What’s the best idea you’ve had that you found out already existed?
I’m not sure you could call most of the ideas that have gone through my head “the best” of anything…
What’s your trick for remembering people’s names?
What book or movie took you the most tries to start and finish?
Probably a curriculum book when I was at school. I remember Great Expectations being particularly uninviting.
When was the closest you ever came to breaking character onstage?
I was in a play and the guy playing the lead was, at a critical moment for his character, supposed to give me a piece of paper that revealed he was leaving home and his family for good. He forgot the piece of paper one night so instead tore off a tiny piece of his cigarette packet and thrust it into my hands. I’ll never forget the look on his face.
If you could hypothetically read anyone’s journal from history whose would you pick?
Michael Malloy’s, for some tips on staying alive.
If you had to pick any writer to do a treatment on your life, who would you pick and what type of treatment would they write?
A series of story poems written by Charles Bukowski.
When Robert De Niro had to gain weight for Raging Bull he went to Italy and France to eat. If you had to gain 60 lbs for a role, what and where would you eat?
I would take a road trip through Puglia and eat at every restaurant I passed.
Would you rather watch the footage of every one of your performances ever or retake every single exam from school again?
I’d go on the run before doing either. But probably the exams.
If you could do a scene with any actor, directed by any director, who would you pick?
I’d be in a scene with Nina Hoss directed by Jacques Audiard.
You’ve appeared in two highly autobiographical plays by comparable masters of playwriting, Eugene O’Neil in Long Day’s Journey Into Night, and Tennessee Williams’s The Glass Menagerie. How apparent is it to you when you are playing something autobiographical and how much does it alter your preparation or performance?
Because I was playing a real person in Long Day’s Journey Into Night, I felt the weight of Eugene O’Neill’s life quite palpably. I’d done a lot of research and visited Tao House out in California. One of the tragic things about that play is that it’s incredibly autobiographical, as is The Glass Menagerie; it’s difficult to forgot you’re presenting someone’s history onstage.
You’ve worked on stage and in film in the UK and the States. In your experience, what production had the best wrap party?
The best wrap parties never happen at the wrap party.
You made your Broadway debut in a revival of Cyrano de Bergerac. What is the best and/or worst advice you’ve ever been given about making a good romantic impression on someone?
I must have been told by some doofus I looked up to when I was a kid that if you liked a girl, you should ignore them. I’m telling you, the amount of girls that I really liked and still don’t know about it would make you cringe.
Much of your work recently is historically based: Poldark, The Hollow Crown: The War of the Roses, as well as The Keeping Room. Which projects historical focus did you learn the most about over the course of the role?
I probably learned the most about the late 18th Century in England, through Poldark. It’s not a period I was particularly familiar with, let alone the varying aspects Cornish society.
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