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Hans 2002



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You need Hans to be a TV pin-up

Evening Times; Glasgow (UK); Dec 7, 2002; Andy Dougan;

In the short space of a couple of weeks, Hans Matheson has gone from a half-recognised TV face to the nation's newest heart-throb.

The Scottish actor's performance in the title role of Dr Zhivago, which reaches its dramatic conclusion tomorrow night, has won him millions of female fans.

Playing the doctor/poet Yury Zhivago is not the first time 27- year-old Hans has played a role caught up in revolutionary times.

Previously he starred as Marius, the charismatic young Parisian revolutionary opposite Liam Neeson in the big screen version of Les Miserables.

He also played Mordred, King Arthur's illegitimate son, in the Mists Of Avalon; guitarist Luke Shand in the Golden Globe-nominated Still Crazy; and a number of other roles in high-profile projects.

This week, for example, he can be seen in the new British horror film Deathwatch.

But none of these parts has had anything like the impact of Zhivago. Perhaps Hans suspected as much which is why he spent so much time researching the book by Boris Pasternak.

"His poetry inspired me beyond belief. Read Dr Zhivago, then read his poetry," he says enthusiastically.

In fact Hans believes that Pasternak would have given the TV production his blessing, and even says he felt the presence of Pasternak during filming.

"We were doing the scene where Yury and Lara (Keira Knightley) meet for the first time after the war," Hans explains.

"They meet in a courtyard, and in the book it describes this gust of wind that blows through the middle of them, and it actually happened to Keira and I.

"The director and I just looked at each other and thought, he's with us."

Preparing for the role of Yury required Hans to revisit some dark places in his own life, although he won't go into detail.

"I think the essence of Yury is that he is in love with life. Whatever tragedies happen to him, they inspire him to a new understanding of life and love," he says.

"My job is to understand his emotional journey and I do because of my own experiences in life. There have been times in my life when I have felt lost.

"Looking back you see why you had to experience that. Some people would become cynical, and that is the great thing about Yury - he never becomes cynical, but keeps his heart open.

"It is a great opportunity to play a wonderful character with such a huge range of emotions. I hope people will be inspired to read the book because it's incredible and stands the test of time."

There are those who believed that David Lean's film version of Zhivago would also stand the test of time and remaking it for television was a pointless exercise. Not surprisingly Hans doesn't agree.

Acting for him is not a competition and, as he points out, the same comparisons aren't made when people play Hamlet again and again.

"Each generation is allowed its own interpretations of Shakespeare and perhaps Zhivago should have the same consideration.

"The David Lean film was the first time anyone had really experienced epic wide-screen cinema with a great score, so it was magical for them and always will be.

"I am not Omar Sharif and Keira is not Julie Christie. I am Hans Matheson playing Zhivago and Keira Knightley is playing Lara. Films have moved on since Lean's version. I feel there is something more real about this production."

lThe concluding episode of Dr Zhivago is screened on Sunday, Scottish, 9pm.

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(Copyright 2002 SMG Newspapers Ltd.)