Jared Harris: The British actor on avoiding ex-pats in LA, dabbling in the paranormal, and Christmas parties with the Mad Men cast


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The Quiet Ones follows a maverick professor in his attempts to invoke paranormal activity. Is it true that it's based on a true story?

It's inspired by true events. There was a real experiment by a Canadian professor back in the Seventies where he attempted to reproduce paranormal events from human agency. And he was successful. Nobody died, nothing burnt down. And, in fact, you can see it on YouTube.

Do you believe in the supernatural?

I haven't experienced it, but I know plenty of people who have who I trust.

So you're not a complete sceptic?

What I am sceptical about is the conclusions that people draw. I find it easier to believe that if people have paranormal experiences, that they are connected to the human psyche, rather than validating the existence of the afterlife, God or some kind of eternal battle between good and evil and all that kind of stuff.

You played Moriarty in the Sherlock film. He's hell-bent on chaos. What is it about unpredictability that makes it such a terrifying trait?

I think in recent times, it reflects our experience of terrorism. When you're dealing with random acts of violence, we don't know what these people want or why they're doing it, so we don't know how to make it stop. It's scarier.

Benedict Cumberbatch is obviously doing exceptionally well off the back of his Sherlock. Do you ever bump into him out in LA?

Yeah, I bump into him here and there. He's a busy boy. It's a fantastic time for him, having all that momentum behind him, exceptional possibilities, it's exciting.

How about other British ex-pats in LA? Is there a scene?

When I first went out there, I made a decision not to make that mistake about living in another country, but closeting myself by only hanging out with my own countrymen. But yeah, I know a bunch of people out there, some who are well-known, some who aren't. But we don't get together and talk about the business, because that's fucking boring.

Or the Queen? Do you get together and talk about her?

Exactly. Oh darling, have you been invited to the latest garden party?

Could you have broken the family mould, or was a career in acting preordained?

Far from it. It took dad by surprise when I expressed an interest. I went to Duke University and fell into it by accident and really enjoyed it.

Did you carry on watching Mad Men after you left the series?

Yes I did, absolutely. And I go to their Christmas parties. I had a fantastic experience working with them all. When I see any of them, it's like running into someone you've been in the trenches with and I always give them a big hug.

I found a Mad Men promotional quiz. One of the questions was: when do you have your first drink of the day?

I find that if I have a drink in the afternoon, I fall asleep. So I tend not to have a tipple until after 6 or 7 o'clock. Unless I'm on holiday, and then you can have an afternoon drink and fall asleep under the sun somewhere. I find that once you start drinking, you have to carry on. I took a 'How Well Do You Know Mad Men?' test recently by the way and I failed it!


Jared Harris, aged 52, is best known for his role as Lane Pryce in the hit TV series ‘Mad Men’. He is the son of actor Richard Harris, and his step-father was Rex Harrison. His latest film, ‘The Quiet Ones’ is released on Friday