JOHN Michie offers up a nice line during chat when we talk about the fickleness of acting life. “Acting is relatively easy,” he says, with a wry smile. “It’s not acting that’s hard.”

Yes, the waiting to be decided upon. To be selected. Michie isn’t complaining however. He’s had a ten year run in Taggart, great stints in the likes of Holby City and Coronation Street, and he’s played the theatre range in major halls up and down the country.

But like most actors he’s also had to endure stints of waiting for the agent to ring.

Right now however that’s not the case. The North London-based actor is appearing at Glasgow’s Oran Mor in a new play The Mack, by Rob Drummond.

READ MORE: The Mack fire on stage: new play addresses human impact of the fires at the Glasgow School of Art

Yet, many high profile actors can become a little sniffy when offered Oran Mors. Michie could have been forgiven for reaching for the hanky?

“Yes, I was one of those actors,” he says, with a wry smile. “Sometimes people panic about the short time allocated to the likes of technical runs. But if we think about it, you have two weeks rehearsal time for what really is half a play, that is an hour on stage rather than two, for a full play.”

He adds; “It also depends on the project, the work status at the moment. Lots of things come into it.”

You wonder if one of those things is the recent tragedy he endured, the much-reported loss of his daughter?

Being busy, becoming someone else for a few weeks would seem to make sense? “Yes, well, it’s not a great time to be away from home,” he says in soft voice, “and I have turned down a few projects that required me to be away. But I like to come back to Scotland as does Carol (his wife). And April was free. So why not?”

Rob Drummond’s writing however was a major pull in the direction of Oran Mor. “I really rate him and wanted to do another play with him (having worked on Grain In The Blood three years ago.”

The Mack is story of the Art School fires, both of them, played out from the perspectives of a fire chief, (Michie) a Mackintosh expert (Janet Coulson) and Charles Rennie Mackintosh himself (James McAnerney).

“My crew commander goes on a journey,” he explains. “From being an experienced, macho fire fighter,  he endures a personal disintegration half way through the play, which I suppose mirrors the collapse of the Mack itself.”

The play asks a huge question; around 120 firefighters were sent in to the building when the first fire broke out in 2014 . But there was no one to be rescued. “To save art,” says the actor. “It’s an existential question about the value of life and art?”

It’s a great premise for a play, set alight by Drummond pitting the thoughts of Mackintosh himself with the fire chief and the Mackintosh-obsessed expert.

What of John Michie’s career aheead. ? In the summer he’s heading back to Africa to become a Brigadier in the Michelle Keegan-fronted Our Girl.

READ MORE: The Mack isn’t just a building. It’s more than that - playwright Rob Drummond on the fire at Glasgow School of Art

He admits while he was once driven, he is more philosophical these days. “To be honest, I try not to think about it too much," he says of future plans. "I’ve realised that in life you can try hard to make things happen, to keep your profile up. But you can be lucky or unlucky.

“I’ve had little forays back into Holby recently, but it’s also been a good time to be at home.”

Burma-born John Michie (his dad was a banker, his family later relocated to Edinburgh) smiles as he agrees he has changed a great deal from the 1980 days when he was a 22 year-old taking on his first acting job in a Nairobi theatre.

“I was much more ambitious then. When you are a young actor you think you are bound for Hollywood. That’s the naivety of youth."

Then when you have the talks with the Hollywood agent you realised they have the attention span of brain-dead goldfish. 

Did early school life – he was sent to boarding school when his parents lived in Kenya – steel him for the tougher demands of life ahead?

“I don’t think any boarding school experience, living in a dormitory, is conducive to a healthy mind,” he maintains. “What it does is teach you to suppress emotion, and that’s not a good thing.”

He offers a wry grin; “I suppose being an actor helps you to let the suppressed emotion out.”

Does he appreciate acting more as he gets older? (He’s 62). He takes a moment and smiles. “I think you are more aware of the cathartic quality of it all.”

The interview with John Michie over, we meet, by chance, two days later. And he reveals a recent incident that underlines the fickleness of acting life. "I took a call from my agent just after we spoke. He told me the producers of Our Girl were bringing the project forward. They want me in Africa next week to begin filming."

There's a dilemma. Most actors however would take off to Africa. They know there's thousands of pounds at stake. And they wish to be considered for future work in the series. They wouldn't want to see their character replaced. 

As for the Oran Mor play? Well, the producers could draft in another actor and try and rush them through a truncated  rehearsal period. It's happened before. 

"I couldn't do that to the cast and the producers of The Mack," he says. 

"I would be letting them down, and I'd feel really bad about it."

John Michie has stepped back from major TV work and a small fortune to appear on a small theatre stage for a few hundred quid a week. Those who watch John Michie star in The Mack this week will not only enjoy the chance to see a major British star up there on stage, but a man whose principles match his talent. 

The Mack, Glasgow’s Oran Mor until Saturday