Brian turns up the Heat on celebrity, fame and backstabbing

A HUGELY talented young man, feted by the public but ultimately destroyed by celebrity and the power of his enemies... it sounds like something straight from the pages of Heat magazine.

This, however, is the news as it might have been reported in 1791, the year that Austrian musical genius Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart died in poverty at the age of just 35, burnt out and no longer such a hit with the fans.

That, at least, is the version of the composer’s life as put forward in Peter Shaffer’s critically-acclaimed drama Amadeus, the hypothetical story that suggests Mozart was killed not just by personal weakness but also by the efforts of his arch-rival, Austrian court composer Antonio Salieri.

The play made its debut back in the 1970s but, as a new revival opens at Sheffield’s Crucible, the themes of celebrity and the fickle nature of fame seem more appropriate than ever.

Playing the ill-fated and foul-mouthed young composer is Bryan Dick, who could himself be described as a rising star after a string of movie and TV credits that include everything from Hollywood blockbuster Master and Commander – the naval adventure starring Russell Crowe – to TV hits like Shameless, Bleak House, Elizabeth The Virgin Queen, Blackpool and Clocking Off.

But if you’re yet to see his face staring out from the pages of the latest edition of Heat or Take a Break, that’s because he insists he’s not really interested in that side of the business.

“It’s a strange situation to be in,” he admits when faced with the question of how much he now sees himself as a famous person. “I enjoy working, but the other side of the business isn’t something I’m necessarily interested in.

“I think the whole question of fame is very much a double- edged sword.

“If you achieve a certain amount of success, you have a greater distance to fall so the higher you climb the scarier it becomes.

“I’d rather be at home with my mates and in the pub than doing all the award things - at those kind of events you can’t be yourself.

“I think very much you have to separate the personal life and your working life – they are two separate entities.”

Perhaps one of the reasons Bryan seems so certain about the mix of life and career is that he’s already had many years to become accustomed to the pressures of a career in theatre and television.

Inspired by the legendary Fred Astaire, his original intention, he explains, was to be a dancer, and he studied classical dance at the famous Elmhirst School.

“I said I wanted to tap dance but I eventually went to ballet school – and very quickly fell out of love with it,” he laughs. “I wasn’t sure this was for me. But I was only 12 and I tried to keep going.”

It was while he was at the school, though, that casting directors working on TV drama The Life and Times of Henry Pratt came looking for young actors and he landed the role of the teenage version of the eponymous hero.

“I was getting paid for Henry Pratt and really enjoying it but I wasn’t having any fun with dance,” he recalls.

“I knew I wasn’t going to be a terribly good dancer anyway.”

So he left the school and, for a while, returned home to his native Carlisle, before picking up the acting dream and winning a place at drama school LAMDA.

“And since then I’ve been very lucky,” he says.

“I’ve been lucky because I’ve been able to do a variety of interesting things and I hope that continues.”

n Amadeus, The Crucible, November 7 - December 8.