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An actor diversifies: a diachronic examination of the work and career of Tony Curran

Cassidy, G. and Knox, S. ORCID: (2019) An actor diversifies: a diachronic examination of the work and career of Tony Curran. In: Fife Donaldson, L. and Walters, J. (eds.) Television Performance. Red Globe Press, London, pp. 168-187. ISBN 9781137608192

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This co-authored chapter explores the television work of actor Tony Curran as it has developed during the course of his professional life. Trained at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama (now Royal Conservatoire of Scotland), Tony Curran has had a successful career for roughly two decades; one that spans film (e.g. Shallow Grave (1994), Gladiator (2000), Red Road (2006; for which he won a Scottish BAFTA and a British Independent Film award), and Thor: The Dark World (2013)), theatre (e.g. Victoria (Royal Shakespeare Company/Traverse Theatre) and The Glory of Living (Royal Court)), videogames (Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3), and television. The chapter explores his work in terms of its notable variety and versatility, using the following case studies: Curran’s small-screen breakthrough as gay Scottish plumber Lenny in BBC2 drama This Life (1997); his portrayal of painter Vincent van Gogh for British SF series Doctor Who (BBC1, 2005-present); an alien in SF series Defiance (Syfy, 2013-2015); and a slave plantation overseer in Roots (History Channel, 2016). Following a chronological approach, this chapter examines his work and working practices across a number of programmes, contexts and years by combining close analysis of selected moments of Curran’s acting with insights gleaned from an in-depth personal interview with the actor. The chapter’s argument is that Curran’s versatility involves a number of factors, both within and exceeding his creative agency. These include confidence and creative risk-taking, an emphasis on acting as a craft that requires discipline, preparation and attention to the methods of production and exhibition, as well as awareness of the social culture within which the careers of actors are located. In doing so, our analysis illuminates issues concerning acting and the professional life of actors within the contemporary creative industries that have wider relevance beyond the chapter’s focus on Curran himself, especially concerning the emotional labour undertaken by actors.

Item Type:Book or Report Section
Divisions:Arts, Humanities and Social Science > School of Arts and Communication Design > Film, Theatre & Television
ID Code:74161
Uncontrolled Keywords:Tony Curran; actor; acting; emotional labour; This Life; Doctor Who; Defiance; Roots.
Publisher:Red Globe Press


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