highwayman in charitable mood by Geraldine Baybutt
Jonny Lee Miller robs from the rich to give to himself in
his new film Plunkett and Macleane. Alongside Robert Carlyle,
his co-star from the cult film Trainspotting, Lee Miller plays
the role of an 18th century highwayman. This weekend he will
be back out on the highways of London in search of cash but
his motive will be strictly charitable.
Lee Miller, like Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels stars
Jason Flemying and Jason Statham, is running in Sunday's Flora
London Marathon. He will wear the blue and yellow colours
of Whizz-Kidz, the charity which specialises in kitting children
out with tailor-made wheelchairs.
The 26-year-old from Primrose Hill has trained in a variety
of locations for his debut race. He has been running eight
miles a day in London, Northampton, where he was filming for
Jane Austin's Mansfield Park, and Glasgow during the making
of a film based on Iain Banks' novel Complicity.
His love of acting was first fuelled while at school, under
the expert guidance of drama teacher, Frank Whately, brother
of actor Kevin Whately. His passion for running stems
back to his days at Tiffin School in Kingston-Upon-Thames,
where he excelled in cross-country and enjoyed playing rugby.
"I used to play a lot of rugby. I lived in America for a
while and I played for the Santa Monica Dolphins," he said.
"But it is ferocious over there because the ground is so hard.
One season I just broke too many bones and I thought, 'hang
on a minute'. I even went to Cannes with my arm broken wearing
a huge plaster and completely filled up with painkillers."
Lee Miller played the part of Sick Boy, the wide boy heroin
junkie of Trainspotting, but in reality his only addiction
"I try to run for at least an hour every morning before filming.
Every week we get one day off on which I will generally do
a big run - probably 20 or 22 miles. I have found that I have
more energy and running helps me to stay more alert during
work. Relaxation is very important for actors. If you are
working 12-hour days, the mental concentration which you need
is exhausting. Running clears my head completely. Once I have
got my rhythm going, something just clicks and I get a real
buzz of energy from it. On the last film which we finished
two weeks ago, we had a really gruelling schedule. The first
assistant director told me that I wouldn't even be able to
run a bath but I am going to prove him wrong."
Mansfield Park, in which he plays the part of prudish academic
Edmund, saw a return to costume. "I got so sick of hanging
about in frilly shirts. Getting into costume every day just
makes you long to get back in your jeans," he said.
On Sunday, a running vest will replace the frilly shirt but,
despite his mounting fame, Lee Miller's face may go unnoticed
by many in the crowds.
"I'm still kind of unrecognisable at the moment, even in
London. I usually get a couple of autograph hunters per day
but that's always nice. At the end of the day, if you are
making films for people to enjoy and you hate getting feedback,
then maybe you are in the wrong job. You can't close yourself
off from people. I'm happy with my freedom but I also value
my job as well."
Complicity took Lee Miller back to Glasgow, where Trainspotting
was filmed. His running route along the Kelvin River and the
city's canals and slopes left a strong impression. "If I go
out in my trainers early in the morning I get to see loads
of the city even before I go to work. Glasgow is such
a beautiful place to live. For the same price as just an ordinary
place in London, you can live like a king in Glasgow and the
countryside is only a few miles away. I've done three films
there, so the place really does feel like my second home now.
When I came up to Scotland, I brought all the cold running
gear, including bright yellow stuff so that I wouldn't get
run over on the dual carriageways. But I love running in the
rain. You soon realise that rain doesn't actually hurt when
you have been out in it enough."
Whizz-Kidz will have more than 700 runners in the London
Marathon and are hoping to raise more than £1 million
from their efforts.
"I realise how lucky I am to be able to enjoy running," said
Lee Miller. "Using my legs to run the Marathon helps to point
out the problems which disabled children face. It is important
that all kids have their freedom and the charity's aim is
to give children as much independence as possible."
But will Carlyle, his co-star in Plunkett and Macleane, also
be taking to the track?
"No, he won't be running. He used to run a lot when he was
younger, but he is getting on a bit now, poor chap. He is
more into yoga
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