Everyone is Taken with Clive Standen in the Riveting NBC drama
Not only is Irish actor Clive Standen extremely charming, and a dedicated television actor in the NBC drama Taken, he is also equally devoted to his family.
In Taken, the NBC drama, Standen stars as a younger version of Bryan Mills, the character played by Liam Neeson in the trilogy.
His character, Bryan Mills, a former Green Beret, must overcome a personal tragedy that shakes his world, and he fights to overcome the incident and exact revenge while starting his career as a special intelligence operative.
Taken premiered on February 27, 2017, and the second season began on January 12, 2018. After taking three weeks off for the Winter Olympics, the show is back and better than ever. The show was created by Alexander Cary and Luc Besson, and stars Gaius Charles and Jennifer Beals.
The 36-year-old Standen also plays Rollo, in the History Channel’s series Vikings. This is a historical drama that is filmed in Ireland, and first premiered on March 3, 2013, in Canada. The fifth season began on November 29, 2017, and has been renewed for a sixth season.
Vikings is inspired by the tales of the Norsemen of early medieval Scandinavia. The show centers around the sagas of Danish/Swedish Viking Ragnar Lothbrok, one of the best-known legendary Norse heroes and notorious as the scourge of England and France.
Clive’s other previous roles include: Sir Gawain in the Starz series Camelot, Archer in the BBC TV series Robin Hood, and Private Carol Harris in the British sci-fi show Doctor Who.
The following is an exclusive interview with Clive about Taken, being the doting father of three young children, the best advice he has ever received, and not taking his good fortune for granted.
Please tell me what’s going on with your show Taken.
CLIVE STANDEN: The show has gone gangbusters.
What are you excited about?
CS: It is really great. We revamped the show for Season 2. It’s what I wanted it to be from the beginning and I love where it is headed. I’m really happy where we we’re going now.
What attracted you to this show and this role?
CS: The reason why I signed on to play this character is because in the film, the one thing I took away from it is, this is a man on his own. He’s a dad and he’s chasing after his daughter, and he’s the only one that can get her back. He has to break through the red tape. He has to break the law to get what he needs, and we forgive him for it.
How is that different from other TV dramas?
CS: Well, with a lot of network shows that are out there, they seem to surround their lead characters with a team – a team of people. There’s nothing wrong with Season 1 of Taken. But when I think about the franchise of Taken, I think about Bryan Mills. I want to see a lone wolf. I want to see a man out on his own. That’s the formula we got in Season 2.
Where is the show currently?
CS: Now in episode six we’re starting to have rival adversaries for Bryan Mills. Erik Prince, in real life that owns Blackwater, the private military company. We have a character called Ramsey who is very similar. He owns a company called Black Falls. We make our own little comment on that. But more importantly Ramsey as a character is, for want of a better word a bad guy, because I think everyone’s a bad guy to somebody. To Bryan Mills he’s the bad guy. He’s going to be a really worthy adversary for me and Jennifer Beals’ character, Christina Hart.
I know that you work a lot, but when you are home how do you spend your free time?
CS: Oh, my free time that’s a no-brainer. I’ve been a father of three kids since I was 22 years old and I’m a married man. I did Vikings for five seasons – I’m still in Vikings – and I was always home by 8 p.m. every night.
What did that mean for you and your family?
CS: Well, maybe two out of those five weekday nights I’d be putting the kids to bed. Now I’m doing 17-hour shifts on Taken, and I’m the lead in every scene; which means I don’t often get to see my family. So, when I do, that’s all that matters to us.
What do you enjoy doing?
CS: Really, whatever they are into right now. My free time is spent playing Pokémon cards with my little one, my seven-year-old son Rafferty. My daughter, Edie, is 11, and she’s like an engineer. She’s learning all about the history of flight and how planes fly and things, and I test her on all of her science exams. My older son, Hayden, is 15, so I kind of spend a lot of the time talking to him about politics, life, and his interests. I also try to get a date night with my wife, Francesca, when I can fit it in. That’s what I do.
Do you have a favorite family vacation type of thing when you have some time off?
CS: I grew up as a working-class boy and I didn’t really get to go on many holidays outside of Britain when I was growing up. We’re still like that as a family now. It’s only been the last few years that daddy’s career has taken off a little bit. So, the only holiday I can sing and shout about is after Taken Season 1 – we all went to Hawaii.
What was that like?
CS: To you guys in America, Hawaii is not that far away, but to us it’s like on the other side of the world. We had the most incredible holiday. I took my daughter trekking for nine hours across volcanoes and going to see waterfalls and other things. I loved it. We saw whales and dolphins. We’re a big scuba diving family.
Do your children like to come on the set?
CS: They haven’t been to the set of Taken much because they’re in Toronto going to school there. When I was on Vikings they used to come down quite a lot and get into costume and be Viking extras and have little scenes. On Taken, my daughter is really the only one that came down to set.
What about your sons?
CS: My older son came down for a father-son day. My son came down and was a grip for the day, where he got to see what real man’s work is. He looks at me now and he’s like ‘you haven’t got a proper job. Those guys over there that are lifting all the heavy stuff, they’ve got a proper job.’ [He laughed].
What is the best advice you’ve ever gotten as a dad, or you would give somebody as a new dad?
CS: Never give up on anything. I don’t mean in the acting sense; that’s a cliché. Like never give up, because the job you are hoping for might be around the corner.
I think that’s pretty wise.
CS: To me, it’s about never letting someone tell you that you can’t have something that you really want. But it also means you have to bloody work for it, because I think there’s a generation of kids coming up now with all these reality TV shows like The Voice, and the X-Factor, where they just think because they want to do it that they can do it.
Please tell me more about this.
CS: It’s like you can do anything you want to do, but you’ve got to work for it. That’s something I grew up with. That work ethic of going ‘don’t talk about it, do it.’ You can waste so much energy telling everybody what you want to do, or you could just get on with learning about how you can actually achieve it. I think that’s what I learned. We had Richard Briers who was – God rest his soul – an amazing British actor who was my instructor at drama school.
It sounds like he had a major impact on your life and your career.
CS: Yes, I agree. Richard Briers was famous for doing lots of Kenneth Branagh Shakespeare films and The Good Life is a comedy show that we had in Britain for a long time. He’s was incredible actor who died recently.
What advice did he give you that made a lasting impression?
CS: During my last year of drama school, he’d say ‘if you really, really, really, really, really, really, really want to act, don’t, but if you have to; that’s when you do it.’ His expression said everything. It’s not about your job; it’s about the rejections. It’s about wanting to wake up in the morning and think about it and go to bed at night and think about it.
Is there other advice you took to heart?
CS: Yes. The other thing I live by is the Jack Nicklaus quote, the golfer, when someone said, ‘you know Jack, you’ve been really lucky of late.’ And he said ‘yeah, it’s funny, the harder I work the luckier I get.CS: I don’t mind what they do, but they have to show me they want it enough. Because it’s very easy when your dad does something for a living to go, ‘yeah, I want to do that.’ But at the moment my son wants to be a YouTube blogger. I don’t mind if he wants to be a YouTube blogger, but I want to see him pick up a camera, put up a sheet behind him in his bedroom, film himself talking, constantly, because being a YouTube blogger you have no one to talk to.
So, you are behind your children’s pursuits if they give it their all?
CS: Exactly. I will support them no matter what they do, but they have to show me that they actually want it, because the YouTube work, for example, is really hard. I know how hard it is.
Several actors, screenwriters and directors I have been talking to have been making their children check their cell phones and other devices before dinner so they can have quiet evening as a family. How do you feel about that?
CS: I think it’s great. In fact, there is a device I know about that goes a step further.
What’s it called?
CS: It’s called OurPact in England. It basically controls all the Wi-Fi devices in your house.
To shut them off?
CS: Yeah. They can come home from school and they can just gorge on social media and their iPads and their devices, but as soon as 6 p.m. comes and dinner is served, you press a button on your phone and everything just turns off. If they’re in the room you go, ‘Hayden, dinner’s ready,’ and they don’t respond, but if you press that button and they’ll go “my Wi-Fi went off.” And then suddenly they’re down for dinner, and that’s it.
There was actually a study done that families that eat together at least once or twice a week, their kids do better in school, because they’re talking about their day and they’re not glued to their devices.
CS: At breakfast time, I get them up really early in the morning. I make them pack lunch, I make them breakfast. Then they just watch TV until it’s time for me to go, right to school. Then they brush teeth. They’ve not done anything else.
So, it sounds like you made some changes around the house?
CS: Yes. Now I’m like,’sorry that just don’t work in the mornings.; Suddenly they’ve got nothing else to do. So, they’re kind of like, ‘oh well, I’ll sit around the table and eat dinner with dad. ‘He’s like frying eggs and things like that.’ I love it. I’ve finally found like I’m the boss of my kitchen again. I’m like do you want eggs, do you want pancakes, do you want this? So, then I’ve got their attention and I get to communicate before they go to school.
Nice, very nice. I have two sisters and my dad was a businessman. I’ll never forget people said to him, you are a very rich man because you have a wife who loves you and three loving daughters.
CS: I have to agree with that. I was a dad at 22. The biggest lesson I learned was, I try hard and then I realized that the only true unconditional love you’ll ever find is from your children. Because as a young parent anyway, and I’m sure as any parent, you mess up all the time. Then you wake up in the morning and you go, ‘God, I’m the worst parent in the world.’ And so then they go “I love you dad.” And all is forgiven. You just go, they’re just that. It makes you try harder. And you learn, and you learn, and you learn. That’s what I hold on to. They’re the true people who love me. That’s why I do everything. There’s no right or wrong to being a parent. You just forgive each other and you move on.
[Taken airs on NBC on Fridays at 9 p.m. ET. For more information click here: TAKEN]
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