Art Malik: Actors must leave their egos at stage door

The performer Art Malik on his new project at Theatre Royal Stratford East, action movies and Harvey Weinstein

Art Malik
Art Malik
© Matt Austin

Art Malik has starred on stage and screen in a career that has spanned over forty years. In the '80s he appeared in the TV series The Jewel in the Crown and since then has taken roles in films including Bond movie The Living Daylights, True Lies opposite Arnold Schwarzenegger and TV series including Upstairs Downstairs, Borgia and Homeland. He's returning to the stage this month to star in Nadia Fall's production of Lope de Vega's The Village, which is the first production in Fall's inaugural season as artistic director.

The Village is adapted by April De Angelis and set in a modern-day village in India. It's there that an inspector, who I play, is able to terrorise the village and get away with it. He has no empathy for the 16 year-old young woman Jyoti or anybody else around him.

It's time to call out the embarrassing bunch of men that we have leading this planet. That's what theatre can do. The Village is addressing the iniquitous thinking of today. The inspector has the DNA of Trump, Harvey Weinstein and the lack of morals of the likes of Jimmy Savile.

It's very nice to be on the same stage that Joan Littlewood was on. We did Oh! What a Lovely War in drama school in the '70s. Theatre Royal Stratford East is also an exciting place to be at the moment. There's a lot of buzz around Nadia Fall and there's an energy around the theatre.

I haven't been on stage since 2011. My daughter and I commissioned a piece called Rose and took it up to Edinburgh, which was a lot of fun. One daughter produced it and one performed in it. Coming back to the stage has been easy. There's something immediate about screen work, but here it's completely different. People always ask which I prefer, but I don't have a preference.

Starring in The Woman in White was interesting because I don't often get asked to star in a Dickensian or Victorian world. But we are starting to tell stories, tell the history of this country, with the people who live in it now.

After True Lies I decided to take some time off from action movies. I'm not saying I wouldn't want to do them again. But they are what I call the melodramas, the pantomimes, of storytelling. In something like a Bond movie, all the toys are brought out and you are mainly sitting back and watching some fabulous stunt men do all the work for you.

You need to leave your ego at the door, as an actor. My mantra has always been I am employed between two words: action and cut. Once they shout cut I sit down and shut the f*ck up. Star is rats spelt backwards, after all.