Daily Mail Online
4 Feb 2011
We’re in this together: How fears of their midlife crisis united the stars of Life on Mars and Hustle on and off screen
He’s the antithesis of his alpha alter ego in Hustle and describes himself as a woman’s man, but Marc Warren has brought together the best of television’s testosterone-fuelled stars to make a series about male friendship.
Warren stars with Max Beesley, Philip Glenister and John Simm in Mad Dogs, a psychological thriller about four ordinary blokes who become embroiled in a dark comic tale of deception and murder which puts their friendship to the ultimate test.
As Rick, Warren plays a man whose marriage is in trouble. But Mad Dogs, which was his idea, was born out of a midlife crisis.
‘When I reached 40 it was a turning point for life unravelling because I started to think about death a lot,’ says Warren, now 43.
‘So I wrote a draft series called Two Roads about four guys re uniting. It was about turning 40 and the choices we have.
‘I’d worked with Phil and John on Life On Mars and with Max in Hustle, and thought it would be great if we could all do something together. So, although the script changed dramatically, Mad Dogs is still about male friendship.
‘Off-screen, we’re all roughly the same age and at the same stage of life, and it seemed a good idea to create a drama to explore the darker aspects of friendship and ageing.
‘We spent hours upon hours, week after week talking about life, friendships, loneliness and whether we’d do it all again a second time over.’
So how did they get on in reality? ‘I was nervous because I’ve never hung around with groups of guys. I don’t like it and I prefer to be with women,’ admits Warren who is now single after dating glamour model Abi Titmuss. They split in 2009.
‘I was terrified because I knew they were fantastic actors and there was a chemistry between us on-screen in previous shows. But it was electric from the word go.’
At 17, Warren left his home in Northampton and moved to London to enrol in the East 15 Acting School, only to drop out two years later. His break came in 1999 as the malevolent Monks, half-brother of Oliver in a TV version of Oliver Twist.
With his Plasticine face and enormous, piercing blue eyes — which earned him the school nickname of Froggy — Warren’s success has been down to his versatility, although he tends to play disturbed characters.
‘I think I’m good at looking moody. I tend to fit the strange and tortured characters,’ he says, in his strong Estuary English twang.
‘I worked closely with Mad Dogs writer Cris Cole, and although all four of us got to choose our roles, one of the advantages was that I got to choose first. I said to Cris: “I want to be the loose cannon.”
‘Although I tend to be quite quiet and do my own thing, I enjoy playing people who are a little bit out there. Playing nutters and going a bit crazy exorcises something in me.
‘But if I am at a social event I always sit back. I guess I’m a beta male, although when I’m working I feel alpha.’
Father-of-two Simm, now 40 and married to actress Kate Magowan, says even off-screen the three Life On Mars actors revert to their characters. He, of course, was Sam Tyler, with Glenister playing the iconic Gene Hunt.
‘I call Phil “Guv” and he says: “Don’t do that Tyler,” ’ Simm laughs.
Glenister, 47, married to actress Beth Goddard with whom he has two children, admits it has been a contrast playing ‘the mousey figure as opposed to the lion’, in Mad Dogs.
‘My character, Quinn, is a mild-mannered psychology lecturer. He’s a quiet one who hasn’t really achieved what he set out to and is at a crossroads in his life.
‘His marriage is broken down, his kids are at university so he doesn’t quite know where to go next. But it’s been great fun doing Mad Dogs because we’re playing it very naturally, like the old mates we are.
‘Then, of course, we had to get Beesley involved. The new boy. It was a case of: “Fetch me my tea, Beesley.” ’
Beesley, who went out with Scary Spice Melanie Brown and spent four years as boyfriend of Foot ballers’ Wives actress Susie Amy, claims he is currently single. He recognises that joining the three established co-stars was a risk.
‘It could have been a disaster, it really could. Four lads who are doing quite well with their own shows then getting together.
‘It could have exploded in all our faces. But we all watched each other work and said:
“Oh it’s great man, nice take.” Although who knows, by the next series, I might want to stab everyone.’
Mad Dogs was a timely opportunity for Beesley, who admits: ‘I’d gone through a bit of a tough time out in the States, where I was getting constant knockbacks on jobs.
‘I was quite cavalier at school and I have this thing now I’m older that I wasted a lot of time. So getting this good script and this good role as Woody came at the right time.’
And is he also having a midlife crisis? ‘I’ll be 40 in April and I’m delicately coming round to the idea.
‘Obviously I feel that I’m quite handsome and young still,’ he laughs. ‘I think that when you get older, you put up with things less.
‘I think I’ll still have that drive and ambition until the day I die.
‘And I’ve picked a few good mates in the business over the years — which is rare — and now, thanks to Mad Dogs, I have some more.’
Warren agrees: ‘On set all you could hear was Max, God bless him. He drove me insane, but we have a passionate relationship and I love him to bits.
‘I never used to have male friendships, but that’s all changed since Mad Dogs. But there’s something quite vulnerable in that.’
- Mad Dogs starts on February 10 at 9pm on Sky 1 HD and Sky 1.