John Stonehouse star addresses ‘ridiculous’ transformation

Stonehouse: Trailer starring Matthew Macfadyen

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Succession star Matthew Macfadyen had to have a dramatic makeover to embody John Stonehouse in the ITV drama. The former Labour MP hit national headlines when he faked his own death in 1974 after falling into financial difficulty. Macfadyen had to mask his blue eyes with brown contact lenses and wore “ridiculous” false teeth to become the disgraced politician. 

Episode one of Stonehouse, which aired on Monday, followed the rise and fall of the minister’s career. 

Stonehouse worked under ex-Prime Minister Harold Wilson’s first Labour government.

His career took a hit when he was suspected of spying for Czechoslovakia, which led to the end of his political career. 

At the time, Stonehouse was having an affair with his secretary Sheila Buckley and he wanted to start a new life with her away from England. 

Stonehouse made the brazen decision to leave his wife and children behind to fly out to Miami and fake his own death by leaving a pile of clothes on a beach. 

The authorities had reason to believe he’d drowned but he had fled to Australia.

In the second episode, the local police in Melbourne become suspicious of Stonehouse as his wife and mistress fly out to confront him. 

Ahead of the instalment airing, Macfadyen opened up to and other media about how the costume department created the Stonehouse look. 

He explained: “I looked at a lot of pictures and we had a fabulous makeup designer called Trudy Kendrick, she gave me his brilliant wigs you know, from the 60s on to the 70s.” 

To complete the look, Macfadyen needed brown contact lenses and a new set of teeth. 

However, Macfadyen described Stonehouse’s teeth as “a horror” which were difficult to recreate. 

The actor said: “They were very bad [teeth]. We had some made, but they were too much. It was ridiculous. 

“He’s never really smiling, but there is one picture of him smiling. He has a big smile and it’s really shocking.”

They settled for a set of false teeth which were similar to Stonehouse’s but were not too distracting. 

The final episode of Stonehouse airs on Wednesday at 9pm on ITV.

Stonehouse eventually died of a heart attack in 1988 when he was 62 years old. 

His former mistress-turned-wife Sheila stated he collapsed at their Southampton home and paramedics weren’t able to revive him.

Stonehouse suffered three heart attacks when he was behind bars and needed open heart surgery after he was convicted of fraud in 1974. 

He represented himself in court and was sentenced to seven years in prison. However, he was released early for good behaviour. 

Stonehouse episodes are available to watch on ITVX. 

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