YOU check out Andy Clark’s fingernails as he picks up his coffee cup.

They’re not bleeding and broken, there’s no sign of a man who has scratched his way continually up the cliff face of success.

So you wonder; how he has he managed to become own of Scotland most in-demand theatre actors? Yes, the talent has been obvious; he’s demonstrated a great comedy bent in the likes of Tartuffe, The Libertine and while Dameing it up in panto, he’s shown his dramatic chops in Hamlet, cop drama A Steady Rain and in BBC soap River City.

But what gives him that extra edge? A clue emerges when the Blairdowrie-born actor talks on the subject of accents. “I remember when once auditioning for Frankie and Johnny and going into a café beforehand and using an American accent to order a coffee,” he recalls with a slight shudder. “And once, going up for a part in Gary: Tank Commander, they wanted a Scouser so I went into a café in Maryhill Road (in Glasgow) and ordered a roll and tattie scone, as a Scouser. From there I went into the audition and met actor Jake D’Arcy and continued with the accent.” He grins and shakes his head. “Looking back I was a complete d**k.”

Clark, you learn, is very much connected to Earth. “Gordon Jackson used to say acting is a job you go to. That’s what I believe. You know, I’ve recently heard of an actor who was going off to America for six months but said he had to do a voice over job using his own accent now, because after this he would speak only American. Unbelievable.” He smiles “That’s not acting, that’s schizophrenia.” So he’s not a fan of Method acting, whereby to play Hamlet he had to imagine his Ma in a way nature never intended? “No,” he says, grinning. “I go along with playwright David Mamet who said if you could become someone else like that there would be no unhappiness in the world because you could manufacture a complete persona.”

We’re talking accents and immersion because Clark is appearing in Dusty Won’t Play. It’s the story of the singing legend’s trip 1964 to South Africa where she to play to segregated audiences and finds herself demonised and threatened by South Africa’s security police.

Clark’s role demands a South African accent. “I’ve been listening to YouTube, and it’s okay,” he says of his efforts. “The only problem is most of the South African accents you hear tend to be from right wing supremacists.”

Andy Clark is manages to be totally committed to the acting life, but not defined by it. He certainly doesn’t need fame. He wants to be out there acting, in the widest range of roles, to play three dimensional characters.

In fact, he reveals he decided to leave River City after a year and a half, which is unusual. Most actors in Scotland cling to the guarantee of regular soap work like a struggling politician holds onto cliché excuses. “I learned I didn’t enjoy the attention, walking down Argyle street and getting you photo taken,” he says of his soap stint. “I want to be under the radar, a Jonathan Pryce who can walk down the road in a bunnet and no one knows who they are.”

He adds; “Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed it while I was there, but I made the decision but I didn’t want to become dependent on it.”

Clark was asked to go back by River City producers – to be killed off. “I was doing a show at the Lyceum at the time and didn’t want to travel back for two scenes. Plus, you need the build up to have an effect.” He laughs; “But I later got a text from an actress who was playing my ex-wife saying she was at my TV funeral, and she sent me a pic of a coffin with my photo on it. I was going to put it up on Facebook with the caption; ‘This is what happens when you ask the BBC for a pay rise’.”

Clark, who will appear at the Fringe in Liz Lochhead’s Tartuffe this summer, has learned how to handle the the business. “When I landed a role in The Da Vinci Code I turned up on set on the first day and there was Tom Hanks, Audrey Tautou and Dan Brown. They were all really nice but it was surreal. Then I realised the screen writer had changed my words. I was a bag of nerves. I was too young.”

Clark’s passion for theatre began, interestingly enough, at church.

The teenage Andrew was enticed into the world of acting by his local minister. “His sermons were great. He was funny and brilliant orator but he was also the panto dame every year and at 14 I appeared in Jack and the Beanstalk with the Blairgowrie Players. I loved it.”

Intent to purse the thespian life was confirmed a year later in 1990 when he watched a performance of George and the Marvellous Medicine Show.

After drama college however, the work didn’t immediately avalanche on top of the young actor. “I did some Theatre In Education work, but I couldn’t seem to land a proper theatre job. I was getting close in auditions, but nothing.

“Then I got a recall for Decky Does A Bronco ( Douglas Maxwell’s 2000 rites of passage play) and I was told I’d get an answer by the close of business on Friday. At two minutes to six I was climbing the walls. I needed the validation that someone out there believed in me as a professional actor.

“However, the phone rang and I was told I was in. it was an incredible feeling.”

Now’s he’s in Dusty, in which he stars alongside Frances Thorburn and Kevin Lennon, playing guitar as a musician. Another string to his bow. But what’s his take on working continually? What does he put it down to? “I’m low maintenance,” he says, grinning. “Highly unlikely to kick off.”

Dusty Won’t Play, Oran Mor, Glasgow, until Saturday.