Peter Mullan Demonstrates Sharp Summer Style

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Dressing for the warmer months doesn’t have to mean looking like a scruffy kidult in flip-flops and board shorts. Click through the above gallery and allow one of Britain’s best actors, the brilliant Peter Mullan, to demonstrate the correct approach to the sunny season.


In Top Of The Lake, a new seven-part TV crime drama set in small-town New Zealand, Peter Mullan, one of our finest and fiercest actors, plays the brutal father of a missing, pregnant 12-year-old girl, opposite Elisabeth Moss (Peggy from Mad Men) as the big city policewoman assigned to her case. Co-created by Jane Campion, the Oscar–winning director of The Piano and In The Cut, and co-produced by the British company behind The King’s Speech and Shame, the show is already drawing comparisons – many favourable – to classic series including Twin Peaks and The Killing.

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“It’s a series that I do think is special, a stunning piece of work,” says Mullan. “It’s edge-of-the-universe stuff, which I really like. I signed for it because the first two episodes read like a film; it's shot like that, acted like that. Quite soon we’re going to get movies where it’s said that the influences are from TV, from Breaking Bad or The Killing or The Sopranos. Without wanting to big it up too much, it’s kind of seismic.”

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Unlike Campion, for whom this is a first foray into TV, Mullan — who first came to prominence in the Nineties with roles in Ken Loach’s Riff-Raff before Braveheart and Trainspotting — has been successfully bridging the TV/cinema divide for some time. In the last four years, his film work includes a terrific turn in Paddy Considine’s Tyrannosaur, as well as parts in War Horse and the last two Harry Potter films. On TV, we’ve seen him in The Fear, in which he played a gangster with Parkinson’s, and Red Riding, in which he played a paedophile priest. Intense roles for an intense actor.

”Aye, aye,” he says, breaking into a hearty chuckle. “Playing bad guys is fun. It would be nice to play nice sometimes, but I don’t get offered many good guys these days.”

Raised in Glasgow, in tough surroundings, the 53-year-old has been acting since university. His major breakthrough was winning the Best Actor award at Cannes in 1998, for playing a violent alcoholic in Loach's My Name Is Joe. Four years later, he took the Golden Lion for Best Film at the Venice Film Festival, for writing and directing The Magdalene Sisters, based in part on his Catholic background. More recently he wrote and directed Neds (2010), again inspired by his own experiences, this time among Glasgow's teenage street-gangs. 

What he has never been offered before is a fashion shoot.  “I would only have done something like this for something special like Top Of The Lake,” he says, of his day as a gentleman outfitted on the streets of Mayfair for Esquire. “It’s been great. I’ve actually played so many different characters. I was a guy called Ralph Lauren just now.”

Mullan is enjoying a run of firsts. He recently completed filming on his first musical, Sunshine On Leith, about two squaddies returned from Afghanistan, woven around the songs of Caledonian twins The Proclaimers and directed by Dexter Fletcher. An eyebrow-raising concept, to say the least…

“Honestly, it’s funny, fantastic and bizarre. I redefine singing, stretch it to its absolute widest definition,” says Mullan. “Because, as we all know, there are only two types of musicals: really good ones and really shite ones.”

Fletcher has said Mullan, “sings very well. It’s no surprise, he is a great actor.” His star is not happy about the hat-tip: “It scares the life out of me, because I'd rather people went in with the very lowest expectations.” 

But, as with anything that has Peter Mullan’s name attached, the likelihood of that is minimal. 

Top Of The Lake begins on BBC Two this month.


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