Matthew McNulty THE RISING (Sky/NOWTV) | Interview


SD – Hi Matthew, you were born in Hanover, West Germany, lived in Berlin and Münster before moving to Atherton, Greater Manchester, England at the age 10. You attended Hesketh Fletcher high school and then Winstanley College. When did you realize you wanted to become an actor?

MM – I moved to England when I was 10 with no accent and to a place where if you came from the neighbouring town, you were an outsider never mind a different country so straightaway, I felt different and had to adapt to fit in. I guess the building blocks of acting started then. I was always good at accents, and I enjoyed drama at school, but it wasn’t until I was 15 when I was a lead in the school play that I started to cook any sort of ambition. Never career ambition just something I was good at, made me feel good and so wanted to do more. The moment I said to myself yes, I can do this as a job, and I want to do this as my job is when I was already doing it and getting real validation from my fellow actors Jo Froggatt, Maxine Peake and Sean Harris. That was during my first leading role in ‘See No Evil’. Even after shooting that I went back to work in a builder’s yard still not sure if it could happen, but definitely harbouring more determination to make it happen.


SD – You are best known for portraying Gaius in the epic Sky Atlantic historical drama DOMINA, series set in Ancient Rome, follows the life and rise of ‘Livia Drusilla’, the powerful wife of the power-hungry ‘Gaius’ and Seth in Misfits, but your credits extend to Steve Campbell in the brilliantly tense BAFTA and RTS nominated thriller DEADWATER FELL alongside David Tennant and Cush Jumbo and the early recognition in the BAFTA award-winning true crime drama SEE NO EVIL; THE MOORS MURDERS with Maxine Peake and Joanne Froggatt to name a few. From all the characters you have played, which one was your favourite and why?

MM – It’s hard to pick one because they’ve all been amazing experiences, and each brought something new out of me at different times in my life. Room at the top and Mark of Cain were jobs where I feel I flexed my early acting muscles, gained confidence and were great roles. Musketeers, pure fun being the baddie dancing with swords and horses. The Terror was probably the best overall experience because of the scale, writing and people, but in terms of favourite role to play, it has to be Cesare Augustus. He has so much depth, authority, charisma and thanks to the costume designer looks amazing. Who wouldn’t relish playing the first and longest reigning leader of the Roman Empire.



SD – You are currently starring in Sky One’s, THE RISING playing Tom Rees, Neve’s estranged father. The series take an unorthodox perspective of crime dramas. Please tell us what attracted you to portraying the role of Tom Rees

MM – I thought it was unique, timely, skilfully written and oozing style. It’s the story of the victim of a murder in an isolated town set amongst lakes and forests, giving it a Scandy noir base but layered with a neon flare of the supernatural. I love that we really get to know the victim through her eyes, she’s no sad vulnerable young girl spoken of and secondary to the story like most whodunnits, she’s the fierce driving force of it, investigating her own murder and exposing the failings of those who let her down when she was alive. I’d never read anything like it and with the people already involved Clara Rugaard, Ed Lilly director and writer Pete Mctighe who wrote my episode of Dr Who they all give it a grounding in reality. Add to that the fact it was Sky’s first in house drama production I knew it was going to be something special.


SD – How do you think the audience will receive Tom Rees

MM – He’s an incredibly complex character and there’s so many ways you could play him so there were lots of choices to make. His journey has a lot of lows battling alcoholism and depression, but I felt I had to search the moments where I could show that he was once a lively and fun person to be around. He’s someone that makes a lot of bad decisions, but I think despite them all he’s good in his core, so I had to find ways for the audience to empathise with him. I love the way his relationship with his daughter is reflected on and developed throughout the series too. Tragically, he becomes a better father after her death. 


SD – What can the audience expect from The Rising?

MM – It starts off quite heavy and dizzying but as the series progresses the pace picks up, the supernatural expands and sparks fly. Neve finds her feet and takes no prisoners in her crusade for justice. Don’t fuck with the ghost of Neve Kelly!


SD – Which of the fictional characters you have portrayed, would you like to meet in real life?

MM – It’s the real ones I’d like to meet, Lt. Edward Little from the Terror, we share the same birthday, so I’d love to have a rum or 2 and sing a few sea shanty’s with him on our birthday. Andy Burnham, Augustus, Luis Bunuel all fascinating and influential people you’d love to have round for dinner. Of the fictional characters? It would be quite exciting to meet Seth the power dealer from Misfits sees what he could do for me.





SD – Anything in works that you can talk about. Any exciting new projects?

MM – It was my ambition to do a musical something I thought would never happen because I’ve never done anything to suggest I’d be any good at it, however, I am currently in the process of fulfilling that ambition – I’m doing a musical! It has everything you want from a musical and as funny and heartfelt as they come. Also, it’s taken my vocal cords to highs I never thought I was capable of. Long term I just want to keep having new experiences and continue working with talented people so I can keep learning and surprising myself.

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