Aidan Turner tells Charlotte Runcie about his starring role in the BBC’s swashbuckling new series of Poldark, and the highs and lows of his past life in Middle Earth
The day we meet, Aidan Turner has just got off a flight from America. “When I woke up before we landed,” he says, “guess who had just been sleeping next to me the whole time? Jeremy Irons!”
This isn’t just luvvie name-dropping. Telling the story, he visibly inflates with glee. Wide-eyed, tall, impossibly good-looking and with a mop of dark, curly hair scraped back from his face, the Irish actor fizzes with life. Despite recently starring in the Hobbit films and being poised to play the romantic lead in the BBC’s swashbuckling new rendition of the Seventies TV series Poldark, Turner is easily starstruck.
As well as playing the dwarf Kili in the three-part Hobbit juggernaut, Turner is already known to British TV viewers as Mitchell the vampire in BBC Three series Being Human, and as the libertine poet-painter Dante Gabriel Rossetti in 2009’s Desperate Romantics. His roles have inspired a cultish following, and though he says he doesn’t do social media himself, he’s aware that there are swathes of the internet where “Aidan Turner Forever” is a sacred mantra for fans.
There is a “Sexy Aidan” creative writing group devoted to him on the microblogging site Tumblr, and stories across the web gushing about how nice he is. He is bemusedly grateful for his community of supporters, whom he calls “a real posse”, though he says one persistent rumour of his altruism, a story about him saving a fan from a mugger in Odessa, is “completely fabricated”. With the BBC’s trailers for Poldark promising multiple scenes starring Turner in varying states of undress, often indulging in a brooding gaze or two, his devoted fan communities aren’t likely to be going anywhere.
Turner, 31, is the son of an electrician and an accountant and grew up near Dublin, born in the same house he subsequently lived in for 21 years. At 19, having never seen a play before, he decided to apply to the nearby Gaiety Acting School and, to his surprise, was given a place. The training was, he says, “electrifying”.
The Hobbit was his Hollywood big break, and working in New Zealand with Jackson’s epic-scale CGI was a culture shock after years of TV. “At first, you’re aware that you’re standing in front of a green screen talking to a tennis ball, but then you relax and it becomes very easy to act as if everything is really there. The problem then comes [in other, more conventional scenes] when the tennis ball is replaced with Sir Ian McKellen and you have to look into his eyes, and you’re like, f—! It’s Sir Ian McKellen!
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