Hugh Dancy flew across the rink, gliding from one foot to the subsequent atop the black matting. The wind tousled his hair, the sample on his houndstooth blazer blurring as he picked up velocity.
“It’s stopping that’s the issue,” Mr. Dancy mentioned, with typical self-deprecation, as he handed.
A star of the revived “Law & Order,” through which he performs a diligent assistant district legal professional, and of the newest “Downton Abbey” movie, Mr. Dancy, 46, had come to the Rink at Rockefeller Center to pursue a pastime that predates his love of appearing: roller-skating.
At his boarding faculty, the Dragon School in Oxford, England, boys spent half the yr enjoying tennis and the opposite half roller-skating throughout the tennis courts. “There were a couple of kids who were extremely good at it,” Mr. Dancy mentioned. “And then, the rest of us.”
He largely remembers mendacity in a row whereas a daredevil classmate — “the Evel Knievel of my 10-year-old peer group,” Mr. Dancy recalled — jumped over them.
Mr. Dancy — charming, self-possessed, self-effacing — has not often skated since. But on a latest sun-drenched Tuesday morning he determined to attempt once more, largely to see if he ought to take his sons, 9 and three, on a future journey. (They reside within the West Village neighborhood of Manhattan, together with Mr. Dancy’s spouse, the actress Claire Danes.)
He arrived on the rink simply earlier than 10 a.m., paid the $20 admission price (plus $10 for skate rental) and affixed to his blazer an entry sticker that doubled as a legal responsibility waiver. In the locker room, he traded his Adidas sneakers for a good-looking pair of the rink’s blue suede skates, pulling the pink laces tight. He stood up from the bench and took a couple of exploratory steps.
“This is not all coming flooding back,” he mentioned, tottering barely. Tottering a little bit extra, he made his method towards the rink. “What an embarrassing procession,” he added.
An worker of the rink, Demis Maryannakis, gave him a couple of pointers as he handed. “Arms out,” he known as. “Knees bent!”
Mr. Dancy started to skate, regularly lengthening his strides as he picked up velocity. Mr. Maryannakis appeared on approvingly, shouting, “You’re awesome!”
Was everybody all the time this good to him? “They know I’m about to injure myself,” Mr. Dancy mentioned.
Tourists watched him whiz across the rink, one in every of about eight skaters. Some took cellphone pictures of him, although a number of struggled to place him. “He is ridiculously handsome,” one lady puzzled aloud. “Is he from ‘Glee’?” Another guessed the procedural “NCIS.” Wrong once more.
Mr. Maryannakis didn’t fare higher. “Totally forget his name,” he mentioned.
That nobody may establish Mr. Dancy is probably a tribute to his emotional shape-shifting and his considerably eclectic profession. With his floppy hair and posh accent, he appeared destined for interval items and the occasional rom-com. He made these.
Looking up from the rink at 30 Rockefeller Plaza, he remembered capturing a kissing scene from the 2009 comedy “Confessions of a Shopaholic” on one in every of its terraces. But he has additionally acted in loads of modern dramas and even the occasional motion film, together with “Black Hawk Down,” normally with an American accent.
“I’ve been able to work in my own accent here, but only onstage,” he mentioned.
From 2013 to 2015, he starred as an F.B.I. profiler on the NBC crime collection “Hannibal.” That present — beautiful, lurid and violent — made his present job, on the orderly procedural “Law & Order,” really feel comforting in contrast. His flip as a filmmaker within the newest “Downton Abbey” film felt restful, too.
“I had played increasingly dark characters,” Mr. Dancy mentioned. “So I was actually quite happy to play somebody who is basically not.”
That morning, the rink’s pink lights turned his complexion rosy. He started to check out some fancy footwork, crossing a leg behind the opposite as he skated previous the gold Prometheus statue, which glittered within the solar. The fringe of the rink delivered electrical shocks when touched, an inducement to maintain skating. Blondie performed over the audio system, then Prince.
“Prime skating music,” Mr. Dancy remarked.
Dispassionately, he assessed his skills: “I’m a moderately coordinated 46-year-old,” he mentioned. “The coordination I’ve always just assumed was somewhat innate turns out to be a little shakier than I had planned on.”
Would he try a spin? “Not deliberately,” he mentioned, wiping his forehead. “This is exhausting.”
Another rink worker had a extra forgiving evaluation. “He has a perfect mind-set,” Daniel Carr mentioned as he watched Mr. Dancy skate. “And he has great balance, great crossover. He bends his knees, he’s focused.”
Mr. Carr then supplied the final word praise. “You’re a very fashionable skater,” he mentioned to Mr. Dancy. “When you look good, you feel good.”
Mr. Dancy felt good. So good that he determined to return to the rink later within the spring along with his two boys. He requested Mr. Carr if the rink supplied classes and was happy to study that it did. “I feel this is a dress rehearsal,” Mr. Dancy mentioned.
Even as he mentioned it, another person’s little one caromed previous him, skating at twice Mr. Dancy’s tempo. He smiled ruefully, maybe recalling his daredevil classmate. “My general experience in these things is being shown up by children,” he mentioned.