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Matthew Macfadyen plays Paul Tibbenham
Matthew, who recently shot to fame in the hit BBC drama Spooks, has swapped his spy persona to tackle a new role as a young Labour activist in The Project.
Matthew plays the part of Paul Tibbenham who, after graduating from Manchester University, moves to London and joins the Labour Party as a press officer before becoming a special adviser at No. 10 after the 1997 election.
"paul has been my most challenging role to date but also one of the most rewarding," says Matthew. "I loved the part and immediately knew that the script was something special because it had been written by Leigh Jackson." Matthew starred in Warriors, the critically acclaimed two-part drama shown on BBC One in 1999 about British UN peace-keeping forces in Bosnia, which was directed by Peter Kosminsky and written by Leigh Jackson.
"Paul is very idealistic and he cares deeply about the Labour Party," explains Matthew. There is a mutual attraction between Paul and Maggie which has been simmering since their university days but, as the sexual tension rises, their career rivalry intensifies. "Maggie has always been the dominant one, but Paul is ambitious and keen to get ahead," explains Matthew. "He is not deceitful but he is envious of Maggie's relationship with Josh, a former university friend and member of the Tory party, so this makes him act in an irrational manner. Paul is aware that his behaviour is questionable, but he justifies his actions with the firm belief that the Tories have to go.
"However, throughout Labour's first term in government he gradually becomes desillusioned," explains Matthew, "as he realises that they aresacrificing some of their main policies in an attempt tohold on to power."
The cast was provided with background information for their roles, but Matthew also the opportunity during filming to read Andrew Rawnsley's book Servants Of The People. "I am not a typical research type of actor but I found the book very interesting and insightful," he says.
Matthew relished the opportunity of appearing in The Project and re-establishing his working relationship with Peter Kosminsky. "I respond to Peter's direction extremely well. His exploitation of the hand-held camera makes the overall peace appears extremely realistic," explains Matthew. "Peter just lets the camera roll and we only spend a limited time in rehearsal blocking it through. His way of working is very idiosyncratic."
Matthew was born in Norfolk and expressed an interest in drama from a young age. He honed his acting skills in RADA. Currently he is filming the second series of Spooks and is writing a sitcom with two of his friends. "I would hope that young people might watch The Project, because we are living in a time where people are becoming more and more apathetic about politics - but maybe this could be due to a lack of good politicians!"
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