The actor Harry Hadden-Paton is probably Britain’s favourite aristocrat thanks to his role as 7th Marquess of Hexham in the television posh soap opera Downton Abbey. He is fashionably bearded and enjoying a rare summer break between filming, which conveniently coincides with the birth of his second daughter. Before Downton Hadden-Paton had largely concentrated on theatre, he auditioned for a tiny part in Downton series two and five years later was called up for the role of the Marquess, suitor of Lady Edith. He says the Downton machine is thoroughly efficient and the attention to the accuracy of historical details of etiquette, dress and décor is now the benchmark for period dramas. Apparently viewers wrote in with minutial critiques on everything from posture to furnishings.
Since Downton Hadden-Paton has been busy, he has just stepped off the set of the second series of Versailles, the quasi-factual BBC spectacle of Louis XIV, the C17th Sun King of France, who established France as the leading power in Europe and consolidated absolute monarchical rule which eventually led the French revolution. On getting into character Hadden-Paton says as soon as he puts on the shoes (“the heels were very informing”), frock-coat and wig he morphed into the fictitious French nobleman, much as he did wearing the brogues and tweeds of Bertie Pelham in Downton. Recently as Versailles creators David Wolstencroft and Simon Mirren have defended the ribald reputation of the French court, Hadden-Paton says “the series is based on fact with artistic interpretations, a lot of crazy things are supposed to have happened.” He says the Versailles costumes and the food were immaculate, his degree in French from Durham University also came in handy for communicating with the French crew.
Since Downton Hadden-Paton has been busy, he has just stepped off the set of the second series of Versailles, the quasi-factual BBC spectacle of Louis XIV, the C17th Sun King of France.
Durham University was where Hadden-Paton discovered his thespian leanings and talents, he moved away from competitive sport into musicals, comedy and Shakepeare, hence he returned his army scholarship as he was unsure of his future. Then a fire at university awakened his own mortality and he decided to commit himself to doing something that he loved; he was searching for confirmation of his own ability so he decided him to audition for the London Academy of Music and Dramatic (LAMDA). Of course he was accepted and during the next three years found himself in a community he adored, young people from all walks of life joined together by a love of theatre.
Today it seems Hadden-Paton jumps from one royal house to another on November 16, The Crown, the series he starred in produced by Netflix will be released. The Crown is written by Peter Morgan who authored the successful film The Queen (about the death of Princess Diana) and the play The Audience (about Her Majesty’s private meetings with successive Prime Ministers); with a massive budget The Crown provides Hollywood Oscar style quality on television for the first time. Hadden-Paton plays Martin Charteris, Princess Elizabeth’s Private Secretary, the ten episodes were filmed in continuum and will be released in a bundle, so could potentially be watched during a Netflix binge.
Hadden-Paton has been married to Rebecca Night, also an actress, for five years, they have two daughters, Audrey and Martha, both are hands on parents and juggle the childcare between their artistic schedules, fortunately their home in Streatham is the epicentre of yummy-mummydom and there are five similar families in their road willing to lend them a hand.