Following his acclaimed recent roles in Howards End and Succession, Matthew Macfadyen is now starring in the riveting AMC miniseries Quiz. He plays Major Charles Ingram, a British army veteran who became infamous in 2001 after being accused of cheating his way to the top prize on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?. It's another terrific performance from the British actor – who's also starred in everything from Spooks to Pride and Prejudice – but here are a few things you might not know about him.
1. He lived "all over the place" when he was growing up.
Macfadyen was born in Great Yarmouth, a seaside town on England's east coast, but his family moved around a lot because his dad worked in the oil industry. They lived in London for a time, as well as in the Scottish cities Aberdeen and Dundee. From the age of nine to 16, Macfadyen lived in Jakarta, Indonesia, and then when his family returned to the U.K., went to boarding school in Leicestershire before training at famous London acting school RADA (Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts).
2. He was once rude to Sir Anthony Hopkins – but only because he was so shy when he was younger.
"My shyness manifested in aloofness," he told The Big Issue in 2015. "At RADA, when casting directors and agents would come for the final showpiece, the first years used to pour the wine. I was on the drinks station and was very rude to Anthony Hopkins because I was crippled with nerves."
3. He's the voice behind loads of British TV commercials.
Over the years, MacFadyen has voiced adverts for Häagen-Dazs ice cream, London department store Harrods, Benilyn cough medicine, Center Parcs holiday resorts, Smirnoff vodka, and iconic British retailer Marks & Spencer.
Warning: this clip of MacFadyen talking about Marks & Spencer's Beef Bourguignon might make you hungry.
4. He's a very good cook.
This is according to wife Keeley Hawes, his former Spooks co-star, whom he married in 2004 and has two children and a stepson with. "He's the ruler of our kitchen," she told The Daily Telegraph in 2015. "He'd say that I'm fine, but I never really get a chance because he really enjoys it, and I don't, really. So it tends to be me doing the decorating and him doing the cooking."
5. He completed the London Marathon in 2009.
But told the BBC, modestly, that he ran the 26.2 miles "very slowly." "I've no idea really what my time was...probably about 4 hours and 45 minutes," he added. "But, the occasion was great fun and I ran with my mates, who got me round if I'm honest. Afterwards I felt brilliant."
6. He's allergic to cats and dogs.
And so are some of his family. Speaking about their dog Nana, Hawes told the Radio Times in 2018: "We’re allergic to dogs, so she’s a hypoallergenic breed called a coton de tulear. She doesn’t moult, so she’s pretty easy to care for."
She's also incredibly cute.
7. He wasn't confident about playing Mr. Darcy opposite Keira Knightley in 2005's Pride and Prejudice.
"I didn’t think I was good-looking or sexy enough. It probably bled into the character, because Mr Darcy is also cripplingly shy," he told The Big Issue in 2015. "I would tell my younger self to be less fussy, take a punt sometimes. Because six months down the line, the film can bear little relation to the script you read. It is out of your hands. You are just a cog in a process, and that is a lovely thing."
8. And he nearly went broke after the movie came out.
"Anyway, [it] came out and I got a load of scripts. A bunch of crappy romantic comedies. A generic Mr. Darcy type, but not as interesting," he told The Times last year. "So I just went ‘No, no, no’ and waited. I sat on my arse for a year. And then I got panicked, because I wanted to work, and it’s weird — I was on the side of buses, but had run out of money. It doesn’t always mould together. You imagine you’ve made it, but the film was shot two years before and then, when it comes out, you haven’t worked for a few months."
In 2013, Macfadyen also revealed he went through a lean period before landing a lead role in BBC America's Victorian crime drama series Ripper Street alongside Game of Thrones' Jerome Flynn, telling The Hollywood Reporter that he'd had "months and months of nothing, as often is the way with actors" before he got the script. "I just loved it and that was that," he added. And we're glad it was, too!
9. He nearly choked while shooting Succession's season two finale.
Specifically, the scene where his character Tom comfort-eats chicken off father-in-law Logan’s (Brian Cox) plate after his wife Shiv (Sarah Snook) says it's time they have a threesome.
“The first time I did it, I grabbed a really big bit of breast of the chicken off Brian’s plate and I almost choked,” Macfadyen told The Independent.
10. He wears a set of prosthetic teeth to play Major Charles Ingram in Quiz.
And as he revealed on his recent appearance on The Late Late Show with James Corden, he's kept them!
You can stream full episodes of Quiz now on amc.com and the AMC apps.
What are your favorite Matthew Macfadyen roles?