Belfast Telegraph

John Simm's shocking stage fright

John Simm has confessed his stage fright was so bad when he starred in Hamlet, he feared he was going to have a heart attack.

The Life On Mars star played the Danish prince in Shakespeare's tragedy at Sheffield's Crucible Theatre last year, attracting the likes of Sir Ian McKellen and Frances Barber to the opening night.

John said: "I wasn't going to turn down Hamlet at 40 years old. There's that thing where you think, 'I've done that, I can do anything' which is a bit dangerous.

He went on: "So I've chosen to look at it another way: I've done that, so surely nothing else can be as hard as that.

"It's affirmed my love of acting in a way and I'd love to do more Shakespeare, but not yet. The pressure backstage on the press night was ridiculous. I just thought, 'I'm going to have a heart attack'.

"And then you go out and say, 'To be or not to be' and look into Ian McKellen's eyes and the whole world stops."

John revealed the stage production was so taxing he vowed not to do anything else afterwards, but then he found his role in new BBC One psychological drama Exile too good to turn down.

He said: "I'd just finished Hamlet, which had slayed me physically and mentally and I was absolutely adamant I wasn't going to do anything else.

"Then this arrived and it was so good, I'd have been an idiot to say no because someone else would have done it and I'd have spent a long time regretting it."

:: Exile is a three-part drama beginning on Sunday, May 1 on BBC One.

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