An Interview with Guy Henry
Actor Guy Henry has featured in some of the most popular films and TV shows of the past 25 years, including the Harry Potter saga and Holby City. Roger Crow talks to him about his work on new movie The Krays: Dead Man Walking, stepping into Peter Cushing’s boots for Rogue One, and playing the BBC’s 1990s horror movie guru Dr Terror…
How did you land the part of Conservative politician Lord Boothby in The Krays: Dead Man Walking?
They (the film makers) said ‘Would I pop along and do it for a day?’ I said ’Absolutely’, and there I was. I don’t think I read the whole script. It was partly through the wonderful Adam Stephen Kelly, who’d done (the short film) Done In.
How difficult or easy was it playing a real person?
The first thing that happened was I walked out on set not really knowing that I didn’t look anything like Lord Boothby. And (former The Bill star) Chris Ellison said: ’Well you’re mis-cast’. So I thought, ’Oh, thank you very much’. That’s encouraging isn’t it? I just tried to be as fruity as I could be, and I hope it came off. It was great fun. Quite a nice character role.
There seems to be more mileage in this version of the Krays saga. Would you be keen to return to the role?
I would indeed. I loved doing it.
“All sorts of dreadful things befall him”
I’ve started watching Holby City again thanks to your medical alter ego.
He is a wonderful character old Mr Hanssen. He’s a real eccentric and great to play.
What can fans look forward to in upcoming episodes?
All sorts of dreadful things befall him to do with an old friend, played by my old friend from drama school days, Paul McGann. It was lovely. We were at RADA together between 1979 to 1981. We’ve been in touch over the years, but it’s really great to play some wonderful stuff with him. He’s something of a baddie in the show, and poor Mr Hanssen doesn’t realise he is until the end and it’s very sad. I’ve recently been screaming across a lake in Hertfordshire; we’ve been on location. Really, really exciting stuff.
Holby City turns 20 next year. Why do you think it’s still going strong?
It’s an extraordinary achievement to do it 52 weeks a year. Even Casualty has a break of a few months, but we don’t. If you think about it, 52 hours’ worth of drama. That’s 26 feature films back to back, week by week, on and on. It’s amazing. And only (using) three hospital sets and a car park. So often people say this about the shows they’re on, but they really are the finest people in the business. I’m very fortunate indeed.
As a Star Wars fan, I love Rogue One. How was it stepping into Peter Cushing’s boots as Tarkin?
I was very frightened by that one. I love Peter Cushing; he was always one of my favourite actors, and a wonderful gentleman by all accounts. Some of the crew on Holby, the lighting crew, they worked with him on Hammer horror in the old days, at Pinewood, or wherever it was made, and they speak of him with great affection. I was obviously nervous about letting down all the Hollywoody types; Lucasfilm/Disney-type people. And it was Peter Cushing I didn’t want to let down. I’m not an impressionist; I can do quite a good Peter O’Toole impression, but not a Peter Cushing.
“I’m glad that many people went along with it”
I thought you nailed the interpretation.
I don’t think the voice is particularly accurate. It’s the flavour of him rather than an accurate impersonation I think, but I’m glad that many people went along with it happily. I know there are some dissenters, which is quite understandable. It was a very exciting thing to do.
And there is room for another movie with Tarkin, so would you like to make a return to the role?
You never know. I did go up for a part as myself, or my agent and the casting woman anyway thought it might be nice to have me in the film as me. But I put myself on tape and I haven’t heard a word.
I first became aware of your work in the early 1990s as dry-witted demon Dr Terror in the BBC’s horror movie seasons. I’d love to see him back on the box.
Well that would be great fun. Not that wearing five-and-a-half hours’ worth of individual rubber prostheses, lovingly glued to me by Geoff Portass… not that that was exactly an easy joy.
Do you find it easy acting through masks, whether physical or digital?
Not really. I used to have vodka and tonics through a straw on the night shoots (for Dr Terror) because you couldn’t get the funny little rubber lips wet. We also shot some scenes at Blackpool Pleasure Beach, and that was a lot of fun. He was a great character. It would be fun to do it again actually. It’s funny that a lot of people remember him. I think if you get an interesting idea and interesting concepts and an extraordinary character, like a Tarkin or Dr Hanssen or indeed Dr Terror, then you’re onto a winner aren’t you? It’s just finding that combination of a good idea and a good character to fulfil it.”
‘The Krays: Dead Man Walking’ is available on DVD and digital