My first introduction to Michael Landes was watching him play popular eighth-grader Kirk McCray on ABC’s hit show The Wonder Years. Kirk was awkward Kevin Arnold’s nemesis and Winnie Cooper’s first boyfriend, and for any seventh-grade girl tuning into The Wonder Years (myself included) in the late ’80s, Kirk was positively dreamy. I had the pleasure of meeting Michael in person years later, as he is the son-in-law of one of my favorite people, Harry Benson (a.k.a. “acclaimed Scottish photographer Harry Benson, CBE”). Harry and his lovely wife, Gigi, have two beautiful daughters, Tessa and Wendy, the latter of whom married Michael in 2000. Wendy, also an actress, and Michael met on a film set, and although the two have both gone on to enjoy greater post-production career success (the movie went straight to video), the biggest achievement to come from their on-set introduction was a happy marriage and two beautiful babies.
Michael currently stars in Hooten & the Lady, a British television series that follows the story of two treasure hunters, roguish American adventurer Ulysses “Hooten” (Michael Landes) and British Museum curator Lady Alexandra (Ophelia Lovibond). Together, the two embark on a series of global treasure-hunting escapades. The show initially premiered in September of 2016 on Sky 1 and aired through November. The series premiered in the United States on the CW on July 13, 2017, and is currently available for viewing. We sat down with Hooten & the Lady’s Michael Landes to find out more about him, Hooten, and his leading lady.
Q: How did you get involved with Hooten & the Lady?
A: My London agent sent me the first episode and I loved it. I was very aware of the show and a big fan of its writer, Tony Jordan. I put some scenes on tape and then they flew me to London to perform chemistry reads with various actresses. They offered me the role after that.
Q: What do you like best about the show? Why do you think viewers should tune in?
A: We traveled to four continents. To be in the actual locations was not only authentic, but also afforded the show “big production” value, which we don’t often see on television. The show is ultimately about Hooten and Lady Alexandra’s relationship and the fun banter that ensues. Oh, and there is some historical treasure hunting in each episode…
Q: Do you enjoy playing Hooten? Are you able to relate to him? Were there any particular challenges tackling the role?
A: I loved this character immediately on the page. He reminded me of all the action heroes I grew up watching and mimicking. His wisecracking and mischief is not far off from my temperament. Many of my school teachers would agree! The physical challenge was very demanding but I enjoyed it all.
Q: Do you have a favorite episode and/or shoot location? Any memorable on-set anecdotes that readers would enjoy hearing about (funny moments, unforeseen accidents, etc.)?
A: I loved shooting at Angkor Wot in Cambodia. It’s hard because we went to so many places and I have amazing memories from all of them. In the jungle of Episode One, our snake wrangler caught about 37 snakes in two weeks. Most were deadly poisonous species, like the Black Mamba and the Boomslang.
Q: What was it like working with the cast?
A: Great fun. Ophelia is smart and funny and a hard worker, which is both inspiring and keeps you on your toes. We also had an amazing guest cast, with whom we all bonded mostly because the adventure took us to so many exciting places.
Q: What are you up to for the rest of the year?
A: I’m currently filming a two-part BBC drama called Silent Witness in London and having the best time. Will spend some time with friends and family in the Hamptons as well!