You may know Stephen Mangan for his role as anaesthesiologist Guy Secretan in Green Wing, or perhaps as the exasperated Sean Lincoln in sitcom Episodes. Now, you’ll have to get used to him in a whole new framework, as the actor is appearing on the big screen as family favourite Postman Pat.
It’s the much loved cartoon character’s first ever feature film, and Mangan is proud to be capturing the thoroughly English postie.
“Postman Pat is one of the most iconic television characters and it’s time he is given a chance to show what he can do on the big screen. You’ve got James Bond, you’ve got Jason Bourne: now it’s Pat’s turn.”
Postman Pat: The Movie sees Mangan as Pat, but Ronan Keating captures the postie’s singing voice. Wasn’t Mangan up to the crooning task himself? After all, he was in a band in the nineties…
“The main problem is – my voice is actually too good.” He quips. “I mean, Pat’s supposed to have a beautiful singing voice but mine sounds otherworldly, just disturbingly beautiful….”
And whilst Ronan has spent years as a member of Boyzone, Steve prefers a rather different musical style; “I’m more of a folk artist.” He quips. “Give me an aran jumper and some wellies and a stool and I’m away.”
He may jest about competing with the Irish singer, but Mangan didn’t actually meet the pop sensation until after his shoot – or any of the cast for that matter. Apparently, animation is more of a solo effort.
“I did the entire thing on my own in a booth over two days and I actually met the women who played my wife at the premiere.”
“That’s the way animation works. Quite often you do your thing in isolation, you perfect your performance, they get what they want from you. It’s a great credit to the director who really is responsible for the whole thing because he’s got all these conversations in his head, the way it’s going to look, they do the animation after you’ve recorded the voice.”
It may afford him less banter with his cast mates, but Mangan divulges that he loves working as a voiceover artist.
“I think the voice is fascinating, the fact that you can pick up a phone and hear a voice, and out of all the millions of people on the planet, the thousands and thousands of voices you’ve heard, you know instantly who is talking. That’s incredible. The fact that you can get so much subtlety and nuance is remarkable. The voice is an amazing instrument and I don’t think it’s been bettered by any manmade instrument.”
Mangan isn’t new to stretching his vocal chords for a part. Primarily a stage actor – and a TONY nominated one at that – he refused film and TV roles for five years after finishing drama school, preferring to remain upon the stage.
Now, twenty years on, he remains resolute that despite encroaching technology, the human aspect of performance can never be replaced.
“With all the animated films we have around, and we have some great, artistic stuff that’s been done – Toy Story, Frozen – what makes them so good is the human performance. You don’t get many silent movies or cartoons anymore, because nuance needs to be provided by human beings … you’ll never get rid of actors however hard you try!”
After graduating from RADA in 1994, the actor’s career trajectory has now leapt from stage to screen to animation, and for that Mangan credits his “itchy brain”.
“I get very bored easily, doing the same thing over and over again doesn’t interest me. We’ve got Episodes filming in August so I’m looking forward to series four of that. In the meantime I’ve got radio and a bit of presenting: you mix it up.”
That’s said … “I’d play Pat again in a heartbeat.”
Postman Pat: The Movie opens at cinemas nationwide on Friday 23rd May