Line of Duty star Adrian Dunbar just opened up about battling imposter syndrome and why he’s glad he found success later in life.
As Superintendent Ted Hastings in Jed Mercurio’s Line of Duty, he’s a force to be reckoned with throughout Anti Corruption Unit 12, but Adrian Dunbar hasn’t always felt like a commanding officer in his own life.
Growing up in Northern Ireland at the height of the Troubles, Dunbar talked to How To Fail’s Elizabeth Day about how his environment of low employment and expectations meant he placed limitations on his own future.
Though he was a “smart” child, Dunbar says he struggled throughout school.
“It’s an interesting dynamic – when you are scared of something, you sabotage it because you don’t believe it’s a space you can occupy,” he said. “But time and time again you prove that’s not the case.”
He also spoke to Day about the power of societal and class expectations, and how they made him question whether he was worthy. Although he was expected to follow five generations of his family into a trade, Dunbar eventually won a place at a drama college where he began to explore new possibilities and a different life in London.
But when his father passed away suddenly from a brain haemorrhage, he had to make a decision whether to step away from drama school and return home. “I thought, if I step back now, I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to finish. I said, you’ve got to try and see this thing through. You can’t help by going back, you have to help by going forward.”
On the podcast he also spoke about the “failing” at parenting, telling how a distant relationship with his own father meant that he struggled to understand what his role was as a dad.
Speaking about his own experience of fatherhood, Dunbar opened up about the difficulties bringing up his daughter and step-son, alongside his wife, actress Anna Nygh, admitting that he found it hard to share himself with his children. Now, though, he says they’ve “all come out the other side loving one another more after all we’ve been through – it’s the best we could’ve hoped for collectively”.
With the country gripped by how season 6 of Line of Duty will unfold, he spoke about handling the attention the role has brought, including being recognised on the street by police officers.
Discussing the show’s popularity, he told Day that he wasn’t able to take success seriously when he was young. “I think the success coming at this [later] stage of my career is really good for me, because I’m ready for it and ready to deal with it.”
How To Fail With Elizabeth Day: Adrian Dunbar is available to listen to now