Whatever happened to the History Boys?
Saturday, 12 January 2008
Four years ago, they were a bunch of unknowns. Then a new Alan Bennett play set them on the path to fame and fortune. How have they fared since? Alice Jones tracks them down…
It all began in April 2004 in a draughty rehearsal studio in the National Theatre when Nicholas Hytner's cast – Richard Griffiths, Clive Merrison, Stephen Campbell Moore, Frances de la Tour and a ragtag band of young unknowns – met Alan Bennett for the first time. The rest, as they say, is history.
Russell Tovey (Rudge)
Tovey made his stage debut aged 18 in The Recruiting Officer at Chichester. There he met Patrick Marber, who put him forward for a role in Howard Katz at the National a year later. He spent two years there and appeared as the lead in Rufus Norris' sell-out Tintin at the Barbican. Next week he opens in Jonathan Kent's production of The Sea in the West End, and he also appears in the Life on Mars spin-off Ashes to Ashes, and a new BBC3 comedy, Being Human, later this year.
"Jonathan Kent saw The History Boys when he was directing Faith Healer, which was on Broadway in the theatre behind us. There was a pub, the Angus McIndoe, where we all went every night after the show and I met him there. When The Sea came about, he offered me the part. I didn't have to audition.
"I remember we all hit a low when we first got to New York because we'd all been away for six months – and then we won six Tonys.
Suddenly it was this huge phenomenon and everywhere you went, everyone knew who you were and you got drinks bought for you. It was out of this world. You take it for granted when you're there and we were all whingeing before we went. We were so spoilt with the show. It might never happen again in my life."