Paranoid star Dino Fetscher talks about his big break… and why coming out as gay was not an issue for him
Actor who plays the good-looking and brainy copper in the new ITV thriller tells Ben Dowell about his plans following his big TV break
Dino Fetscher is a name to watch.
The actor, who appeared in the Russell T Davies drama Cucumber – and E4 spin-off Banana - is on ITV tonight in the first episode of the new ITV cop thriller Paranoid.
He plays bookish detective Alec Wayfield alongside Robert Glenister and Indira Varma in the show about an investigation into the murder of a young mother. And we caught up with him…
RT: Paranoid looks like quite an intriguing show…
Dino Festcher: Yeah, it leaves you feeling paranoid.
You’re character Alex Wayfield seems the most straightforward, is that fair to say?
That’s what I liked about the character: he’s seemingly straightforward but as the story unfolds there’s a lot more to him. He’s very complex, he’s got a lot going on with the family, to work relations, to the relationship with his psychiatrist, who you met in the first episode and his mum played by Polly Walker…There’s a lot that goes on there.
There’s a hint that the psychiatrist has done something to his mum but I’m not sure what?
You’ll have to wait and see. It kind of hooks you and it does it really well in that you keep discovering, you keep learning, you’re always guessing. It’s always twisting and turning.
I know you were in Russell T Davies’ gay drama Banana but this is your first big network role?
I was the lead in one episode of Banana then I had a much smaller part appearing in two episodes of Cucumber. So this is my biggest title, leading role on a primetime show.
What was that like?
It was incredible.To be part of something I loved so much from reading it – we had the first six episodes and I couldn’t put it down. I was so excited about the character, the story.
Did you get all the scripts in one go?
No we didn’t get all of them. We got a chunk and then we got the last two towards the end. Did I know how it was going to end? No I didn’t.
Did it surprise you?
Yeah, it did surprise me.
What do you have in common with the character? Was there anything you drew on with him?
There were times when Alec is quite socially awkward, when he doesn’t really know quite how to be, when he’s quite unaware because he’s in such tunnel vision about the case, and I think that I can definitely relate to that. There are times if I’m feeling particularly vulnerable or in a position I’m not comfortable in I can be socially awkward. So, yeah, I really felt like that vulnerability kind of touched me with him and made him kind of really real to me. His passion, as well. He’s very passionate about his job. It’s all about the work and this thirst for justice and, obviously I’m not a police officer, but I’m very passionate about what I do so I respect that in him. And he’s very moral and he has this really good, big heart. He wants to do the right thing all the time, which I felt an affinity to also.
He does feel like the moral heart of it in some ways, do you feel like there’s a good essence to him, anything we might discover?
Yeah, there’s lots of goodness to him. But with any human being, as with any three dimensional character, everyone has their flaws and Alec can be a bit of a know-it-all, at times, he thinks he knows everything because he’s very intelligent and he sees what other don’t and sees out of the box. And at times that grates on Nina [Indira Varma] or people see it as arrogant – but I don’t see it as arrogant – or he kind of hinders himself sometimes.
What were the [scriptwriter] Bill Gallagher’s ideas for the role?
He was described as ‘effortlessly elegant’. When I read that I thought, ‘Have you cast the right person?’ because I don’t think of myself as elegant. I think it refers to his ease and confidence with his work. Bill said to me he’s very cultured, he’s book smart, he’s taught himself how to live through books. He loves to read, he loves Shakespeare, he quotes it. He’s had this difficult upbringing with his tempestuous relationship with his mother who’s awesome, and it’s kind of his retreat, his safe haven. You see that in him, lots of his references are from books.
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What do you think the USP of this drama is?
I think that it has that really exciting side of being a police thriller. The way it’s shot is very stunning, it’s very cinematic - we had epic crane shots, drones, stuff in forests, explosions, chases. So it has that real epic feel to it. But what really drives it for me and what makes it unique is the fact that it’s just as much about these personal turmoils, these demons all the characters are treading alongside with this unraveling, mysterious case. Things happen between Nina and I, his anxiety and his issues he’s dealing with…
What’s your background?
[Putting on a thick Welsh accent] I’m from Cardiff. I’m Welsh but my accent’s very soft so you probably wouldn’t hear it. I’m 28. I moved here when I was 20. I worked for a bit, then I went to uni and I dropped out because – I always wanted to go to drama school
You must have been really excited when this role became available? Are you prepared for the fame that might happen?
I haven’t really thought about it, you know. I’ve just been really happy to be a part of something I deem to be really excellent work and an excellent story. As the story unfolds, the crux of what it’s about, for me, was amazing, which you discover. I’m off to LA on Friday. I’ve just got an American manager so I’m going out for meetings with them, which is really exciting for me. I love film but I also love TV – especially now – I really think TV is on a par with film. I have some things in the pipeline that we’re just about to see on.
I read an interview in Attitude magazine that described you as ‘Banana Hottie’, how did you feel about that?
[Laughs] It’s very complimentary. It’s very nice to hear. But it’s kind of weird, I guess. I don’t really buy into that. It’s very nice to hear but I guess I don’t perceive myself to be like that.
Was that interview you coming out as gay, or had you come out before that?
I would never say I was ‘in’ but I guess that’s where I said I was gay. It’s quite refreshing to see that it’s changed and that it’s not an issue anymore. My job as an actor is to inhabit the skin and soul of somebody else and play different people. Sexuality for me is irrelevant when it comes to acting in the same way as an English actor playing an Irish role – if you can do the accent, then what’s the problem?
There was a suggestion maybe a decade ago that a lot of actors didn’t come out because they were afraid of the effect it would have on their careers. Do you think that’s changed?
I definitely think it’s changed; it’s changed massively.
And what’s changed? Is it gay marriage or something else?
I can’t speak for everybody but I just think what’s more important than anything is just to be honest to who you are. You have a duty to be true to yourself because people will inevitably look up to you as an actor and I think if you’re lying about who you are then it’s just a really bad message to send out. If you’re lying about who you are you’re saying you’re not happy with who you are and I’m happy with who I am. I think it’s nothing to be ashamed of because it’s who you are. It’s how your born, so what is there to hide?
It was quite an interesting photoshoot, quite revealing, are you happy doing things like that?
That was all in terms of the show. I played a character who’s a very sexualised character. The show was very – my episode especially – racy, so it was very in fitting. I didn’t mind doing it because it was promotion for the show.
If you had a magic wand, where would you be in five years time?
In five years time I would like to be perhaps in LA – I would like to live there for a while. I’d like to be perhaps in another exciting series. I’d love to have broken into film. I’d love to be doing some great theatre. I’ve always dreamed of working in the Royal Court, I’d love for that to have happened by then.
And could this come back? There’s not a coach crash where all the characters die?
You’ll have to wait and see! No, of course, everything can potentially come back. I think it definitely has potential.
Paranoid is on ITV on Thursday nights at 9pm