Panto! Robert Lindsay plays baddie Captain Hook

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Shiver me timbers! Robert Lindsay talks to Living In Magazines about playing the dastardly Captain Hook in Peter Pan at Richmond Theatre this Christmas.

Pippa Duncan: With such a diverse career playing everyone from Wolfie Smith to Tony Blair, Onassis to Oberon, what brings you to Captain Hook and Panto?

Robert Lindsay: I was asked! Pantomime is one area of the acting world I’ve never experienced before, so I jumped at the chance. I’m a big Panto fan, and to be given the chance of playing the ultimate baddie in the form of Captain Hook was too good an opportunity to pass by.

PD: You’ve just been in the Terrance Rattigan play In Praise of Love and now Captain Hook. Do you like to mix the parts you take?

RL: I’m extremely fortunate to be able to play a range of parts and I’m in the very privileged position to be able to choose the projects I really want to work on. In Praise of Love was a real passion project, a play I’d wanted to do for quite some time. To get to do it with that cast in the intimacy of the Ustinov Studio in Bath was wonderful.

To have the opportunity to go from the suspense of Terrance’s play into Pantomime, with all the scale and spectacle of a West End musical, is really appealing. I recently finished filming for Disney with Angelina Jolie and Michelle Pfeiffer on Maleficent 2 which is out later in the year.

PD: You’ve managed to balance darker characters and comedy roles in your career – how does it feel to be playing a dark and comedic character as Captain Hook?

RL: It’s interesting but there can be a lot of comedy in the darker characters, it forms part of their DNA, that light and shade. My Captain Hook will be no different. He may well be after capturing Peter Pan but he’ll deliver his own punchlines, too. Essentially, Panto is fun, and I want to be a part of that, but bring some swashbuckling villainy at the same time!

PD: How do you feel about playing at the Richmond Theatre?

RL: I know the theatre well and how beautiful it is. You can tell it’s a Matcham venue [built by architect, Frank Matcham in 1899], given its beautiful design and intimacy. I can’t wait to play it.

PD: What do you think that Panto offers families at Christmas – an escape from reality?

RL: In a world where every member of a family is glued to a screen on their phones, tablets or televisions, it’s the perfect opportunity to turn those things off, to share a common experience, one where they can suspend their disbelief and enjoy a fantastic story.

Panto is so vital, especially for young children, as a first introduction to live theatre, it begins a love that hopefully lasts a lifetime.

PD: How will you be spending your Christmas Day?

RL: We are going to be very busy playing two shows a day, so Christmas Day will be a rare day off. As soon as the curtain comes down on Christmas Eve, I’ll head home to my wife and spend the day with the family. I’ll sleep in, have a traditional roast with all our loved ones, walk the dog and do as little as possible before it’s back to Neverland for Boxing Day!

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