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Mark Addy: ‘I’m a big-boned Hercules in Atlantis!’

Mark Addy chats to What’s on TV about his starring role in BBC1’s new 13-part family adventure series from the makers of Merlin…

You seem an unlikely Hercules…

"My kids laughed when I told them I was Hercules because, like most people, they thought he was going to be all super-strength and muscles. My Hercules is nothing like that, but I like the unusual take on him."

Have you had to do any special preparation for the role?

"Spray tan! It’s a necessary evil. While it’s nice to have a tan, because it’s a spray tan it’s a bit smelly - and at night your sheets are just orange!"

Do you think this different take on Hercules and Atlantis will surprise some people?

"Maybe! The Rock is doing a Hercules movie in Hollywood next year and of course I’m nothing like him. Basically think of a Greek Falstaff. He’s his own spin-doctor. If he was involved in a tavern brawl, by the time he got home he’d have taken on 30 or 40 men and exaggerated it all out of proportion. You see him manufacturing legends."

How does he come to befriend the drama’s hero, Jason (Jack Donnelly) and his triangle-obsessed pal Pythagoras (War Horse star Robert Emms)?

"He provides them with a place to live. Their friendship is like a three-way bromance. Although our Hercules likes drink, women and gambling, and he’s little overweight - though he likes to say ‘big-boned’ – he’s involved in a lot of action with the boys. In episode one you see them fighting with the Minotaur!"

What other sort of things does he get up to?

"Generally he gets them into scrapes because he owes somebody money or hasn’t paid a debt. He does have strength and occasionally he uses it, but the mortal side of him has over taken the godly side."

Are there similarities, then, to your Game of Thrones character Robert Baratheon?

"There are, in a coincidental way. Hercules is different in that you don’t exactly know why he is the way he is. There are elements of the Hercules story, which I don’t know whether we’ll touch on. Some of them are a little too dark for Saturday evening viewing. With visual effects, neither of these shows are cheap; if you try to do them cheaply then it falls apart. For British TV Atlantis is quite a big budget thing, and you can see the difference that makes. It allows the audience to immerse itself in this world and go on a journey with the characters. It’s great we’re doing something of this quality and calibre. The stunts and effects are amazing, making this TV drama almost movie-like. It’s great family viewing."

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