A few weeks ago, we had the privilege of bringing some of the stars of The Da Vinci Code to the beautiful Rosslyn Chapel, a pivotal location in both the book and the film.
We sat down with Nigel Harman, Danny John-Jules and Leigh Lothian to talk about working with such an international story, putting their own stamp on iconic characters, and what they couldn’t tour without…
We’re here today in the beautiful Rosslyn Chapel – how does it feel to be in a real-world location from the story?
Danny: I think it feels like being onstage in the Da Vinci Code! The designer has really captured that in the design of the play – the first thing I thought when I saw the set was, “This is touring?”
Leigh: To get to come here is a complete privilege. It’s beautiful, you can’t really compare it to what you’re trying on stage because it’s completely different when you’re in the space and it was so interesting – all the décor inside is unbelievable.
Nigel: I’ve realised that my acting when I walk into fake Rosslyn Chapel is rubbish because when I walked in, I was kind of instantly very still, humble, quiet – it makes you very reverential, all in one breath. Everyone in there talks in slightly hushed tones. We could do more of that in the show, actually!
"To get to come here is a complete privilege"
- Leigh Lothian
This is an international story, which takes place all over the world – what are the challenges of bringing that to the stage?
Leigh: In some ways, it’s much easier! You can make suggestions about where you are, rather than being on location – that’s a lot more expensive!
Nigel: Everyone said to me – when they asked what I was doing next, “How are they going to do that?” And I went – I don’t know!
There are projections covering the stage, so you can see the inner workings of Robert and Sophie’s minds, so audiences are catapulted into the show. With that context you can whip straight out of the Louvre Museum and be in Versailles in ten seconds, so it’s a really clever way of doing it.
What is it about the story that you think has spoken to so many people over the years?
Danny: Anything that’s got a conspiracy theory attached to it is always going to be more appealing to an audience because of the controversy that it kickstarts!
Nigel: I think there’s a load of really interesting questions at its heart –it’s unpicking religion on some level, which is something that a lot of generations were brought up on, which makes for a fascinating conversation round the dinner table – there’s no real answers, so I think it just feeds itself and everyone gets really excited about it.
Nigel and Danny, you’re playing characters who were played by Tom Hanks and Sir Ian McKellen in the film, respectively – what’s that like?
Danny: For me it’s that I’m stepping into the shoes of not only a Hollywood star, but a Lord of the Theatre, and if I even think for a fraction of a second that I’m out of my league, then I will be. If anyone walks out of that theatre saying Sir Ian McKellen, I’ve failed miserably – but no one has mentioned him yet!
Nigel: I think it’s kind of fine. My main question was, “Will I have to grow a mullet?”, and when I realised I didn’t I was like – yeah, I’ll do it. It’s one thing having the mullet on stage but being in a nice cafe in Edinburgh and still having it, you know– although mullets are in! That could have been really cool!
What do you love about being onstage?
Leigh: You’re getting paid to do something you love. I’ve been an actor since 2011, and there are long periods out of work at the best of times. When the pandemic hit, like everyone else I was out of work for two years, so when I got this job, I was crying my eyes out because I was so happy to be able to do something that I love to do again.
Nigel: I love it when the lights go down and the story begins, and we’re taking everyone with us.
What’s the one thing you couldn’t go on tour without?
Nigel: My meditation. It helps me as I go from place to place.
Leigh: My hot water bottle – although I have 3 chihuahuas I can’t bring them with me – if I could it would be them!
Danny: Oh – shower bag, pictures of the family, the Kids and the Mrs. Once I’ve got my shower bag, I’m good – the costumes are supplied!
What’s it like to perform in Edinburgh?
Leigh: I live in Edinburgh, but I’d never been to the King’s until recently. I went a few months ago when a friend was in Looking Good Dead – it was strange that a month after I’d gone to see him, I found out I’d got this job. It’s beautiful!
Nigel: It has a warm place in my heart. I’ve been to the Festival and the Film Festival a few times, it’s always nice coming to a capital city and getting out of England – the chat is very good in the pubs, I’ve always got a smile on my face when I’m here.
How would you describe the show to someone who’s been living under a rock for 20 years, and missed the whole phenomenon?
Leigh: If you like fast paced thrillers, and especially if you know the book and the story, it’s like the cherry on top of the Dan Brown cake of what you can experience with the Da Vinci Code – but it’s also different enough that you can discover something new, and the story is told more from Sophie’s perspective, so it gives you a new perspective.
Nigel: Dynamic, thrilling, a historical adventure ride!