Matthew Macfadyen defends his choice to do "Secret Life" (April 2007)

The Sun Online has published an interview of Matthew Macfadyen explaining why he chose to do "Secret Life".

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Paedo role spooks Matthew

April 04, 2007

SPOOKS star Matthew Macfadyen has defended his role as a paedophile in a disturbing new Channel 4 drama.

Matthew, who recently played Mr Darcy opposite Keira Knightley in the movie Pride And Prejudice, said: “It was very daunting but also exciting to play a role which wasn’t terribly comfortable.

“I think the treatment of paedophiles is a debate worth having, rather than not having. It’s a very difficult subject."

In Secret Life, the actor, 32, plays Charlie, a swimming coach convicted of having sex with three young girls, who is trying to rebuild his life and curb his vile desires after being released from prison.

Abused by his father as a child himself, he realises he is still a threat to children but his efforts seem to be in vain after the sex offenders’ rehabilitation centre where he lives is shut down because of public protests.

As a result, he is moved to Home Office approved accommodation where he’s under the same roof as a family of asylum seekers.

Without any help, he is chased by vigilantes and then starts stalking young girls at a fairground…

Matthew went on: “I found the scenes where Charlie is in the fairground trying to pick up young girls really horrible. A lot was improvised and it wasn’t easy.

“Of course there are no scenes of abuse – none of us would have been involved if there had been. It’s not a drama about the act of paedophilia.

“It’s about how society can protect more children by looking at the greater need for provision to prevent re-offending after prison.

“I hope this makes people think about the issues involved. You can’t just throw all paedophiles down a well and forget about them, no matter how much people might want to do that. There has to be a debate."

He added: "It’s a very intelligent script – I found Charlie both a sympathetic and repellent character. He is shown to be a corrupt man who has committed terrible crimes.

“But I did sympathise with his struggle and perseverance in trying not to offend but nothing is black and white in the drama.

“The interesting thing about Charlie is that he is trying to do the right thing. He is trying not to hurt anyone anymore. But I don’t think I was trying to make him more palatable.”

The actor who has two young children with actress wife Keeley Hawes said that she approved of his decision to take the part.

He explained: “She didn’t try to put me off the role, she read the script and thought it was very good and worth doing.”

The drama screened on April 19 has already been criticised by the charity the National Association for People Abused in Childhood.

Founder Peter Saunders said: “Charlie is not a typical child abuser. Children are in far greater danger of being attacked by someone they know, often within the family, than by a stranger at a funfair.

“Charlie also appears to make an excuse that he is an abuser as it happened to him. The vast majority of people who are abused would never choose to inflict on others what was done to them.

“There is also little or no reference to the immense harm inflicted by this crime on the victim.

“NAPAC supports working with offenders but adult survivors of child abuse tend to be left high and dry and left to deal with the consequences of abuse in isolation.”

Secret Life, Channel 4, April 19, 10pm