The Poldark Interviews: Jack Farthing is George Warleggan

As the first season of Poldark progresses George Warleggan is moving more to the centre of the action as he manipulates his way into owning a share of Ross’s mine. Here actor Jack Farthing talks about playing a character who fans love to hate and why he feels he missed out on some of the Cornish action.

George Warleggan is a moneyed banker and Ross Poldark’s nemesis but don’t let that put you off him says Jack Farthing who plays the character.
“George is a layered and elaborate character. Some people would call him a villain but I shy away from that description – what makes him so exciting is that he is like any one of us; full of jealousy and resentment, he motivates himself and has this vast ambition and inability to decide what he wants. It has been very satisfying to get my teeth into the character.”

Jack continues: ” Ross and George haven’t seen eye to eye since they were at school and it hasn’t been explained why, which is a really interesting as it could be any number of things and we talk through all these different alternatives. When we find them at the beginning of the series, there have been years of simmering resentment and it’s grown into something bigger. They absolutely are pitched against each other, Ross is the person that has the ability to make George feel inferior more than anyone else and that is the thing George fights against, it’s his battle. He strives to get the respect he feels he deserves, Ross is the person who cares least about that, and is least afraid to put him in his place.”

Yet both maintain a friendship with Francis Poldark…
” Yes, it’s interesting as Frances sits very much between them. The story is that Ross and Francis were best of friends, Ross then went away and George stepped in and they became friends. There’s a bit of political behaviour on George’s part, he uses Francis to get what he wants and what makes it most interesting is George does have this real love and respect for Francis, there’s a definite friendship there and they spend a lot of their time together. Francis benefits from that too to some extent as he has the support George gives him financially. ”

For Jack one of the most important elements to the character is his appearance.
“He is absolutely splendid. More than most he cares about the way he looks. He is on show and is a man of fashion and elegance and slightly ahead of his time. His wardrobe is full of expensive clothes he could show off to make sure people know that he is one to watch.

“I feel like it’s very difficult to work out exactly where you are with a character until you work out the costume, even though you don’t want it to feel like a costume you want it to feel like clothes. The costumes played a huge part, and really helped with creating the whole image. You need to be aware that George is putting on a costume and presenting himself to society.”

And Jack was fascinated to learn about the society of that era in Cornwall.
“I didn’t know much about that period, which is one of the best things about my job – I get these niches of expertise. Everything was so much harder in 18th Century Cornwall, a lot of people are struggling, apart from George as he’s the one with the money . And George rarely stepped foot outside town so everything was easily accessible..”

Because of this Jack feels he did miss out on some of the joys of the Cornish landscape.
“It’s the expanse of the drama of the landscape that allows the actors to work around this and they all match; the adventure and the romantic coastline. It was interesting to understand just how big the landscape is, and all the factors that played into why people behaved the way they did at the time. As George is a town dweller, I feel I missed out on a lot of Cornwall as many of my scenes were filmed in interiors.”

Poldark continues on BBC-1 on Sunday evenings at 9.00pm.