Sir Felix Carbury

The Way We Live Now

Sir Felix Carbury
Matthew MacFadyen

Assets: his mother's purse and several thousand pounds worth of probably worthless gambling IOU's from his club chums the Hon. Dolly Longestaffe, Lord Nidderdale and the Hon. Miles Grendall.

Prospects: an absolute fortune, if he can sober up in time to elope with the richest heiress in London.

Felix is useless, spoilt, lazy, capricious and selfish, but, to the ladies at least, he can be funny, attractive and charming. He is also, after Melmotte, the biggest con artist -- especially when it comes to women. The women he uses -- innocently or otherwise -- include his mother Lady Carbury, his sister Hetta, and his two lovers, Melmotte's daughter Marie and country girl Ruby Ruggles.

Andrew Davies comments: "Felix Carbury is so pathetic, yet very attractive to women. He's utterly contemptible really, and he's my favorite character."

Matthew MacFadyen, who was nominated RTS Best Actor for the BBC/Deep Indigo production of Warriors, admits that his character -- a member of an aristocratic Victorian "brat pack" -- did call for some serious and pleasurable research.

The profligate waster Felix spends the night hours at his club, the Beargarden just off St. James', gambling and drinking. Daylight hours are for bed or hunting.

"There are four characters who spend most of their time in the Beargarden Club," says MacFadyen, seen most recently in three very different roles, the Scouser squaddie Private James in Warriors, the lead role of Daniel in BBC Two's Perfect Strangers, and as the battle-scarred naval officer in Michael Apted's Enigma.

So, MacFadyen and fellow actors Richard Cant (Dolly Longestaffe), Stuart McQuarrie (Lord Nidderdale) and Angus Wright (Miles Grendall) quite often found themselves at their own drinking hole. "I made great friends with Richard, Stuart and Angus. We had a lot of fun over a few glasses of wine, but you kind of felt it was okay because it was research. I'm not sure I could enjoy that sort of Victorian club life for real -- you'd certainly have no liver by the end of it." They were joined one evening by a professional poker player to show them how to deal, shuffle and so on, and a magician to demonstrate the art of slipping cards up their sleeves.

MacFadyen, whose mother trained as a drama teacher and whose father was involved in directing amateur drama, was trained at RADA. His recent theatre credits include Howard Davies' Battle Royal (National/ RSC), Declan Donnellan's School for Scandal (Barbican) and The Duchess of Malfi (West End, New York and international RSC tour). His films include Paul McGuigan's Sacrifice and Ben Elton's Maybe Baby. Other television includes the role of Hareton Earnshaw in Wuthering Heights.