‘Brexit was complete insanity’: Daniel Mays says Britain’s cultural diversity makes him feel ‘European’

‘I never got the whole notion of ‘I want my country back’,’ actor said

Inga Parkel
Friday 02 December 2022 17:22 GMT
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Daniel Mays on The Interrogation of Tony Martin

Daniel Mays has expressed his views on the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union, calling the controversial 2020 decision “complete insanity”.

The British actor, 44, stars in Apple TV’s forthcoming untitled Benjamin Franklin series, which will explore the thrilling history of America’s fight for democracy.

In the show, that sees Michael Douglas lead as Franklin, Mays portrays one of his closest confidants, Edward Bancroft, who served as a double agent for the British.

Speaking to The Independent in a new interview, Mays explained how he, an Essex native, was able to “get his head around” the American Revolutionary War in preparation for the role.

“It’s like Brexit,” he said while describing the 18th-century revolution. “It completely and utterly polarised families, whole communities. Of course, they needed their independence, they wanted to do their own thing. So it’s really fascinating.”

Since Bancroft worked as secretary to the American Commission in Paris, Mays has spent much of his time filming in France.

This experience has provided Mays with first-hand experience of the restrictions that the UK’s departure from the EU has brought, particularly with the “rigmarole” of travelling.

Daniel Mays

“The way that technology and transport systems work now… as a species, we’re sort of ever-evolving,” he said. “And Brexit to me always represented pulling up the drawbridge. It didn’t make any sense.”

In fact, it was Mays’s childhood spent at Rada that he says offered him an appreciation for Britain’s cultural diversity.

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“There was a whole mix of people from America, from India, from Australia… I was a kid from Essex, up there in London as a youngster, exploring and involving myself with so many different people from different countries and walks of life,” he said.

“My brain just exploded with it all. My whole experience was expanding beyond belief. So I always sort of considered myself to be a European. I never got the whole notion of ‘I want my country back’. To me, it was complete insanity.”

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