Masterpiece Classic “Any Human Heart”
Feb. 27, 2011
A trio of great British actors play the different life stages of Logan Mountstuart, the hero of William Boyd's acclaimed novel about a writer, lover, art dealer, and spy living by his wits in the tumultuous 20th century. Masterpiece Classic presents a three-part adaptation of this moving tale of adventure, romance, and heartbreak on Any Human Heart , airing Sundays, Feb. 13, 20, and 27, 2011 at 9 p.m. on Eight, Arizona PBS.
Oscar-winner Jim Broadbent ( Iris, Moulin Rouge! ) stars as Mountstuart in his dotage, with Matthew Macfadyen ( Little Dorrit, Pride & Prejudice ) as the hero in his prime and Sam Claflin ( The Pillars of the Earth ) as the eager seducer in his impetuous youth.
Adapted by Boyd, the production was hailed as “an absolute treat” by The Guardian (London) during its recent UK broadcast. The review extolled the series as “a witty, touching, intimate romp through one man's life, and through a big chunk of the 20 th century, directed with panache, and with fine performances wherever you look.”
Joining the chorus of praise, The Times (London) wrote, “this is the story of one extraordinary everyman, whose appeal on the page—and now on the screen—lies in his humanity, and his fallibility.” Any Human Heart also stars Hayley Atwell ( Brideshead Revisited, Mansfield Park ), Kim Cattrall ( Sex and the City, My Boy Jack ), Gillian Anderson ( Bleak House, The X Files ), Tom Hollander ( Wives and Daughters, In the Loop ), Ed Stoppard ( Upstairs Downstairs ), Samuel West ( Poirot: Murder on the Orient Express ), and Richard Schiff ( The West Wing ).
Mountstuart's trajectory takes him to Paris in the '20s, the Spanish Civil War in the '30s, British intelligence in the '40s, the New York art scene in the '50s, a left-wing terrorist cell in the '70s…and that's not all. Along the way he befriends Ernest Hemingway (Gulian Ovenden, Foyle's War ) and Ian Fleming (Tobias Menzies, Casino Royale ), meets Winston Churchill (Gerry George), and becomes a favorite of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor (Hollander and Anderson)—the abdicated British king and his controversial American wife.
But his most intense relationships are with a succession of women that he loves, marries, or otherwise gets to know. First is Tess (Holliday Grainger), the lover of one of his closest friends. Next is Land (Charity Wakefield, Sense and Sensibility ), a fiery intellectual who dumps him when he writes a potboiler. Then it's Lottie (Emerald Fennell), a sedate aristocrat who actually likes his novel, so he marries her.
Undeterred by the marital bond, Mountstuart also gets passionate about Freya (Atwell), the love of his life whom he meets in a passport office in Lisbon; Gloria (Cattrall), the third wife of that same close friend; and Gabrielle (Valerie Kaprisky, Breathless ), a neighbor, during his retirement in southwest France.
Any Human Heart takes its title from Henry James's short story Louisa Pallant , which opens: “Never say you know the last word about any human heart.” Indeed, the hearts that Mountstuart wins and loses are as inscrutable as the great currents of history that sweep him up and carry him on his remarkable life's journey.