IT’S REALLY not hard to see why the National Theatre would choose Michael Nardone to play Macbeth.

The authentic Fife accent apart, Nardone looks as hard as the coal his grandfather dug out of the local mines.

If you want an actor to play a decorated war hero who has just killed 100 men on the battlefield, he can’t suggest his last job was modelling for a knitting pattern.

But there’s more to Nardone than his formidable aura, displayed in the likes of his Black Watch sergeant role, the cops he’s played in several dramas including River City.

Or his ex-serviceman bodyguard character Frisky in international TV hit, The Night Manager.

When talking of how he landed perhaps the greatest Shakespearean role, it transpires Nardone also has the audacity of a daytime burglar, the inner calm of a Shaolin Monk - and the cool detachment of a brain surgeon.

“I was asked to come in and audition for the part of Macduff,” explains the actor of the Scottish play, with a knowing smile. “But when I met with director Rufus Norris I said I didn’t want to play Macduff. He looked at me in surprise and I explained; ‘Here’s why, Rufus. I’m more interested in playing Macbeth. I just know I’m right for that part.

“A few weeks later he asked me back for a chat and said ‘Are you serious about playing Macbeth?’ I said ‘Of course.’”

Does he believe his steeliness and conviction helped make the director’s mind up? “That’s exactly right,” says the actor. “The character has to be believable.”

What’s also taken Nardone to the heights of great theatre however is a sheer determination to survive in a business that often leaves talent for dead.

The actor, who attended the same Glenrothes youth theatre as Dougray Scott (and indeed was inspired by his chum’s Scott’s decision to go to drama school) believes profoundly in the notion if you keep turning up and taking on good work, you have a chance.

Yet, Nardone’s resolve has been tested along the way.

Back in 2005, and married with four children, Nardone was so desperate for work that when he saw an ad for Santa Claus in Center Parcs in Cumbria he confessed to wife Natalie he’d have to go for it.

“I reckoned that seven weeks of work in the lead up to Christmas would help out. But in the end I didn’t even get the part. When that happens you’re self-esteem goes crashing through the floor.”

The actor can smile now because the story had a happy Christmas ending.

One of the many auditions he’d attended in London in previous weeks paid off.

The day after the Santa rejection, Nardone took a call saying he’d landed a part in the BBC’s international sword and sandals epic, Rome. “I thought God, this is nuts! This just sums up this business. ‘And two days later I had a first class ticket on a flight to Italy.”

It was a fantastic job but afterwards he still faced hitching up and down the country to auditions, taking on the tiniest roles before Rome ran to a second series and Nardone’s role was expanded.

There were more lows. More hitching up and down the country. But some great highs.

When Nardone landed the Night Manager role, filming began at the top of the Matterhorn in Switzerland.

It was all a far cry from the time he opened a Taggart script he was set to appear in which read; ‘Interior; top of a Close in Maryhill. It’s freezing.’

“After the Matterhorn, the next moment I was in Spain,” says Nardone.

Yet, while the Night Manager was a world-wide success, sold on to 118 countries, success didn’t spill over onto the Balingry-born actor’s doorstep.

“I got great response and messages,” he recalls, “but if you’re asking me did casting directors suddenly go ‘There’s Nardone. Get him!’ No, I don’t think so. “

There’s been talk of a second series, but time he says is running on. “Yet, it was brilliant to be in it. Those sort of jobs don’t come along too often.”

Nor does the chance to play Macbeth. Nardone wasn’t in the original cast- the NT production in London starred Rory Kinnear as the Scottish king.

But while the Scot desperately wanted the chance to play the Scottish king, he was perhaps fortunate not to land the role at the time.

The critics didn’t quite murder Macbeth - but they left the production bleeding and seriously scarred. They argued that setting the play in a barbaric Mad Max-like world became a story about the cyclical nature of male violence.

And with the supernatural element was reduced, the debate about the effects of evil lost.

“Some of the criticism was fair, some not,” says Nardone of a production that has now been rejigged, the result producing standing ovations. “But for me to have this part, and play it in my own accent is amazing.”

Michael Nardone however may be the star of a hugely successful touring show, but in terms of future employment it means little.

“The run finishes at the end of March and I don’t know what I’ll do after that. It’s the reality of the business.”

He breaks into a wide smile; “But at the same time I want to give this play all my thought. What I have learned over the years is if you choose good work and give it your very best something usually happens.”

Right now, his role is to dominate his immediate world, keep his crazed wife in tow.

He breaks into a throaty laugh.

“Yes, there’s lot of maiming and flogging to be done. So I really need to focus.”

Macbeth, The Theatre Royal, February 19-23