Jason Isaacs' latest project is a love letter to Old Hollywood. And, as he steps into the fake tan and designer shoes of Cary Grant; it seems ludicrous that any other actor could attempt to take on the man behind the Mid-Atlantic accent, and with such ease.
In a word, Jason's portrayal is uncanny, but behind-the-scenes, the star went to great lengths to bring Cary Grant – otherwise known as Archibald Alec Leach – back to our screens.
Ahead of the release of Archie on ITVX, Jason teamed up with series creator Jeff Pope and executive producer, Jennifer Grant, for an exclusive chat with HELLO!. Here's how the trio lifted the Hollywood legend off of the page and back into the limelight…
During the early days of the project, the search for the eponymous 'Archie' brought up numerous contenders, but it was Jason's performance in the American drama film, Mass (2021), that intrigued Jennifer Grant – aka the real-life daughter of Cary Grant.
"It was your performance in Mass because you have such depth," she explained, turning to the star. "I mean, obviously you're a beautiful man, and you have the charisma and the look. And internally to find someone who can do comedy, and also have depth, that's such a rare combination.
"If you think about today's actors, to find someone really beautiful and funny and who's also deep is rare," she added. "So if you see him in Mass, there's such a restrained depth, it's there, it's right there. You can feel it."
But for Jason, the Harry Potter alum, 60, was initially reluctant to take on the role, and almost turned it down. "We had a weird meeting because you [Jeff Pope] offered me the job and I didn't want to do it because it just felt too scary," he reflected.
"Frankly, too much of a ludicrous thing to step into. So I came to talk to you [Jeff] for hours and hours and hours. Normally it's the other way around. You're auditioning for a job, hoping you get an offer at the end.
"I left and you went 'Well, I hope you take the job' and I had no way to think about it other than, that's one of the most collaborative open men I've ever met. Then I'm thinking 'Does he really mean it? Is he really going to be like that, you know, and just jump in the pit with me?' And you were."
Thankfully it all worked out in the long run, but after deciding to play the titular character, Jason went to great lengths to understand the actor, who was notoriously private, and extremely selective with interviews.
In fact, series creator Jeff Pope had no idea that Jason was carrying out much deeper research behind-the-scenes. "I looked at the minutes of business meetings because people have records and there are places that have collated those things so it's easy to find," explained Jason.
Throughout the interview, it became clear that Jason is an unfailingly humble actor – and sincerely so. In fact, for the A-lister, it's all about the collaborative process, and he refuses to take sole credit, or even a compliment for his performance.
"When you get a part, like playing your dad [Jennifer], as written by Jeff and directed by Paul, that is so rich and complicated…actors get far more credit than we deserve because I'm the same actor and I do things that are unmemorable too," he explained.
"You know, the year I made Mass, I made a bunch of commercial things that are forgettable in which I am forgettable, and it's only when the writing allows you to fill up a human being full of life…[As actors] we can run with the ball but someone's got to give it to you."