When he was growing up in Glasgow, Scotland, Douglas Henshall never considered becoming an actor. Although he had worked with a youth theater (initially to impress one of the local girls), he intended...
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Film acting debut, "The Big Man"; billed as Dougie Henshall; Mullan also featured in cast
Played first romantic lead as a struggling actor who gets a chance to relive his life in the fantasy "If Only/Twice Upon a Yesterday/The Man with Rain in His Shoe"
Rejected for studies in art and journalism; enrolled at Moutview Theatre School
Acted in "The Lawless Heart"; screened at Locarno Film Festival
Appeared in the ensemble of the romantic comedy "This Year's Love"
Appeared with the stage companies 7:84 and the Citizen's Theatre
Starred as Teach in a production of David Mamet's "American Buffalo"
Moved back to Scotland after completing studies and "badgered" BBC Scotland for employment; landed extra work
Portrayed the aristocratic but bullying Edward Alabaster in "Angels and Insects"
Co-starred with Ewan McGregor as an abusive husband in the Dennis Potter-scripted TV movie "Lipstick on Your Collar"
Had featured role in Peter Mullan's feature directorial debut "Orphans"
Began career as a teenager with a local youth theater; originally auditioned to impress a girl
Cast opposite Peter Mullan at the Tron Theatre in a production of the two-character play "Crow"
Starred as a chain-smoking, foul-mouthed, lecherous psychiatrist in the British TV serial "Psychos" (Channel Four)
Raised in Glasgow, Scotland
Co-starred in the BBC remake of "Anna Karenina"
When he was growing up in Glasgow, Scotland, Douglas Henshall never considered becoming an actor. Although he had worked with a youth theater (initially to impress one of the local girls), he intended to pursue a career as an artist or journalist, but when he was unable to obtain a place in his schools of choice, the 18-year-old headed to London to study at the Mountview Theatre School. Upon graduation, the strawberry blond, good-looking Henshall struggled for six months before returning to Glasgow where he launched a concentrated campaign to be hired by BBC Scotland; his persistence yielded only bit roles, however. The stage provided a conduit to success. Henshall worked with local groups, including 7:84 and the Citizens' Theatre. In 1990, he was cast opposite Peter Mullan in the two-hander "Crow" and landed his first screen role (billed as Dougie Henshall) in "The Big Man".<p> With renewed confidence, Henshall returned to London and in 1993 landed the pivotal role of an abusive English army officer in the Dennis Potter-scripted TV-movie "Lipstick on Your Collar" (Channel 4). So successful was his performance (which earned critical raves), the actor became typecast. "I just got offered variations on the same role, which I didn't want to do." Instead, he returned to stage work, this time with the Royal Shakespeare Company. "Angels and Insects" (1995) offered the opportunity to play a sarcastic aristocrat (with an unhealthy attachment to his sister) which proved more popular on the American art-house circuit than in England. He was virtually wasted, though, in the subpar fantasy adventure "Kull the Conqueror" (1997). On the other hand, "Fast Food" (1998), while uneven, proved he could be a strong romantic lead given the right material.<p> After a well-received stage performance in David Mamet's "American Buffalo" in 1997, Henshall was approached by former co-star Peter Mullan with an offer to co-star in Mullan's feature directorial debut "Orphans" (1998). Playing one of four siblings coping with the recent death of their mother, the actor offered a nuanced turn that skillfully negotiated the script's comic and tragic moments. His Michael spend the evening of his mother's funeral loping through the streets of Glasgow after being stabbed in a pub fight before finally coming to a realization by the Clyde River. Henshall has been very forthcoming in interviews over the struggle he had in interpreting this character as it required him to call upon his own mother's death. Perhaps in response to having to plumb those dark memories, he segued to back-to-back romantic comedies. In "If Only/Twice Upon a Yesterday" (1998), Henshall proved winning as an unemployed actor who finds he has a chance to replay a pivotal moment in his life. "This Year's Love" (1999), a sexual roundelay involving three couples who swap partners inadvertently over a three-year period, again allowed the actor to display his charm and charismatic screen presence. As if to avoid being pigeonholed in romantic leads, Henshall displayed his astonishing range by undertaking the starring role in the Channel Four series "Psychos" (1999), playing a highly competent but foul-mouthed and lecherous psychiatrist.
Mountview Theatre School
"I don't think you can be involved with the acting profession for any length of time and not understand anything about frustration." --Douglas Henshall quoted in URBAN CINEFILE (www.urbancinefile.com.au), fall 1998
Henshall explained to Clive King of the London TIMES, February 6, 1999 why he took the role in "If Only/Twice Upon a Yesterday": "I wanted to see if I could carry a film. I was interested to see if I could hold my own attention on the big screen. It's a perverse thing, going along to see yourself in a movie, because you can't change it. All the time, you're thinking, will people laugh? Will they get it, or will they just think I'm a wanker? It's bizarre. But when it does come off, it's hugely gratifying."
Asked how he feels about the success of Ewen McGregor, with whom he co-starred in "Lipstick on Your Collar", Henshall told Clive King of the London TIMES (February 6, 1999): "He's probably my best friend and I love him like a brother. I'm very happy that he's got what he's got. Maybe it's my own arrogance, but I don't believe anyone's got it all sewn up. I'm happy that I'll get what I want eventually because I know I'm capable of it.
"Oh, aye, there's competition, sure. That's only healthy, though. You know, there's so much cynicism and so much bitterness in this game that you hang on to the friends you make. His friendship matters more to me than all that other stuff."