Gareth and me... | Mackenzie Crook on The Office

Gareth and me...

Mackenzie Crook on The Office

His star may be rising, but Mackenzie Crook is worried.

Not worried for his career, but worried because he's slowly realising that he has more in common with Gareth, The Office's serious, curtain-fringed, survival "expert" who has a knack of putting his foot in it.

"There are probably more resemblances than I'd like to admit," Mackenzie explains. "He's very pedantic. I don't think I'm pedantic in everyday life, but he loves trivia and facts, and that's what I'm into as well. And survival stuff; I'm quite into learning about that. I just have a tendency to get very nerdy about any hobbies I pick up.

"I'm into fish-keeping at the moment; I will bore people stupid with stuff about fish-keeping. Whereas Gareth obsesses about wars, survival and territorial army, I can be boring and nerdy, too."

Of course, the other more obvious similarity between Mackenzie and Gareth is that they look very similar . "Naturally I would wear my hair longer; I have done [so] for years until The Office.

"In fact, when I left school, I swore I would never get a job where I had to a suit or get my hair cut," Mackenzie laments. "And then, of course, this came along, and I had to do both. But I don't mind. I just managed to get it grown out from the first series, when the second series came along. I've been living with this haircut for a couple of years." He pauses, then frowns before confessing: "I had to get married with this haircut."

Mackenzie says he wasn't surprised with the acclaim the first series received. "I wasn't that surprised about how well it did. It sounds arrogant, but I did know ­ and sort of predicted ­ it would be a slow-burner."

"The Office has started a trend for this realistic style of filming, this documentary style," he says. "I think a lot of people are taking their cue from The Office."

Before joining this winning team, Mackenzie was fully involved with his stand-up characters, end-of-pier entertainer Charlie Cheese and teacher Mr Bagshaw (Edinburgh 2000 review).

But he only really saw stand-up as a way of breaking into acting because he "didn't really want to go to drama school".

"By the time I'd decided I wanted to be an actor," Mackenzie explains, "I couldn't really face the idea of going to drama school for four years, so I tried to get through the back door via comedy."

It was a successful move, but mainly because he chose to do character-based stand-up. He says: "It's good to perform as a character; I do tend to play assholes, lowlifes or losers. I would have nothing to say as myself; I like to be disguised as much as possible."

Mackenzie has now broken into feature films, appearing in British movie Still Crazy (as 'Dutch Kid") and has now completed his first Hollywood picture called The Gathering, starring Christina Ricci and Ioan Gryffd, released in the UK this October.

Last month, he joined Johnny Depp and Kate Winslet on the set of Neverland, to film the biopic of Peter Pan author, JM Barrie.

But for now, it's the second series of The Office that has Mackenzie's undivided attention.

"We all had this big feeling this time round knowing we were working on something really special," he says. "Although we had that feeling the first time round, nobody quite knew how it would be received, but this time round everyone was aware that it was groundbreaking stuff to be involved in. It's been really fun.

First published: September 12, 2002

Published: 22 Mar 2009

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