Mark Gatiss - I don´t care about ratingsWritten by Eva Csölleová, Vítek Formánek
One of the main stars of the FebioFest 2018 was English writer, actor and director Mark Gatiss. He earned his fame as a member of League of the Gentlemen, he is also an author of series about Sherlock Holmes and resurrected Dr.Who series. He is not hiding his sexual orientations so it was our first chance to talk with such artist not only about his screen/stage activities but also about his views.
How did you get into showbusiness?
I wanted to be fossil hunting, but couldn´t master Latin. Then I worked as a gardener in the hospital where my father worked. It was mental hospital and I liked watching horror films at that time so mother talked about me as about morbid child. After that I was deputy stage manager and at Drama school in Yorkshire I met three likewise minded guys and we established League of the Gentlemen.
Did you get into showbusiness because you liked it or because you saw it as a good chance how to fight for rig gays rights?
That´s an interesting question. Fight for the homosexual right was s a bi-product, obviously showbiz was my priority but I realized that as a famous person I have the voice and some potential to help with a good cause. That was also one of the reasons for making Queers. So I didn´t take acting as some crusade to force the world to look at the community of gays.
You are scriptwriter, actor and director. How do you decide which profession will get a nod in which project?
I like writing very much and what I write I like to pass to audience as an actor. So I am not focused at being a director exclusively, I like to work on many different things which sharpen my wits and broaden my range. Not very long time ago I have got a script with saying” it´s Mark Gatiss part”. I wasn´t very pleased about that cos that meant they have labeled me and I don´t want to be like that. I like writing alone for many months but when I have enough it is nice from social point of view to get on stage with nice people and play. It´s a nice change.
Britain was always very conservative. How do they view the gay culture which got into all forms of live and how do they look at actors who are in front of behind the camera?
In some way Britain is coming back to middle-age. We were always rated as tolerant but bit lazy society. You know, some victories are very fragile and racism is still bubbling under surface. That is what worries me because many changes that our society accepted were negated by new laws. If you look at the Brexit, you will see what I mean. World has dramatically changed in last 10-15 years and I am afraid that one political decision can put things where they were.
That´s why you created Queers?
Yes, I was asked by BBC-Scotland and decided to show the life of gays in our society from 1917 up until now, in 8 parts .It was meant to be showed for 50th anniversary of decriminalization of men´s homosexuality. I wanted to show what we gained and lost by the newly accepted laws. In 60´s gay parties were illegal and it was so much more fun. When they were legalized, that charm of illegality vanished.
How do you view current situation, mainly in Hollywood, when some ladies accuse actors like Kevin Spacey or Dustin Hoffman for sexual harassment which happened 30 years ago. Isn´t it more like directed witch hunt?
That is very tough one. I think we should observe these cases from both sides and I don´t know, probably nobody knows details what REALLY has happened. I know such things happen and happened in the past but they were heavily mixed with speculations, trivia and gossips and it slowly became global hysteria. I think that those things should be put into order and not blow it out of proportions. Invitation for a date in 1980 isn´t the same as serious sexual harassment these days. Similar things happen in music and well as in film industry and sometimes it can be just a fantasy of someone.
You are known for openly saying what you think, aren´t you?
Yes, there are many things that really irritate me. When I was filming a film about Guy Fawkes who wanted to blow away British parliament in 17th century, a terrorist attack occurred near palace of Westminster.It was strange thing and put shooting into different dimension. That was a history, this is a present day. I think lunatics have genuinely taken over. I hated things like destruction of Palmyra. I cannot bear the assault on history. I have very serious worries about our future as a mankind.
I got under fire when it was revealed that I protested against casting of a young black actor in Doctor Who episode" Empress of Mars”. It depicted a battle involving Victorian soldiers but there weren´t any black soldiers in Victorian´s army. I think as a director I should have the right to cast who I want to cast. If I am restricted it diminishes the quality of the film or play.
Series about Sherlock Holmes became a hit although it was filmed many times. When you went to the BBC with proposal, haven´t you been welcomed with words like” Sherlock Holmes, oh, no, not again”?
No, on contrary it was dead easy and I couldn´t believe that. I wrote four series and brought famous detective to 21.century.I was playing his brother Mycroft and it was so popular that people even sent me their ideas which I refused. You know, I could come in 10 years with something similar and they would sue me. Fourth part of the series had lower ratings since people complained it´s too lever and the plot was too sophisticated. That is typical British, once it is on very top, next time they knock it down. I don´t give a damn about ratings. I am not sure if we continue with another series cos main characters Martin Freeman and Benedict Cumberbatch became stars and they schedule is very tight now. I can say it was a pleasant work, write for couple of months, shoot it for another four, ideal state for me.
On what are you working right now?
I don´t want to reveal too much, but for next year me and my collaborator Steve Moffat will bring Dracula. It is strange that in such hard days people still are interested in horrors. But again, it´s nothing new. In America the horror films had a boom during Big Depression.