Renowned actor Jason Isaacs is immersing himself in the role of Hollywood legend Cary Grant for the upcoming four-part bio-drama “Archie” on ITV. Grant, born Archibald Leach in a modest Bristol neighborhood, rose from challenging circumstances to become one of the most iconic stars of the mid-20th century.
Isaacs reveals the extensive transformation process required for the role, including daily spray tans to emulate Grant’s sun-kissed California appearance. “When the makeup comes off at the end of the day, there’s almost nothing that’s me,” Isaacs shares. The bio-drama, set to air on ITV, aims to delve into the layers of Grant’s life, portraying the man behind the silver screen persona.
Jeff Pope, the writer and executive producer of “Archie,” emphasizes the unique and compelling nature of Cary Grant’s story. Born into a poor working-class family, Grant’s childhood was marked by hardship and neglect. The bio-drama unfolds the complexity of Grant’s life, including the shocking revelation that his mother, believed to be dead, was actually alive in a psychiatric hospital.
Isaacs describes Grant’s early life as one of mistreatment, neglect, abuse, and constant hunger. The actor’s obsessive aversion to wasting food was a direct result of his challenging upbringing. “He was hungry for most of his early life,” Isaacs reflects, highlighting the impact of Grant’s tumultuous childhood on his later years.
The drama explores Grant’s relationships, including his marriage to actor Dyan Cannon, his fourth wife. Cannon, 33 years younger than Grant, became the mother of his only child, Jennifer. The bio-drama presents the transformative effect of fatherhood on Grant, who, at the height of his career, chose to be a single dad, signaling a shift from his previous avoidance of children.
Pope drew inspiration for “Archie” from Jennifer Grant’s book, “Good Stuff,” which revealed Cary Grant’s decision to prioritize fatherhood over his acting career. The narrative weaves through three crucial child-parent relationships in Grant’s life: with his mother, father, and daughter.
Laura Aikman, known for her role in “Gavin & Stacey,” plays Dyan Cannon in the bio-drama. Aikman acknowledges the challenge of portraying a real, living person and capturing the essence of Cannon’s charm and humor. The drama addresses societal dynamics of the time, exploring the balance between women’s behavior then and now, particularly in marriages.
The bio-drama touches on contemporary concerns about power imbalances in showbiz relationships, evident in a key scene where Grant considers turning down a film due to concerns about the age difference between him and co-star Audrey Hepburn.
“Archie” offers a multifaceted portrayal of Cary Grant, exploring the dichotomy between Archie Leach, the Bristol boy, and Cary Grant, the Hollywood icon. The narrative dives deep into Grant’s internal struggles and the civil war within him as he reconciles his two identities.
As the drama unfolds, viewers are invited to witness the masked reality of Cary Grant, where even his obsession with maintaining a bronzed appearance becomes just another layer of the actor’s carefully constructed image. “It might have looked odd in the flesh, but it worked on screen,” Isaacs reflects, emphasizing the extent to which Grant’s life was a complex interplay of reality and illusion.