Michael Kitchen is riding a lovely crest and promising parts lie ahead. He is in demand because he's good and because of his chameleon quality of fitting absolutely into his set environment. As a result he seems totally vulnerable on stage and on television, completely open, and few people who saw him as Branwell Bronte in the Bronte series on television will ever forget that brilliant, moving performance. That's where I first saw him and was convinced of his acting powers. He talks about acting with conviction and clarity, has got the whole thing in perspective and, for all the performances which have given him such a reputation, the moment he most enjoyed and relished was when he composed a piece of classical music for the guitar and played it. He works hard, does research into the background of his role so that anything he omits from his edged, fine performance is deliberate. "I can feel myself moving," he says, "and I'm enormously pleased that I have moved in a good way, that I struck a vein of parts that I was pleased to get."
When he joined the National Theatre he was absolutely firm about how he wanted to do it. "I just didn't want to go in anonymously. It's too easy to get lost," and so he came in, read and took the very difficult part of Stiefel in Spring Awakening, which he then gently moulded into something to remember. "The whole point about acting is that there are moments of something marvellous happening, but these are few and far between. One of the main things to remember about acting is that you need help. There must be another person to send back what you're sending out. It helps to have a good director, of course, and ultimately you're out on the stage alone, but you have to have someone out there with you giving you something. I'm at my best only when someone is helping me. I find it impossible to act on my own. No, not impossible but infinitely more difficult...you have to make some sort of arrangement with yourself if you're on your own. I can't believe I'll act until I fall into the grave. But I am an actor. It took me two and a half years after RADA to realise this. But when people pay you to act, then you know you're an actor."
(Photograph by Snowdon)