BBC America always adds a big dollop of veddy British seasoning to TCA, but this year the cabler delivered a mini seminar on one of Blighty’s greatest 20th century poets, Dylan Thomas.
Tom Hollander plays the self-destructive Welshman in the telepic “A Poet in New York,” which chroncles Thomas’ last days in New York before his death in 1953 at age 39.
Hollander impresses in the role. It was clear from his appearance at TCA — via satellite because his flight out of France was unexpectedly grounded for weather conditions — that he steeped himself in Thomas lore. That process included weight gain of almost “two stone” in order to depict Thomas in his appropriately bloated, alcoholic state.
“I listened to as much of his poetry on my phone as I could,” Hollander said, noting that he sought out all the recordings of Thomas he could find. “And I thought about all the alcoholics I’ve known. And I’ve known a few.”
Andrew Davies, the seasoned scribe behind the original “House of Cards,” among other projects, said that the specter of Thomas loomed large when he was a kid growing up in Wales.
“He just poured open his heart all over the place — magnificently, passionately, and yet he was suffering all the time,” Davies said. “I knew there was something to do (dramatically) with those two things.”
Davies made it clear that he wasn’t as interested in exploring the issues of addiction as he was telling the messy story of Thomas’ life.
Hollander closed out the session by reading a Thomas poem that was recently unearthed and will be published in a new collection in the fall. “Song” is a goofy ode to “the Buckingham Palace of booze.”
“He was yearning for a life he couldn’t live,” Hollander said. “He tried to but he paid the ultimate price for it.”
(Pictured: BBC America’s Richard De Croce and Andrew Davies)