Manchester. He attended a grammar school before studying at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. Since then he has achieved international success in Lovejoy, Deadwood and Pirates of the Caribbean, and now plays the mysterious Mr Wednesday in American Gods.

But asked if it was true that a northern working-class lad wouldn’t make it in the industry today, McShane told the new edition of Radio Times: “I find that appalling.”

He explained: “The only way to make it is to hope that you are cast as a northerner in an independent movie or go into Coronation Street and work your way out. For a lot of kids there are no grants for drama school.”

Performing a comedic upper-class voice, McShane added: “That’s why everyone talks like that now. They’re all public school. Public school boys have this self-confidence for no apparent reason.

“That’s fine, it’s what they are bred for, and I know Tom Hiddleston and Eddie Redmayne and they’re nice guys. But there’s room for a little more spreading it around.”

The actor himself now spends a lot of time in Los Angeles, where he relaxes on the beach – and sits on his sofa watching TV in horrified fascination.

“Recently I have just had wall-to-wall cable news on, watching this creature, Donald Trump, that has sort of invaded our lives,” he said.

“I’ve got tons of unopened books. I keep saying to myself, ‘I need to start this and look at that,’ but I get caught up by the TV where there’s now an orange cookie monster who is embedded in all our lives and I can’t wait to hear what he says next.”


Read the full interview with Ian McShane in this week’s edition of the Radio Times, out Tuesday 9th May in shops and on the newsstand