ALMOST 40 years since he first broke hearts as Michael Carrington in Grease 2, Maxwell Caulfield is preparing to tour the country in a new production of Alfred Hitchcock’s classic The Lady Vanishes.

And while Mold might be a million miles away from Rydell High School, treading the boards across the UK’s provincial theatres is somewhere the 59-year-old actor feels right at home.

“We had a lovely opening last night at the famous Theatre Royal in Bath,” says Maxwell. “It dates back to the mid-18th century, so it’s quite a contrast to Theatr Clwyd, where I’ve played before and loved.

“We started out in Windsor a few weeks ago and then we got the gremlins out in Southend and now we’re really starting to roll down the tracks really nicely.

“It’s a tight little company and it’s a rollicking good yarn with a host of good characters.”

Hitchcock’s thriller begins with a group of train travellers holed up in a hotel in a fictional European country, where young Iris befriends elderly Miss Froy.

When the train resumes, Iris suffers a bout of unconsciousness and wakes to find the old woman has disappeared. The other passengers ominously deny Miss Froy ever existed, so Iris begins to investigate with another traveller and, as the pair sleuth, romantic sparks fly.

“My character, Dr Hartz, is an Austrian surgeon and he appears to be the one neutral in the whole situation,” explains Maxwell. “The two leads are Matt Barber, who was in Downton Abbey, and Lorna Fitzgerald who is kind of reinventing herself with this role because you couldn’t get further from the character of Abi Branning in EastEnders.”

Maxwell is full of praise for the former soap star and as a veteran of programmes like The Colbys, Dynasty and Emmerdale, he knows a thing or two about starring in them.

“As you get older you do tend to see the generation below and the mistakes they may be heading towards,” he laughs. “We all live and learn and anyway, if you give young people advice they’ll do the exact opposite.

“The theatre is a bit different though: I’ve been blessed to work with some tremendous actors over the years and consequently you do pick up a combination of their professionalism, their expertise and their craft.

“The fun thing about theatre is it is organic and you’re constantly evolving and fine tuning yourself. In film and TV it’s very much the editor and the director who determine the trajectory of your character.

“On stage you’re in the moment and the audience is an excellent barometer. I got typecast as a bit of a glossy TV actor but in the theatre you get to prove yourself.

“It’s a blessed profession but a cursed one too, as luck is such a huge factor in this game.”

Maxwell has been quoted as saying: “Before Grease 2 came out, I was being hailed as the next Richard Gere or John Travolta. However, when Grease 2 flopped, nobody would touch me. It felt like a bucket of cold water had been thrown in my face. It took me 10 years to get over Grease 2.”

“I’ve had bouts of good fortune and I’ve gone through my own share of despondency,” he continues. “The advice I’d give to any up and coming actor is be the master of your own destiny and don’t be totally reliant on the industry.

“Use your down time to write and be creative and always try to remain in an artistic frame of mind - even if you have to go off and wash dishes in a Chinese restaurant. Now you can see why I don’t give the kids advice - I don’t know when to stop!”

One area where Maxwell has definitely been lucky is his personal life and The Lady Vanishes sees him act alongside his wife Juliet Mills, the daughter of actor Sir John Mills, who he married in 1980, when he was just 21 and she was 19 years his senior.

“We actually met after we were cast together in a production of The Elephant Man,” says Maxwell. “We fell in love and have acted together numerous times now but not nearly enough for my tastes as I love working with her.

“I would say our marriage is my number one accomplishment. Sustaining the marriage has been easy because Juliet is an adorable woman and a devoted wife but the industry is fraught with pitfalls and you can spend a lot of time away from each other and get thrown together opposite very attractive people in far flung locations.

“I have to say that’s happening far less as I get older but Juliet was remarkable the way she saw off all comers and nobody was ever considered competition!”

Both Maxwell and Juliet have acted at Theatr Clwyd before and they’re looking forward to a return trip, although he is keen to stress there’s a lot of work involved in touring a production like The Lady Vanishes.

“We love to tour and see the land of our birth,” adds Maxwell. “Neither of us knew Wales terribly well but we’re getting a lot better. I would say the greatest thing in life is if you can travel with someone you love, so we feel very fortunate. And of course we’re getting paid for it!

“It’s not like we can go off hiking all day and have a pub lunch and put our feet up.

“You have to gear your whole day towards being at the peak of your performance come 8pm when most people are having their dinner and flicking through the TV guide.”

The Lady Vanishes is at Theatr Clwyd, in the Anthony Hopkins Theatre, from February 4-9. For more information or to book tickets visit or phone 01352 701521.