Monday, 2 February 2009

Philip Glenister: Forget Demons and Gene Hunt, my kids want me to be Doctor Who

Philip Glenister in Demons (Pic:ITV)

Even in his new role – as a vampire-hunter called Rupert – actor Philip Glenister is finding it hard to escape his most famous character.

He laughs: “At one point, they tried to have Rupert take out his hip flask and I said, ‘No, that’s too Gene Hunt.’”

Philip shot to fame as the no-nonsense hard-drinking detective in time-travel cop shows Life on Mars and Ashes to Ashes. And now he’s back as Rupert Galvin, a wise-cracking vampire hunter in new ITV1 sci-fi drama Demons. Philip says: “The whole point of doing this is to get away from Gene.

“If I were 25 and only known for being Gene that would be a problem. But I’m at an age where I’ve done enough stuff. However, you have to remind people in this business that you can do something else.”

More than six million tuned in on Saturday night to watch Philip play mysterious ex-CIA agent Rupert, now a crusader in a war between humans and the half-life in modern-day London.

The new role sees Philip trying his hand at an American accent… and some stunts.

“Actually accents seem to be one of the few things I was born with a head for,” he says.

“I’ve done so many – northern, American, German, I don’t think I could do my own accent anymore. I wouldn’t know how to play myself. I also get thrown over a few cars, I get burnt and I have to fight a demon which involved me wearing a special harness so I could be yanked backwards very sharply – not a comfortable experience."

“I also have this gun – a pulse gun which has to be the most useless weapon in the world. I never seem to kill anyone, I keep threatening people and then I get hurled 25 feet across a car park!”

He may be trying to distance himself from Hunt but the public took the Mancunian copper to their hearts almost overnight when Life on Mars first aired three years ago.

There are now websites devoted to Hunt’s legendary one-liners – “She’s as nervous as a very small nun at a penguin shoot” and “He’s got fingers in more pies than a leper on a cookery course” among the most popular. The success has taken Philip by surprise… not least because he’s become an unlikely sex symbol.

He was recently voted fourth-sexiest man in a women’s magazine, behind Joseph star Lee Mead, Phillip Schofield and Spooks actor Richard Armitage. He laughs: “I didn’t see it but Paul O’Grady told me about it. My friends found it highly amusing. I heard I beat David Tennant – that’s something.

“Of course I know it’s Gene Hunt they find attractive, not me. And no, I don’t get indecent proposals. It’s not like women are flinging themselves at me in Waitrose.”

(Beth Neil -

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