I recorded the audiobook of The Mermaids Singing by Val McDermid
I went to Budapest, Hungary immediatley after wrapping Buddy to shoot For My Baby. This was a really intense experience in every way. I played Daniel Ogelbrand, an Austrian-Jewish stand-up comedian whose parents are Holocaust survivors and whose sister was killed in the a concentration camp during the war. Juliet Aubrey played my girlfiend from America who I get pregnant and who we begin to discover has a horrible family connection to my sister. Oh yes, I forgot the bit about me dressing up in women's clothing each week and pretending to be my sister when I go to visit my mother who is confined to a hospital bed.
The film was directed by Rudolf Van Den Berg, who I'd previously almost worked with on a film based on the Orestia which I was going to do with Fiona Shaw in Tunisia, but at the last minute the money fell out and it never happened. Rudolf was as intense as the script, but I really enjoyed the experience of going to dark and unchartered waters with him.
The film was released in Europe, but in America its title was changed to Goodnight Vienna for its video release. It was shot in Budapest, Hungary. Lots of really weird things happened to me personally during shooting which I suppose only added to the air of hysteria and anxiety that Daniel has in the story. Also I was staying in a hotel in Budapest which had been Nazi HQ during the war, so that was strange too.
Caroline Thompson, who I had previously worked with onBlack Beauty, wrote and directed Buddy - a film about a New York socialite in the 1920s whose menagerie of animals expanded to include a baby gorilla, Buddy.
Rene Russo was the leading lady and I played her assistant, Dick Kroener. I just loved making this film. My character looked after the chimps in the story, and so I spent every day for a few months cuddling chimps. I was like their nanny for the summer. It was such an amazing thing to do. By the time the film finished they were grooming me and playing with me in ways that they only do with other chimps. I was very honoured. One chimp in particular called Tonka became really attached to me. I loved him. It was horrible when I had to go, trying to explain to him that I wouldn't see him for a long time. But I have two pictures that he painted in my possession.
I later saw him in the Babe sequel playing a girl. Showbiz, baby.
In a gap from shooting Romy and Michele's High School Reunion in Los Angeles, I went with my then girlfriend, Saffron Burrows, to Palm Springs to shoot a report for the BBC Travel Show.
Romy and Michele's High School Reunion was the first film I made in the US, indeed the first time I'd ever worked in any capacity in the US. It was also the first time I had ever played an American character on film. I still can't understand why they cast me!!
It's actually amazing to me how this film struck a chord with people all over the world, but especially in America. For me, it was a total revelation, because I had never been to a prom or a reunion ever in my life. We don't have them in Scotland. The film climaxes in a dance between me and Lisa Kudrow and Mira Sorvino (for which we were nominated for a MTV movie award, thank you very much), which has also become really iconic.
I was seriously busking it in terms of my understanding of the jokes and references in the script. Luckily my character, Sandy Frink, was similarly challenged. He is the geeky boy at high school with Romy and Michele who returns in Michele's dreams, and finally really appears at the high school reunion in a helicopter, having become very rich after discovering a new form of rubber. As you do.
I can't tell you how naive I was. At the read-through an actor pronouced 'Tucson' (where the film is set) correctly and I snorted, thinking that they had made a sort of joke because I really thought it was pronounced 'Tuck-son'. Then the next person said it and I realised I was the one who had it wrong!!
Here are two clips...first of all my favourite scene, the one which flashes forward and Lisa and I are old people. I just love my turkey neck.
And secondly the famous dance scene (performed to the music of Ms Cyndi Lauper, who I would work with many years later).