Also showing: Kevin McKidd

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 03 May, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 03 May, 2007, 12:00am

With his star turn as the steadfast and statuesque Lucius Vorenus in the television series Rome, Kevin McKidd has finally attained the fame and fortune that seasoned viewers expected of him when he made his film debut in Trainspotting 11 years ago. However, there's a price to pay for portraying Julius Caesar's loyal fighter in one of the most successful television series in recent years.

'As far as [getting] roles as a doctor in a medical drama or a lawyer in a court drama is concerned, it might be a danger,' McKidd says when asked about the risk of being typecast. 'I've been getting a lot of [offers as] soldiers lately, which is worrying.'

Having dedicated most of the past two years to Rome, McKidd's big-screen career has basically ground to a halt. And one of the two films he's taken time out to work on between the making of seasons one and two, The Last Legion (to be released in autumn), is also set in the last days of the Roman Empire. (The other is Hannibal Rising, in which he plays a soldier.)

That's a small drawback compared with the boost his spell on Rome gave him. 'People seem to be more aware that I exist now,' says McKidd, who has appeared in more than 30 middle- to low-budget films between Trainspotting and Rome.

'I still have to go to auditions because it's a very competitive market with a lot of very good actors fighting for the same roles. Before, I wasn't even getting into the room and meeting somebody, whereas now I'm getting into the room slightly more.'

The 33-year-old Scottish actor couldn't have chosen a better vehicle to showcase his acting than Rome. It's a gripping spectacle that explores two turbulent decades, covering the rise and fall of Julius Caesar, the Roman Republic brutally replaced by the Roman Empire, and webs of deceit and desire surrounding Octavian, Mark Antony and Cleopatra. His Lucius Vorenus is one of the few fictional characters in the series: an erstwhile controlled and upright soldier who loses his wife at the end of the first season and emerges as a dark and ferocious figure in the second. It's through the prism of Lucius Vorenus that this era of Rome's history is played out.

Rome offers McKidd plenty of scope to convey emotions, he says. 'People are speaking in dialect and colloquialisms that you normally never see in your typical BBC television drama, which are all very 'properly' done [Rome is a co-production of HBO, BBC and Italian broadcaster RAI]. This seems much more irreverent, but still also very real.'

Indeed, one thing about Rome that captured viewers' attention is its fairly liberal use of coarse language and violence - rare in a medium and a genre often fearful of antagonising family audiences.

Doing television has been a challenge and it's sharpened his skills. 'Physically, the past 21/2 years I've been pretty much before the lens all the time, and the only way to learn film acting is to actually get up and do it,' says McKidd, who took an apartment in the Italian capital to live near Cinecitta Studios, where the series was shot. 'If you're doing it all the time you build confidence. Practice makes perfect.'

He'll be returning to television in the near future, having completed a pilot last month for a new series tentatively entitled Journeyman, in which he plays a journalist in San Francisco. He was also cast to play Dylan Thomas in a biopic about the Welsh poet, but the project was put on hold due to funding difficulties. Given these developments, perhaps McKidd's fears of being typecast may be laid to rest for the time being.

Rome, Monday, 11pm, HBO (new season starts May 7)