Friday, 18 February 2011

The Man With The Recurring Face - Matthew Leitch

Have you seen this man? Chances are you probably have even if you haven't been looking for him. That would be because over the past 10 years he has worked alongside Christian Bale, Heath Ledger, Ron Livingston and Wesley Snipes. His screen credits include The Dark Knight and Band of Brothers but would you recognise him in the street? Probably not.

Matthew Leitch is in many ways the true face of acting as a career choice. Having left drama school, he stumbled onto the set of Nickelodeon's lighthearted football series Renford Rejects as the crippled protégé Stewart Jackson. Leitch in his own words described the show as "awful" and suggested that all remaining copies of the show had been "used as landfill" when the M25 was widened. And what became of his fellow Rejects? For the most part recurring bit part roles in Casualty, Holby City, Doctors and The Bill seem to have kept a trio of them in work sporadically. It is appears that these four shows make up at least 95% percent of all available acting work in Britain today. Leitch though has ignored this route so far and is yet to ply his trade as a man with severe injuries having walked too close to a lawn mower wearing an ominously long scarf. So where next after a poorly received kids TV show with a large cult following of pale white males in their early twenties (myself included)?

Leitch found himself as Staff Sergeant Floyd Talbert in the highly acclaimed Band of Brothers and appeared in more than half of the episodes in the series. His career seemed to be taking off as it has for many of his co-stars over the past decade. The drama was the first appearance of Tom Hardy as well as boosting the profiles of Ron Livingston and Damien Lewis. Unfortunately, Leitch's star did not rise in the same manner but that did not prevent him from popping up again in more unexpected places.

You may recognise him as "the man reading the paper" for an advert of The Game supplement of The Times. Or as the man who has to defend himself from charges of "polygameat" in a Burger King advert.

His appearance in The Dark Knight may have been a case of blink and you'll miss it as he appeared briefly as "Prisoner on the boat" but is an example of just how much this man has got around over the years. From the luminous orange walls of Eddie's cafe in Renford Rejects to the luminous orange jumpsuit in a billion dollar grossing film.

It is hard to say how Leitch regards his career to date or what his career goals are. To describe him merely as the cliché ridden term of "a struggling actor" would do a great disservice to a man who essentially has an acting C.V that many would kill for. He is the other side of the showbiz void beyond the glamour of a household name and red carpets. An everyday bloke in an extraordinary world (as well as making a great bit of movie/Renford Rejects trivia down the pub).

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