1.When did you first Act? And what was it?
My mate Dexter Fletcher’s mum was an agent and she told me about this punk theatre group that was auditioning for members. I was a teddy boy back then. I phoned up to see if I could get a meeting. They asked if I knew what punk theatre was. I said I didn’t and they hung up! I called back pretending to be someone else. That led to a lot of fringe work in places like the original Half Moon Theatre (ironically, we’re rehearsing The Gift of the Gab at the Half Moon) and pubs and clubs. So, I cut my teeth on that before I applied to drama school.
2. What or who was your greatest inspiration?
There are loads of political and historical figures, but in terms of acting, I’d have to say Brando, Paul Newman, Jimmy Dean.
3. What professional training have you had? Do you think it was relevant?
I gained a place at RADA and it totally changed my life. I had a fantastic time there. Two and a half years hanging out with people my own age exploring plays most of which I had never heard of before. It helped me land an agent. I’ve been with the same agency for 30 years, longer than any of the agents that work there! Without drama school my life was heading nowhere fast.
4. What has been your favourite part/play/production?
Besides ‘Gift’? Patrick Marber’s ‘Dealers Choice’. A play with characters loosely based on me, my brother, people I knew and a poker game we used to play in together. It’s brilliantly written, touching, sad and extremely funny.
5. What has been the most wonderful thing you’ve seen on the pub theatre circuit?
When I’m not working I’m busy raising my kids, so I don’t get a chance to see much at all!
6. Pub theatre is having something of a renaissance. Why do think this is?
It’s where the new, challenging, exciting work is being made so it attracts great talent. And it’s reasonably priced so it’s a more affordable night at the theatre.
7. Where would you like to be in ten years time?
In terms of career, I just want to keep doing good work. It’s about the writing and working with good people whether that’s in theatre, film or television. Money is important of course, but for me it’s not about that. It’s not about scale either. It’s just about making great work
8. Tell us something about yourself that nobody else would know?
I would love to let the readers into some saucy secret – but if there is anything, it is probably because I’d rather keep it to myself!
9. What is the song that most moves you?
There are 2 Jimmy Cliff songs – ‘The Harder They Come’ and ‘You Can Get It if You Really Want It’. I didn’t have the greatest education, in fact I’d all but stopped going to school at 14. The only class I went to was Drama. I remember the careers’ officer laughed at me when I said I wanted to be an actor, he said the best I could hope for would be a job at Enco’s the local packing factory Tufnell Park. I remember thinking ‘I’m going to show these people’ and dancing round my room to Jimmy Cliff. Just thinking about it now gives me goose bumps! In fact, my girlfriend has bought me tickets to see him this year along with a back stage pass so I can shake his hand and say thanks!
10. Musical, comedy, drama? What would you choose?
Musicals definitely not! No one would want to pay to hear me sing. If I had to pick one, it would be comedy. Its where I started. To make friends as a kid, I would do impersonations; Frank Spencer and Tommy Cooper. Comedy gives you instant feedback. I like black comedies like ‘Gift of the Gab’, comedies with real weight and substance.
11. The crime you would carry out if you could get away with it?
Does assassinating Donald Trump count as a crime? If so that’s the one!
12. The happiest moment of your life?
Obvious answer is the birth of my children – but that aside, a day I will never forget was opening that letter from RADA. I was in my basement flat in Archway, in my bed. I knew where the letter was from. I remember the agonising moment, taking my time to open it and seeing the first line, ‘We are happy to tell you...’ All my dreams come true!
13. The saddest moment of your life?
Saddest moments have been losing my sister to cancer when she was only 42 and losing my Dad. Nothing can replace family. We were very close, good friends. I was the youngest of 4 – all my early memories are being surrounded by my family.
14. What historical figures would you invite to a dinner party?
Lauren Bacall, Marilyn Monroe, Richard Pryor, Che Guevara,
Micky Flanagan and Colin, my dad.
15. How would you like to be remembered?
I don’t mind how I am remembered. As long as I am!