“Irishman” star Stephen Graham is getting into the production business.
The British actor tells Variety that he has set up a production company entitled Matriarch Productions, which he is to run with his wife, the actor Hannah Walters – a close collaborator on all of Graham’s projects.
The business, which is currently based out of Leicestershire, where the couple lives, is to give a platform to underrepresented voices and stories out of the U.K.
Graham, who grew up outside Liverpool, first found fame through star turns in gritty dramas such as Shane Meadows’ “This Is England” and Jimmy McGovern’s “Accused.”
Though he has gone on to star in studio fare such as “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides” and the forthcoming Marvel entry “Venom 2,” he says he is selective about the roles he pursues, and won’t turn his back on portraying working-class characters in British drama.
“We hope to develop stories that give young and first-time writers and directors an opportunity, and try to develop good stories that will be a broader representation of the cultural aspects of our society,” he says, adding that the pair is also mindful of improving representation behind the scenes on Matriarch projects.
“We want to give opportunities to people who wouldn’t otherwise. For example, someone who would never be (considered for a role as) the head of a department, but is an amazing make-up artist. So, to then say (to them), ‘How about you step up on this one?’”
The duo is currently building out a development slate that will span film and TV drama, and will aim to get its first projects off the ground by the end of the year.
Matriarch also has a non-fiction project in the works, says Graham, adding that a “menagerie” of ideas is ready to go.
“The Irishman” marked Graham’s third project with director Martin Scorsese, following on from “Gangs Of New York” and “Boardwalk Empire.” He is currently filming “Venom 2” in the U.K. with Tom Hardy and Woody Harrelson.
In the U.K., the actor last year starred in Channel 4’s critically acclaimed drama “The Virtues.”
Graham is represented by Jane Epstein at Independent Talent Group in the U.K. and ICM Partners and Link Entertainment in the U.S.