Press Archive 2017

Matthew Goode lords it up as Snowdon in The Crown

The Times November 25th 2017 – Andrew Billen

The outspoken actor is going up in the world — from Downton Abbey to playing Princess Margaret’s husband. Andrew Billen meets him.

When I interviewed Lord Snowdon 11 years ago for this paper he was much offended by our photographer’s assistant wearing a cap inside his house. It was evidently a breach of etiquette and, I am pretty sure, of the respect he felt due one of Britain’s leading photographers — and a former husband of Princess Margaret. The encounter ended with a ticking-off and Snowdon sneeringly hanging his cap up for him.

Now I am sitting in a London hotel room in front of the actor playing Snowdon in season two of Netflix’s The Crown. And Matthew Goode is wearing a hat, probably the one he has in ITV’s The Wine Show, the programme in which he and his mate Matthew Rhys josh and gush over vintages brought to them in a “hilltop Italian villa” — a for-real version of Brydon and Coogan’s The Trip. The bibulous old rogue Snowdon would have appreciated the wine and the banter, but what would he have said about his future impersonator’s ever-on hat?

“He was a nightmare,” says Goode, who admits to rather liking Snowdon. “I spoke to one of the guys who used to help him when he was a photographer, and he said, ‘I can’t use the expletive, but it describes an area of a woman’s body — that’s who he was.’ It was so annoying. He could be charming and brilliant, then in two seconds’ time behave like the most disgusting person in the entire world.”

Snowdon was 76 when I met him and although he had been divorced from Margaret for nearly 30 years, he still behaved like minor royalty. His servants, I noted, called him m’lud. In the period depicted in The Crown, however, Snowdon was New Britain on the march, storming the palace gates to modernise the monarchy. That early model, the pre-peerage Tony Armstrong-Jones, might even have admired Goode’s hat.

Having once compared Margaret to a Jewish manicurist (he was part Jewish himself), he would certainly have enjoyed Goode’s outspokenness, a trait that has got the actor into trouble in interviews before — which may be why his publicist is sitting behind me. She keeps her counsel, however, probably having already realised that Goode’s chance of appearing in the next honours list is about as likely as The Crown ushering in a republic.

A file of background notes passed on by The Crown’s producers persuaded Goode that Snowdon’s faults were sourced in an unhappy childhood. His mother, Anne Messel, showed him little affection, referring to him as her “ugly son”, doling out her love instead to the two boys from her second, longer-lasting marriage to an earl. He was sent to boarding school at eight and at 16, while at Eton, contracted polio (there is a touching moment in The Crown when he hides his stick when Margaret turns up at his studio). Anne, rather than nurse him at home, packed him off to Liverpool Royal Infirmary, but she never visited him.

“Exactly what that kind of damage does to a child I have no idea, but emotionally and psychologically, quite a lot, I would imagine,” says Goode. “I think it’s why he married Princess Margaret. I think he did it to please his mother rather than himself.”

Demonstrating that he was good enough to marry into royalty? “It’s far more complicated than that, I’m sure, but it’s one of the solutions.”

The Snowdons were soon into an 18-year marriage notable for its private rowing and public putdowns. Yet, says Goode, the royal family loved their new recruit and always blamed Margaret for any trouble. “He was terribly funny as well. So with this incredibly acerbic, nasty, vitriolic, spiteful side comes this flamboyant, wonderfully debonair, extremely funny, witty man.”

The pair, he summarises, were “very charismatic, very smart and vile”, but what we can be sure of was that the sex between them was spectacularly good — although not good enough to dissuade their lusty libidos from straying beyond marriage. Soon both were having affairs. Within weeks of the marriage, another woman, Camilla Fry, had given birth to Snowdon’s illegitimate daughter, sired, the show suggests, during a three-in-a-bed encounter with her and her bisexual husband, Jeremy.

“When I first met Noo,” Goode says, referring to Vanessa Kirby, who plays Margaret, by her nickname, “I was quite terrified because I was a fan of the first series. I was a little star-struck, I suppose, and I thought it might make for uncomfortable love scenes, but we ended up just finding it hilarious. It was a really good giggle. She’s brilliant. She’s really dynamic as an actress and really fun to work with because she’ll bat it back. She listens, really listens, and responds.”

Perhaps it is because of their rapport that they manage to convey how alike the princess and her parvenu husband were. They were control freaks (that cap business) and poisonous to those who would not be controlled. They were rebels, but also lovers of status. As Goode points out, Armstrong-Jones may have been the first commoner in 40 years to marry the daughter of a monarch, but he was also dead posh. In fact, Goode’s dialect coach encouraged him to “dial back” the vowels, lest people found them confusing.

Since his breakthrough role as wealthy Tom in Woody Allen’s Match Point in 2005, and certainly after his Charles Ryder in Brideshead Revisited three years later, Goode has played mainly posh boys. He was brought up in Devon the son of a geologist and his wife, a nurse, but did go to a private day school. Yet Goode is not quite acting aristocracy and since this cannot be because of his talent, or his looks — dark hair, blue eyes, 6ft 2in — this may be something to do with his habit of speaking his mind. In an interview in 2010 he complained about being left with “nowhere to go” by the director of Brideshead. When Tom Ford’s excellent A Single Man came out, he criticised the Weinsteins for featuring Julianne Moore rather than him with Colin Firth in the advertising, thus downplaying the central gay relationship. In 2013 he said he had been working “a lot of scale”, meaning the minimum rate.

Then, on This Morning last year, he said he did not think the modern Bond films were working as well as the old ones. The papers, which had tipped him as Daniel Craig’s successor, declared he had blown his chances.

“I’m way over the hill, darling, what are you talking about?” he responds, although he is 39 and only a few years older than Craig when he started. “I didn’t mean it in a bad way.” What he meant was that there could be two Bond franchises, one contemporary Bond and another set in the Sixties. “It’s just an idea. But apparently you can’t have an opinion.”

Recent years have been kinder to him professionally. In 2014 he joined Downton Abbey as Henry Talbot, the racing diver who sped off with Lady Mary. Around the same time he won a regular gig on The Good Wife in America. The Wine Show is about to return to ITV, with Goode joined by a new drinking buddy, James Purefoy. There are, of course, still disappointments. Cast as a morphine-addicted ex-public schoolboy in Agatha Christie’s Ordeal by Innocence, Goode now finds that the three-parter has been pulled from the BBC’s Christmas schedules after sexual allegations against his co-star Ed Westwick (who robustly denies them).

Goode says there are two ways of looking at it. The first is that the BBC has spared the cast some awkward interview questions. “But some would also say that they should have stood by Ed. Possibly. I mean, I don’t know. I’m not the controller of the BBC.”

So, is he in favour of the postponement? “I’m not really in favour of anything because I don’t have to make that decision. I believe you’re innocent until proven guilty.”

But has the BBC prejudged the matter by pulling the show? “No, not now, because there are three allegations now.”

Goode has lived with the mother of his three children, Sophie Dymoke, for 12 years. When she became pregnant with their first daughter, she gave up her life in the fashion industry in New York. He was thrilled to be able to return with her to film The Good Wife, but by then her heart was no longer in her career. Is he guilty about that?

“Of course I am. Of course I am. She has to put up with living with some f***wit who doesn’t really live in reality occasionally and has some slight psychological problems occasionally through work. She’s retrained as an interior designer and she’s so talented at it.”

What psychological problems? “Well, this [show] is part of it. If you tie all of your hopes to the net product of your work, then you’re going to get depressed because sometimes you feel like you’re working really well and then you watch it and you go, ‘I am terrible.’ I don’t watch my stuff any more.”

I assure him he is excellent in The Crown, but it was a one-off gig. Series three will be recast with older actors (he thinks Paul Bettany would be a good choice). “Peter Morgan [the writer] said, ‘I’ve just written the most fantastic argument for Tony and Margaret in series three.’ I was, like, ‘Oh good. What a thrill for the next guy.’ ”

He got the part days after Lord Snowdon died in January this year, 15 years after Margaret. His death avoids any unpleasant collisions in restaurants and Goode hopes that none of his children will want to spit in his face. He reports that Matt Smith was introduced to Prince William at a function before the first series was shown. The prince said he had heard he was playing his grandfather, Prince Philip. “And Matt was, like, ‘Yeah, yeah, anything to say about that?’ And William just said, ‘LEGEND.’ ”

“I think as we come towards where we are now, it will be slightly uneasy and slightly problematic. I think it could open up a few wounds that people are still a little bit grieving over and feeling complicated about. Poor old Charles is probably going to get it in the neck. Maybe it’s a good thing that I’m out of there already.”

In one way, however, Lord Snowdon did members of the royal family a favour. The show’s slogan is that “the crown always wins”. In the Snowdon case, monarchic tradition was unable to prevent Margaret and her husband from divorcing and pursuing happiness with others. Perhaps without their example, Charles, Anne and Andrew might still be all miserably married. The Snowdons were trailblazers!

“Were they the first? They were. Yes, they were! So, the trailblazers. Trailblazers is a word that suits them extremely well,” Goode says enthusiastically.

And for that, let us all take off our caps to Lord Snowdon.
The Crown series two is available on Netflix from December 8

Entertainment Weekly  Deborah Harkness on her upcoming A Discovery of Witches adaptation: ‘I walked onto the set and I cried’  MAUREEN LEE LENKER AUGUST 22, 2017

[Extract] Was Matthew Goode someone you ever thought of when you writing? Were you a fan of his from his previous work?
I am a huge fan of his because I am really struck, when I look at his body of work, by the extraordinary range of roles he’s played, both on television and on film. That takes a certain kind of courage and integrity as an actor to be able to do that. Of course when I started writing it was 2008, so Matthew Goode was quite a bit younger than he is now. The reality is, decades can pass between a book being written and it being made into a television show or a film. I had very clear visions of them in my mind, but I really resisted the casting urge. And then come to the moment, Matthew Goode is the perfect age to play this character, he is so perfect in every way — hearing him say the lines, watching him act with Teresa, the layers of meaning he brings to it; it’s astonishing. When we got to the moment when we were casting, I said, “What about Matthew Goode?” I will take credit for saying, “He would be perfect, he is my Matthew, he would be great.” For him to be available, for him to be willing to take on the role, all of those things, it was almost too good to be true and you sort of have to pinch yourself.
Yeah, I mean he has an appreciation of wine just like the character as evidenced by his television series with Matthew Rhys.
I know — it’s uncanny, is what it is. Again, it’s like having Bad Wolf make a book by Harkness into a show. He is absolutely perfect for it in every respect. And he’s a damn good actor. I mean really, he is a damn good actor. And what I always say to my readers, they say, who do you want to play the role? And I say, “a good actor” and I got it in spades with Matthew Goode.
With both him and Teresa, what most excites you about them? And what clinched it for you with the two of them?
Well, with Matthew it really was a combination of knowing his work, knowing the range of his work, the complexity of characters he brought to the screen. Obviously, physically he’s very like the character. And again just being able to really envision him inhabiting that role, that was the clincher. Teresa, similarly, I had seen in her Hacksaw Ridge, and I had been really struck by her performance. I was shocked that she was Australian because she was such a convincing American. Obviously that was a period piece, so seeing pictures of her today in a contemporary sort of setting, I was just so struck by her warmth and her intelligence and her vivacity. I could just immediately see her as Diana. She has this amazing range and this quiet authority in the way that she performs. And she just lives inside her characters and quite difficult moments and quite intense moments. Then I saw a chemistry reel — it was just breathtaking to see them acting a very, very small scene with no props, nothing around them, just the strength of their own acting abilities. I was absolutely clear they were the right pair to play Matthew and Diana.

Style Magazine Italia January 2017

Translation provided by @di-elle/


Matthew Goode is one of the most recognizable British actors of his generation. 38 years old, tall, slender, handsome, with a face composed of classic proportions and precise features that lends itself to both modern settings and period dramas.

A look that’s allowed him to dive immediately into the world of Match Point, Brideshead Revisited, The Imitation Game, and A Single Man. In the last season of Downton Abbey, he was one of the most beloved characters as Lady Mary’s husband, a role that brought him popularity with the television audience. Now he appears with Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard in Allied.

Skill,talent, determination and a bit of luck (essential in this business) have made Goode a sought-after and versatile actor, without affecting his overwhelming pleasantness and playfulness onset and off that serve as useful talents as well.

In the penthouse of the London hotel where he is being photographed, he strokes the oval marble bathtub sitting in the middle of the room (‘So cool!’), gets enthusiastic by touching the clothes, the collars of the shirts, and the wool of the jackets.

Do you like design?

I love it, even if it is my wife who has the eye for it.

In front of the mirror, in the barber’s and makeup artist’s hands, he is a bundle of energy.  He is worried about Brexit (‘What’s happened? Where are we going?’) but happy to be able to buy a house. He is a little anxious, too, about the last phone call from his bank: ‘Being an actor means  living day by day. Banks don’t like it.’

Psychologically what does it entail?

During dry spells you can lose confidence and believe that you will never work again. It’s not easy.

However you are not lacking jobs. How  was working  on Allied?

Movies are strange beasts. You come, you spend two days on the set, you shoot your own scenes and you go. Despite this it was electrifying as it can be a film of these proportions. There was an atmosphere of great professionalism and harmony. Brad Pitt is a great person. He welcomed me fondly, as did Marion Cotillard. I had already met them both, but they are always like that, even with those they don’t know.

Is variety important to you?

It’s the essence of life, isn’t it? At the end  the face and the voice are always those and if you specialize in a genre, it’s not easy to come out of it. It’s hard for me to resist period movies, it’s a great temptation. Costumes and interiors have a very strong charm.

Your name was made for the Bond role…

I’ve sabotaged myself. Barbara Broccoli  (the film producer) called me and I didn’t realize it was an audition. I thought it was just a chat. She asked me what I thought of Bond. I was honest , I told her that the way it is today doesn’t work. They need to scale down the budget, and make the character more complicated, go back to the origin from the books: a dark, difficult, incomprehensible man. At the end she said goodbye and I didn’t hear from her again. Maybe sometimes it’s better to keep your mouth shut.

Do you like going to movies?

There’s a little bit of jealousy to overcome but generally yes. I’d like to see Tom Ford’s new movie, Nocturnal Animals. He is a genius, he has an eye like no other. A Single Man should have won more awards. Ford was born as a stylist but he is a real artist.

Are you not tempted to move to the USA?

I have three children and I want them to grow up here. I don’t like to go too far away. I told my agent I don’t want to work in the US for a year.

Is Matthew Goode a good father?

It depends on the days. The noise stresses me. If there are two children crying, or screaming, I panic. In those cases, my wife takes care of it.

What do you do at home?

I cook. It’s less tiring than playing with a one-year-old child… I can do a little of everything: my father taught me the first recipes when I was about to start university. Over the years I have made a leap in quality, from scrambled eggs to stews.

Your best recipe?

Beef and Guinness stew. Two or three parsnips, a couple of carrots, two onions, some mushrooms. Two pounds of meat, a little flour. Mix it up, then slap it in the pot. Salt, pepper, some herbs and some beer. I love it. You put it on, you go get the kids from school, and when you come back, the house smells of dinner.

The role you’ve always wanted.

Sherlock Holmes. Damn it, Benedict Cumberbatch has stolen it from me! Joking aside, it’s Jeffrey Bernard in the comedy Jeffrey Bernard is Unwell, by Keith Waterhouse. Many years ago I saw Peter O’Toole in it and I’ve never forgotten. But you need to be 50 or 60 years old for it, so I’ll have to wait a little longer.

Did you want to be an actor as a child?

My mother would say yes. Actually I discovered my path later in life. For a while I wanted to be an archaeologist, because my father was a geologist. One day one of my university mates went to audition for an acting school and I said: Why not, I should try it too. Finding an agent was a stroke of luck. Then the fight for survival began. It’s a slow and complicated road.

From the outside you look like someone who made it.

(It may look that way) now, but like with everything when you start you are at the first step, you look up and say: I’ll never get there.

What’s your secret to overcome difficult moments?

I have stopped watching the films I make. This has helped me a lot. You can’t control how they cut and edit your character. You can only control the experience, what you give and what gives to you. The result is almost insignificant. After a few years it can be fun watching yourself because you seem very young.

Do you practice sport a lot?

I go to the gym in the morning, to start the day well. Twice a week I go out for lunch with my wife: and since I like to eat, and occasionally even drink, the gym is imperative. I also play golf but it takes time, it’s not an activity that fits well with a big family.

Your ideal holiday?

I have fond memories of my childhood, camping with my father, the fishing rod, the green. I’d like to take my children. My wife resists for now.

What do you read?

I hate to admit it, but I read very little. By the time I go to bed, I’m too tired.

A luxury?

We’re planning how to sort out the house. If I could afford it I’d buy one of those enormous american washing machines with a tumble dryer.  It’s not what you’d expect from a star, is it?