January 22, 1995

Richard Johnson

Perfection has one grave defect – it is bound to be dull. For that reason, the actor Mark Frankel, star of the 1993 comedy film Leon The Pig Farmer, always makes it his business to point out his two facial scars and his broken nose. “And have you noticed my eyes? One’s black and one’s brown. Prettiness counts against you if you want to be taken seriously,” he says. Frankel has enjoyed a rapid rise to success after he was discovered by a casting director who saw him performing for friends above a London pub. “One minute I was cycling to the theatre and playing to 40 people; the next I was flying to Italy to film the mini-series Michelangelo,” he recalls. “It was all stretch-limos and envelopes filled with money. Drama school equips you to work above the Finborough Arms, not for all that.” But he seems to be adjusting well. This month he stars in the ITV trilogy Rik Mayall Presents, and co-stars with Amanda pays in the new Solitaire For Two. He is already famous enough to demand his own make-up artist. “Sometimes I like to be shiny,” he explains. “I know everyone wants to powder you down and make you look matte, but I want to look like a real person. I might actually be sweating a bit. I don’t want to have to say to someone: ‘Get your hands off me.’ My make-up artist understands that. It’s the plus side to fame.”