Everyone knows his name, and no doubt his appearance at the Edinburgh Fringe – his first – will be a hot ticket. The press are already anticipating the new play, Rose, while the city has barely recovered from the world premier of his first executive-produced movie, Ghosted, at the Edinburgh International Film Festival.
It’s more than 25 years since Art Malik shot to fame with a series-stealing performance in The Jewel in the Crown, but at 58, he seems busier than ever.
His second visit of the year to Edinburgh will be with daughter Keira. The two will perform in a play written especially for them by young Welsh actor and playwright Hywel John. John’s debut, Pieces, earned glowing reviews from The Stage and the Guardian last year.
Malik recalls: “When Keira said she wanted to take up a play to Edinburgh with me I thought it would be a good idea to ask Hywel to write something for us. We’ve also got Abbie Wright, a talented young director. From my point of view, it’s great to work with a new generation.”
Rose is the tale of a Middle-Eastern immigrant’s battle to bring up his English-born daughter – the perfect characters for a real father and daughter to play – but that’s where the similarities end. Malik was born in Pakistan and left aged three. He has never felt any desire to visit the birthplace of his parents. “I don’t remember it – my childhood memories are in Balham,” he says.
John says he wanted to use the father-daughter relationship for his play. “I thought, well. that’s a given, so I might as well use it. I wanted to explore the idea of Englishness, particularly related to first-generation immigrants, and that’s what the play is about.”
Malik is looking forward to his first trip to Edinburgh Fringe as an actor. “I’ve visited a few times but I’ve never performed,” he says. Being close to his family is nothing new, though – when the girls were younger, he would take the whole family on location. Now they’re grown up, Rose represents a good opportunity to spend time together. Indeed Malik’s other daughter, Jessica, 30, has volunteered her services as producer.
Mum and wife is actress Gina Rowe – is she disappointed not to be involved? “No, she’s extremely happy not to be,” he jokes. “She has enough on her plate.”
So how has Dad been managing with Keira, 28, on their first project? “Too early to tell,” he says with a chuckle. They have had one read-through so far. It went well; however, he blotted his copybook by turning up late and received a good telling off. “I had no excuse,” he reveals, “I suppose I’m known for a lack of punctuality but I always like to think that what I was doing was important.”
It’s a classic excuse but Malik seems open about his foibles. He was declared bankrupt last year and is quite charming in his explanation. “I’m like a lot of people who are experiencing financial difficulties and I was advised that was the best way to deal with it. It will all sort itself out.”
He admits that it has affected his lifestyle but is stoical in his pick-youself-up, dust-yourself-off response. “You just have to get on with it,” he says, adding, “it’s just a thing that affects me and my creditors.”
And it’s a very pleasant lifestyle he enjoys after nearly three decades of success: home is leafy south London – Kingston-upon-Thames. He has enjoyed a varied career, from TV dramas such as Holby City to blockbuster movies like True Lies.
There has been success on stage, too – he and Kristin Scott Thomas took their Royal Court production of The Seagull to Broadway in 2008. His next challenge will be on a much smaller stage but he has no fear of the more intimate surroundings of The Pleasance. “It’s fine to be closer. You perform for the room you’re in. And the nearer you are to the audience, the less you have to do.”
He holds no ambition other than to continue working, he says modestly. “The only frustration is missing out on roles because you’ve committed to something else.” For this reason, he has turned down working with Steven Spielberg on three occasions. But he remains philosophical.
“If I’m honest, the real joy is having survived so long in the business.”
Rose, Pleasance Courtyard,
3-29 August (not 16), 5.25pm
From £6.50, Tel: 0131 556 6550