Richard Harris's Son Jared On Mad Men, Horror Thriller 'The Ward' And His Famous Father's Name
"My father was a great lead actor, and a larger-than-life character away from the screen. Those same projects, and with it that kind of adulation, hasn't come my way. But I'm not complaining."
Actor Jared Harris is the first to appreciate that his not insignificant level of success on both TV and the big screen are dwarfed in most people's minds by the great talent of his father Richard, who died in 2002. Richard Harris enjoyed triumph both on the stage in Camelot, and on film, where his screen-stealing turn as the original Dumbledore in the Harry Potter films belied his longtime acting credentials, including an Oscar nomination for his work in The Field in 1990. Jared is both clearly proud, and aware of the double-edged sword such a celebrated name gives him.
"It does keep it challenging," he reflects, perfectly amicably. "Probably more so in the UK than the US, because he was famous there for so much longer. When I go for a role, everyone knows the name and there's a lot of respect for it, but then I have to work twice as hard to prove my own abilities. But, as I say, I'm certainly not complaining."
And there is no need to complain. In a career of more than 20 years, Harris has made his own presence felt in a catalogue of character roles, from the obnoxious Mac McGrath in the Adam Sandler film Mr. Deeds to the role of Lane Pryce on Mad Men. His latest project is, in his own words, a "genre piece", The Ward - a psychological thriller where the same pale, piercing eyes that made his father so distinctive lend themselves naturally to the role of enigmatic Doctor Stringer in this distinctly creepy piece.
"It was something I hadn't done before," explains Harris of the appeal. "And the director John Carpenter (the Halloween franchise, Eyes of Laura Mars) was a legend in creating this type of horror thriller, so I was very happy to give it a go."
Was it as disturbing to film as it now appears on screen? "You never know how it's going to appear," muses Harris. "I had no idea the music was going to have such an effect on me, when I watched it. I was disturbed myself, it was as though I'd forgotten I was in it."
If Harris still feels he has to prove himself independently of his famous father, he's already done plenty, including a successful stint on the iconic Mad Men. How was that?
"Initially, joining such an established group of actors, all knowing each other and their parts so well, was completely intimidating at first, but they made me very welcome. And it was absolutely fantastic working with such a strong script, it's what every actor dreams of."
The Ward is now available on DVD. You can watch the trailer below...