Arts

Jimmy Nesbitt and Stephen Hagan return in Stan Lee's Lucky Man

Jenny Lee chats to Co Antrim actor Stephen Hagan about acting alongside James Nesbitt in the fantasy crime drama Stan Lee's Lucky Man, working with elephants in the forthcoming film about Belfast Zoo, and Steven Seagal

Jimmy Nesbitt (DI Harry Clayton) and Stephen Hagan (Rich Clayton) in the fantasy crime drama Stan Lee's Lucky Man

NORTHERN Ireland actors James Nesbitt and Stephen Hagan are reunited as on-screen brothers in Sky One's hit crime drama, Stan Lee's Lucky Man. Created by renowned comic book writer Stan Lee and Neil Biswas, the drama is based on the concept that a mysterious bracelet can bring its owner, DI Harry Clayton (Nesbitt), tremendous amounts of luck.

Series one of Stan Lee’s Lucky Man, which became Sky1's most watched original drama series ever, saw Hagan’s character (Rich Clayton) go through a lot. He even ended up in prison at one point, having been framed for the murder of his girlfriend.

The 32-year-old Greenisland native, who graduated from the prestigious London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art, last year starred in Risen, the epic Biblical story of the Resurrection, alongside Joseph Fiennes and most recently was part of the cast of Paddy Kielty's BBC Radio Ulster satirical radio comedy Big Country.

He has also been busy with filming for the forthcoming film Zoo, based on the true story of Denise Austin, a keeper at Belfast Zoo during the blitz in 1941.

Can you tell me more about Rich Clayton, the character you play in Stan Lee's Lucky Man?

He's an antiques dealer who is very good at his job and is well informed about his area of expertise as well as the slightly darker side of the criminal underworld associated with his work. He helped Harry out a lot, which ended up being bad news for Rich and landed him in hot water.

Will Rich and Harry’s relationship be tested in series two?

I believe Rich has had enough of backing Harry and had to stand up to him. At the start of series two Harry is trying to create a relationship again but Rich is very aware of all the bad stuff that happens when Harry and the bracelet are around.

Have you enjoyed teaming up again with Jimmy Nesbitt? How would you like to be his little brother in real life?

It's been good fun. I always thought I would be playing his son but Jimmy seems to have a Peter Pan quality about him. I'm glad I'm not his little brother in real life – I've already got one big brother I need to look after

Why do you think the series has been such a hit?

It's unlike anything else on television at the moment. There's the cop drama aspect, comic book feel and mystical side to the stories. For me, though, it is the human relationships that are thrown into the mix that make it.

Were you a fan of Stan Lee and comic books when you were growing up?

I've only really got into the comic books recently, but I was always a big fan of the Marvel Universe. I have always liked Banana Man – he's my dream role.

Did you enjoy playing the vet in the forthcoming movie The Zoo and had you any amusing moments filming with animals?

It was great. My character is seen as the 'baddie' who is drafted in to help kill the larger animals. Most of my scenes involved the elephant. I had to fly out to Canada to film with Nellie the elephant, as she was the right size and age to play the elephant in the film. My first time filming with her, I was so excited and in awe of her and I was grinning like a schoolboy throughout the very serious scene. After the first take, the director had to pull me to one side and say "You're the vet of a zoo... you've seen a bloody elephant before."

Do you think you will return to the Northern Ireland stage some day?

I haven't been on stage for about five years now so getting back on the stage anywhere is something I'm looking forward to. The Northern Ireland stage is where it all started for me, as an 11-year-old in Oliver at the Arts Theatre, so it would be nice to go full circle.

You were in the Steven Seagal action film Against the Dark back in 2009. That must have been quite an experience?

Steven Seagal is everything you would expect him to be. He travelled between his trailer and set with some sort of animal fur (not costume) draped over him, accompanied by five female personal assistants. He took the whole cast out for dinner at the end and gave us all a copy of his album as a gift. I think I 'forgot' mine in the taxi on the way home.

:: Series two of Stan Lee's Lucky Man begins on Sky 1 on February 24 at 9pm.

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