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Same face, new role for Macintosh
Same face, new role for Macintosh

Steven Mackintosh was described by one London journalist as the most ordinary actor he had ever seen and most viewers would not instantly recognise his name.

But they would know his face because Mackintosh is one of those talented British actors who form the backbone of much of the drama that country turns out.

He was Luther's loyal friend DCI Ian Reed in the first series of that crime series, and has had roles in The Jury, The Other Boleyn Girl, Guy Ritchie's Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and the Underworld vampire franchise.

Now he plays the lead in UKTV's new four-part crime drama Inside Men. The description of Mackintosh as an "ordinary" actor was intended as a compliment and that is how he took it.

"Obviously, there are two ways that you could take that comment," he said. "You could take it as being that he is completely forgettable or you could say he has a kind of an everyman quality, which I think is a compliment. I am able to adapt and blend and take on any character."

Inside Men is an intense drama about three workers at a cash counting house in Bristol.

Mackintosh is facility manager John Coniston, Ashley Walters plays security guard Chris Lebdon and Warren Brown is Marcus Riley.

The series starts with a particularly brutal robbery at the facility, with John's wife taken hostage by the robbers and one person shot during the raid.

But then it is quickly revealed that the three men had planned to steal the cash and the questions are whether they actually staged the robbery and what led them to take that step.

As manager, John is efficient but colourless and so averse to confrontation that when the daily total comes up £200 ($310) short he uses his own money to make up the loss.

Macintosh says that in many ways John is an invisible person at the start of the story.

He has spent his whole life being responsible and ordinary, always doing the right thing and feeling no one thanks him for it.

"He feels he has taken all the responsibility in his job, made sure the numbers balance, tried to be fair to everyone at work and yet somehow there is a sense that he is a whispered joke behind his back," Mackintosh said. "I think that sense of the ordinary is vital to the story, particularly knowing where it goes.

"It is a fantastic contrast to see how far he goes and how amoral he becomes. He has unleashed a monster inside of himself and that is kind of interesting."

Macintosh's latest film, The Sweeney, has just been released in the UK. He plays an internal affairs officer in the flashback to the well-remembered 1970s Flying Squad TV series.

His role is to bring down Ray Winstone's Det-Insp. Jack Regan.

He is also working on a short film for Sky that has been written and will be directed by Luther star Idris Elba.