Mystery man who's making all the right moves

With two major new roles, this is Matthew Goode's year. Charlotte Cripps meets him

The actor Matthew Goode, 34, who played Colin Firth's lover in A Single Man and Charles Ryder in the movie remake of Brideshead Revisted, often gets lost in the shuffle.

"I'm not so well known in the UK, as I started out my career in America," he says. But this is all about to change as he replaces his former co-star Firth to star alongside Nicole Kidman and Mia Wasikowska in the upcoming psychological horror film Stoker. He has also just finished filming Stephen Poliakoff's first ever TV series, Dancing on the Edge, due out later this year.

Goode is remarkably low key about his career. He was apparently up against all sorts of actors, including Michael Fassbender, for the role of the creepy uncle in Stoker, who gets caught in a bizarre love triangle with an unstable mother (Kidman) and her teenage daughter (Wasikowska).

"Colin's work schedule was too busy. He was very sweet about it and said, 'I wish I could be doing it myself, but I'm glad you are taking it on'," says Goode. "I was slightly terrified, as Nicole is a huge star. Not that I'd heard any horror stories. But she was absolutely lovely and hardworking."

In Poliakoff's five-part BBC2 series, about a 1930s black jazz band, Goode plays a working-class music journalist, Stanley Mitchell, who has been hired by a hotel to find a new music act. "It has been a non-stop siege of having to learn lines – a barrage against the senses. Stephen Poliakoff is a task master. The way the sentences are constructed is very period and you can't drop a word. It has taken four months to film five episodes."

Goode grew up in the village of Clyst St Mary, near Exeter. His childhood involved performing as a singing rodent in The Wind in the Willows at the private Exeter School. "I haven't been back home for about six years – isn't that awful? Apparently, my bedroom is like a shrine because my mother hasn't moved a thing. But I'm going back to pick up some toys for my daughter, Matilda, who is three years old."

Stoker is the English-language debut of South Korean director Chan-wook Park (the Vengeance trilogy) and was written by Prison Break actor Wentworth Miller, initially under the pseudonym Ted Foulke. Director Park, whose biggest fan is Quentin Tarantino and is known for his brutal subject matter, completed filming Stoker in Nashville, Tennessee, seven months ago. "Partly it was filmed there because that's where Nicole lives," says Goode. "I would jump at the chance of working with Chan-wook again. The directing was done through translators. At the beginning you think, 'Who should I be looking at? The director or the translator?' The level to attention to detail was incredible."

Goode played Scarlett Johansson's posh boyfriend in Woody Allen's Matchpoint in 2005, as well as an Irish hunk opposite Amy Adams in the romcom Leap Year in 2010. In 2009, he played the part of Adrain Veidt/ Ozymandias in the superhero film Watchmen and starred in Australian drama Burning Man last year, as an emotionally haunted English chef living in Bondi Beach.

He also had a supporting role in Birdsong, the two-part BBC adaptation of Sebastian Faulks's novel, playing Captain Gray.

These days, Goode is more philosophical about movies. "You never really know if a film is going to be a flop or not."

Matthew Goode is the Jameson Cult Film Club Ambassador. www.jamesoncultfilmclub.com

'Dancing on the Edge' and 'Stoker' are both out later this year

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