Rare is the actor — even the plague-ridden one — who regards having a week off as “lucky.” But then McShane has been enjoying his own professional Indian summer over the last half decade or so. McShane can claim one of thespian-land’s more colorful and varied careers, one that has wandered between movies (1971′s Richard Burton-starring Villain, 2000′s fabulous Sexy Beast), television (Dallas, the BBC show Lovejoy) and stage (the 2007 Broadway revival of Harold Pinter’s The Homecoming). But it was his unforgettable performance as the foul-mouthed Al Swearengen in HBO’s late, lamented Deadwood that made Hollywood bigwigs sit up, pay attention, and, somewhat oddly, decide to cast him in pretty much every family-friendly project around. Indeed, these days McShane is very much the belle of the blockbuster ball. He voiced the villanous Tai Lung in 2008′s Kung Fu Panda, recently finished filming Bryan Singer’s Jack the Giant Killer, and is currently playing a dwarf inSnow White and the Huntsman (That’s the one with Kristen Stewart). He also, of course, essayed the role of Blackbeard in this year’s Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides,which is released on DVD and Blu-ray tomorrow.
Below, McShane talks about Pirates, Deadwood, and the awesomeness of Frank Zappa.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: When I spoke to Johnny Depp earlier this year he said that, while making On Stranger Tides, the pair of you bonded over a shared love of Captain Beefheart.
IAN McSHANE: Yeah. Johnny’s got quite quirky, eclectic musical tastes and so do I. I’m a huge fan of [Frank] Zappa and Beefheart. Johnny’s very versed in that time. We were talking about a very brilliant but erratic American actor called Timothy Carey. He was in Stanley Kubrick’s The Killing but he was clearly off his trolley. And he made this film, The World’s Greatest Sinner. I’d never seen it. Johnny said,”I’ve got to get you this movie.” And he sent it to me. It’s a wacko film. And who did the music for it? Frank Zappa. I just started his biography again, Zappa. I was reading it and it was one of those funny things that came out of nowhere. He wrote the music for The World’s Greatest Sinner.
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