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The world's most famous womaniser meant little to Blackpool star David Tennant until he arrived in Manchester.
"To be honest, I didn't really know much about Casanova," confesses the Scottish-born actor, who played Det Insp Carlisle in the BBC1 "Las Vegas of the North" drama.
But David soon got up to speed while filming the title role in Casanova (BBC3, 10pm Sunday), a new three-part series shot in and around Manchester and on location in Dubrovnik and Venice.
Produced by the city's Red Production Company, in association with Granada, the script is by Manchester-based Russell T Davies.
"My first experience of him was reading Russell's script," explains David, 33, "which wasn't what I was expecting. In the script he's not a lothario and he's not really a ladies' man. He's just someone who's passionate about the women he's passionate about. He's not sneaky or conniving or dishonest to any of them.
"Obviously, there was something really likeable about him. He wasn't a nasty piece of work. He was just somebody who existed on his instinct. And the character that hopefully we're portraying is someone who absolutely drinks the dregs of life of every experience that he can."
The Casanova cast includes Peter O'Toole, who plays the older Casanova, as well as Laura Fraser as Henriette, his one true love, and Spooks star Rupert Penry-Jones as the leading man's arch rival, the Duke of Grimani. Little Britain's Matt Lucas also appears as Villiers, a gay Venitian Duke, who for once is not the only gay in the village.
David isn't embarrassed by some of the scenes he had to play. "I've kind of got over it now. There was some quite raunchy stuff in Blackpool, I suppose, so you kind of think, well, they've seen it before. My mum and dad have seen me running naked across the National Theatre stage, so once you've done that...!"
Rupert Perry-Jones enjoyed playing Grimani, the tragic figure who's the villain of Russell's drama. "He's more than the baddie," explains the Cambridge Spies actor. "He's not just out to get Casanova because he hates him, there's something in himself he hates."
One bonus was the presence in the cast of Rupert's partner Dervla Kirwan, who plays Grimani's mother when he was a little. "She's responsible for the whole of my character's disappointments and depression," laughs Rupert.
In general, he's not a fan of couples working together. "For something like this it was great - we're not in any scenes together - and we've worked together a few times, but it's something we try to avoid."
Their daughter Florence will be one year old next month and Rupert says they both prefer jobs that allow them to spend time with her - such as his role as MI5 hero Adam Carter in Spooks.
"It does make it easier being in a regular job like Spooks - you know where you're going to be and what you're going to be doing, so you can make plans," adds Rupert, currently filming the fourth series of the BBC1 hit.
Laura Fraser says her character is completely in love with Casanova. But she wouldn't be that keen on living in the 18th century for real. "I couldn't think of anything worse. And the corsets were an absolute nightmare."
She was apprehensive about the prospect of filming sex scenes. "Luckily, I escaped steamy scenes in Casanova. And I've only got a couple of snogs. I really don't like doing them at all."
With Casanova eventually also due to be screened on BBC2, David is heading for the big screen with a small part in the forthcoming Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.
"The scale of it is huge, and to be part of that enormous beast is very exciting. They work at a very different pace, as they've got money and time to spend. They're filming three hours' worth in a year, and we filmed three hours of Casanova in three weeks!"
 
Source: Manchester Evening News 10th March 2005

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