INTERVIEW - JOHN BARROWMAN
Barrowman didn’t need a Tardis (Doctor
Who’s famous spacecraft and time machine) to take him into space.
All it took was the news that Captain Jack Harkness would be getting his
own show and he was over the moon.
viewers last saw Captain Jack in Doctor Who, he was stranded on a
satellite many thousands of years in the future. He
had heroically faced down a Dalek invasion to protect his new friends,
The Doctor and Rose – but his fate was unknown.
Jack is back, and in Russell T Davies’s dark and sexy sci-fi thriller
the Time Agent from the 51st Century is at the helm of Torchwood, an
elite, alien-fighting organization on the front line in the battle to
protect the human race.
heads up a team of secret agents who are separate from the Government,
outside police jurisdiction and beyond the United Nations. At Torchwood,
they answer to no one but themselves. They
make their own rules,” explains John Barrowman, who plays the
enigmatic action man with the mysterious past.
the leader and the glue – he keeps everyone together. He’s
the hero … although I don’t think he’d call himself a hero, he’d
just call himself a man who does the job because it needs doing.”
says the actor, the journey from his terrifying Dalek encounter to
the end of Doctor Who, Jack was becoming more human – I mean
human in the sense that he was starting to feel for other people rather
than just thinking about himself. As
Torchwood begins, he’s lost some of that. He doesn’t always
consider other people’s feelings – his priority is the good of the
things, however, never change. “He’s still fun, he still has his dry
sense of humor and I think he’s still sexy,” says the actor,
revealing that Jack is back to his old tricks, putting his moves on
everyone and, well, everything. “It doesn’t have to have a pulse for
Jack to fancy it. And if it’s got a zip code, he’ll sleep with
it,” he quips.
John (38), making Torchwood has been a huge thrill. “When
Russell T Davies and Julie Gardner and I first sat down to talk about
giving Captain Jack his own series, I was completely bowled over. It was
a childhood dream to be a character in Doctor Who, so to have my
own series was just unimaginable.
a grown man who gets to go to work every day and fight aliens, play with
guns and kiss beautiful people – what more could I ask for?”
actor has also appeared in the BBC kids’ show Live And Kicking,
the 2004 film De-Lovely, celebrity reality show Dancing On Ice
and, most recently, as a judge on the BBC series How Do You Solve
A Problem Like Maria?, the search for a new London West End star for
The Sound of Music.
life-long fan of Doctor Who, John admits that his home is stuffed
with Captain Jack memorabilia, including his racy leather trousers,
squareness gun and the bullets he aimed at the Daleks when we last saw
no surprise, then, that he was every bit as eager to find out more about
Jack as the Time Agent’s fans (or “Woodies” as John dubs them).
“When we first met Jack last year, he was a bit of a rogue, an
intergalactic con man who had become that way because of something in
his past. Two years of his
life had been wiped from his memory and he had no idea why or what went
on. Now he’s on a mission
to find out more about himself,” he explains. And
there’s no better place to do that than Torchwood, which is located on
a rift in time and space in modern-day
not a time traveler, he’s a Time Agent and he can only travel through
time with the assistance of someone like The Doctor. Now,
can be a lonely existence but Jack does find someone to confide in.
“Jack gets on with everyone in Torchwood but the only person who knows
anything about him is Gwen. Gwen comes in and she brings something new
to the team – she brings heart. And, for some reason, Jack starts to
reveal things to her.”
even Gwen and Jack have their disagreements, he admits. “Every now and
then there are major in-house battles. There are always tensions
bubbling away because they’re facing life-or-death situations every
day. Sometimes Jack gets very angry because the team doesn’t
understand why he’s doing what he’s doing. But Jack has seen
Earth’s future and he knows that the 21st Century is when it all
changes – and they’ve got to be ready.”
is hoping to find the time to give his family a guided tour of the
state-of-the art BBC studio complex where Torchwood is filmed.
“It’s a great place to work,” says John. “Doctor Who is
filmed there, too, and the Tardis and the Hub are right next to each
other – the only thing that separates us is a curtain. We all arrive
at work and go off to our separate areas and then we have a big shared
lunch place. So you might sit down with your salad next to a Weevil or
share a pizza with a Dalek … that’s pretty normal for us,” he
not everyone shares the actor’s enthusiasm for the BBC canteen. In
fact, it was all a bit much for one little boy, the son of one of the Torchwood
crew, who recently accompanied his dad to work.
explains: “We were having lunch and suddenly this very recognizable
alien walked by and the child just freaked out. He screamed and his dad
grabbed his hand and said, ‘You’ll be fine – you’re with me’.
But the kid shouted: ‘No! You can’t do anything – I have to be
with Jack!’ He literally ran over, grabbed onto my leg and wouldn’t
let go. And the poor old alien was only going outside to have a cup of
coffee and a cigarette!”
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