STACK caught up with the veteran Scottish actor ahead of his appearance at Supanova Comic Con & Gaming expo.
Graham McTavish wishes that fan conventions like Supanova had been around when he was younger.
“Growing up as I did in the ‘60s and ‘70s, I could never meet any of the actors I enjoyed in TV shows like Starsky and Hutch and The Avengers. If I had been able to meet Diana Rigg or Paul Michael Glaser, my head would have exploded,” he laughs.
With roles in The Hobbit, Outlander, Preacher and Aquaman, McTavish has no shortage of fans and finds the convention circuit a refreshing experience.
“From an actor’s point of view, fan conventions give you a wonderful, honest reaction to your work. These are the people that love the stuff that you’re doing and will tell you why they like what you’re doing, or don’t like it.
“You never see unhappy people at conventions. They are places people go simply to enjoy themselves.”
McTavish is also Down Under shooting the fourth season of Preacher, in which he plays the unstoppable Saint of Killers.
“Preacher is a road story, and what they needed after two years in New Orleans was the kind of location Australia offers. And it makes financial sense to be filming in Australia, which is great for Australia and a lot of people. It’s a wonderful country to work in – the crew is just fantastic.”
As a longtime fan of the Preacher comic books created by writer Garth Ennis with artist Steve Dillon, McTavish was delighted by the opportunity to play one of his favourite characters.
“When I approached the role of the Saint, I felt a huge weight of responsibility to every fan of the comics, myself included. When I put that outfit on for the first time, I knew that I couldn’t screw it up,” he laughs. “The challenge for an actor in playing someone like the Saint is that it’s as much about what you do as what you don’t do. It’s a study in restraint and economy. He doesn’t move when he doesn’t have to, or speak when he doesn’t have to, but at the same time you don’t want to turn him into a machine. He’s not the Terminator. He actually has human emotions about why he’s doing what he’s doing, so you have to keep that in the back of your mind when playing him.”
This cowboy from hell has racked up a huge body count during his relentless pursuit of preacher Jesse Custer (Dominic Cooper) over the course of three seasons. “I think I’m up to a body count of at least 60 or 70,” he muses. “I used to joke that guest stars should leave their engines running when they come in, because I’d just shoot them almost immediately and they’d be free to leave.”
Of his recent role as King Atlan in Aquaman, McTavish says he found working in a green screen environment to be “a weird experience.”
“You have to create the world your character is inhabiting wholly through your imagination, which is an interesting process in itself.
“The scale of the production was reminiscent of when I worked on The Hobbit. My involvement was relatively small, but it’s like a juggernaut doing stuff like that. It’s a testimony to people like Jason [Momoa] who are able to navigate their way through it all and keep the character human and likeable in a filming environment that’s very disorientating.
“I really think Jason did an incredible job. I think it’s very easy to make those characters a little stiff and two-dimensional. But you could believe he could do all that stuff, and that’s not easy. Apart from all the physical work to get in shape, he really looks like a superhero, more so than others that do the same kind of stuff. He looks like the real thing, and that really helps people invest in it.”