Pat O'Connor directed this film version of Maeve Binchy's novel, Circle of Friends, set in rural Ireland in the 1950s.
I played Sean Walsh, the slimy suitor of Minnie Driver's Benny, who worked in her father's clothing shop. The film also starred Chris O'Donnell, Colin Firth, Saffron Burrows and Geraldine O'Rawe. It was shot in Kilkenny and Dublin.
I really enjoyed this film. Pat is great, and it was a really lovely cast. I was going through a rough time personally so it was great for me to be away in the countryside, working hard and having fun with new friends on location. And Sean Walsh was just so slimy and awful - I loved playing him. People still come up to me in the street and start talking about the double entry system!!
I made my first foray into Hollywod with this film. I went to LA for the press junkets and the premiere, and shortly after that I started being offered work in the US. So Circle of Friends was another of those life-changing jobs
During the filming of Circle of Friends, I returned to London and recorded the voice of Black Beauty in the film of the same name. Yes, I am beauty.
The great thing about doing this movie was meeting the writer/director Caroline Thompson, who has become a really great friend of mine and many of my friends. Infact it turns out she is one of my best friend's cousins!!
It was quite an odd thing to do, to narrate a whole film as a horse, but I just thought of it in the same way as I do about every part: pretend to be someone else (or some species else) and mean it.
I went on to work with Caroline in 1996 in her film, Buddy, and I hope to continue to work with her till we are both old and grey. Oh wait, we already are.
It was Black Beauty that first took me to America, actually. I was flown over just before the film was released to do some last minute changes. I must be one of the only people who can say they came to America on the back of a horse.
Butter, is a short film that I wrote and directed. It was my directorial debut and I was really lucky to have a great friend, Dixie Linder, to produce it and a bunch of really great actor friends to be in it and help me bring it to fruition.
Originally I wrote Butter as a short one woman piece that was performed as part of a trio of plays called Listen, I'm Talking at the RSC Fringe Festival in Newcastle in 1990.
I am really fascinated by food issues, I have had them myself, and I think there is a huge problem in the way people can seek their own happiness, desirability and self-worth through or via food. I had listened to many people's stories and anecdotes and finally I put pen to paper and Butter was the result. Also, like Jane in the film, I equate comfort with mashed potatoes, so that's why they play such an important part!
Jane (who was played by my ex-wife Hilary Lyon) has an eating problem. She has bought and prepared a feast for an unseen date who calls in sick and sends her spiraling round London, visiting friends and revisiting old habits. The film also stars Jane Horrocks, Helena Bonham Carter, Richard E. Grant, Richard Wilson, Susan Wooldridge, Andy de la Tour, and me myself in a cameo as Jane's secretary. The film premiered at the Edinburgh Festival in 1994 and played at many other film festivals before being shown on Channel 4 TV.
Part of a series of BBC TV films under the collective title Ghosts, The Chemistry Lesson was written and directed by Terry Johnson.
I play a Chemistry teacher named Phillip Goodall who is in love with his co-worker Mandy, played by Samantha Bond. But when his love for her is not requited, he devises a very unusual way to change her mind.
The film also starred British film legend Sylivia Sims, Jack Klaff (who had co-written the play It's Not The End of The World which I toured Scotland with in 1987), Louise Rea and Julia Ford (whom I had worked with in Knickers at Bristol Old Vic in 1989). I later appeared alongside Samantha Bond in the James Bond movie Goldeneye, a year later.
I had admired Terry Johnson's work in his plays Insignificance and Hysteria, so I was really delighted to get to work with him. The film was originally more about sexual obsession, so Sam and I became pretty intimate shooting some of the sex scenes - a lot of which ended up on the cutting room floor, due to the BBC censors. There's nothing worse than having a sex scene cut! You feel you went through all that stress for nothing! But even so, it was a really interesting idea, and it was great to be in something so radically different coming right out of shooting The High Life!
Kander and Ebb's musical based on Christopher Isherwood's books, Goodbye to Berlin and Mr. Norris Changes Trains, was revived at the Donmar Warehouse in London, opening in December 1993.
Sam Mendes directed me as The Emcee, and Jane Horrocks as Sally Bowles. The production set the action in the actual cabaret club - the audience in the downstairs of the theatre were seated at tables and could have drinks during the action. Also, the true seediness and decadence of the time was evoked by the cast of actors and musicians.
We did a lot of research on getting the feel of life in those clubs in Berlin in the late 20s/early 30s. I only wanted to do the part if it was going to be an authentic look at what it was really like to be alive then, to be a part of a decadent world that ultimately disappeared. I wanted to be dirty and to be shocking, and to look like a drug addict, and to scare people and enchant them at the same time. It was a very scary thing for me, as I had never done any other big musicals before, and here I was doing one in the West End with the audience right up against me. It was also kind of foolhardy because I was so exhausted by Hamlet, and I rehearsed Cabaret during the day while performing Hamlet at night. But I am so glad I did it for so many reasons. It felt great to do something so different and very liberating to be so exposed - literally!
I was nominated for Best Actor in a Musical at the 1994 Olivier Awards, and the show was taped and broadcast on ITV.
I played the title role in Shakespeare's tragedy for the English Touring Theatre.
The production toured England and ended up in London at the Donmar Warehouse. I won the Martini Rossi TMA award for Best Actor, and was also nominated for the Richard Burton Award at the Shakespeare Globe Awards.
This was a huge thing for me. I'd never really wanted to do Hamlet, and it only came about when Tilda Swinton pulled out of the planned production of Miss Julie that I was going to do with Steve Unwin (the director). It really changed my life. I don't think anyone can play Hamlet without him affecting you in a really primal way. The part deals with such universal and yet personal things: your relationship with your parents, dealing with the death of a parent (and as I felt it, dealing with the death of a parent you didn't like very much), wanting to get away from home and back to your friends, university and your own life, trying to cope with your girlfriend suddenly dumping you when you are feeling really low for no apparent reason - as well as some issues that thinking about or exploring even on a very superficial level can be incredibly upsetting and haunting, e.g. wondering whether or not to kill yourself, and how to deal with your father's ghost coming to you and telling you to avenge his death! But even though it was the biggest challenge of my life to play (and sustain playing) this part, I am so grateful to have had the chance, because it really did change my life. It also eventually made me feel much more relaxed about my work. I feel that if I die tomorrow then I will have done something I am truly proud of.
William Hurt stars as Graeme, a middle-aged Welshman who decides to adopt a little boy, in the Chris Menges film, Second Best.
I play the little boy's social worker. The film also stars Jane Horrocks, who worked playws Sally Bowles opposite me later that year in the London production of Cabaret.
Here we all are looking young and perky at the premiere.
I appeared in two episodes of this BBC2 comedy show in which famous dead people went on trial to see who would become immortal! Yes, reallt.
I played Mozart (who won) and Lord Baden-Powell, the founder of the Boy Scouts (who didn't).
In this spoof of the real dating show, Blind Date, I played one of the contestants who loses to Mr. Bean, played by Rowan Atkinson. The spoof was shown as a part of BBC's Comic Relief night.
I got to meet Cilla Black, and she gave me a row for saying my Blind Date contestant lines in the wrong order. I also discovered she had a penchant for champagne. It was very enlightening.
Micky Love was part of a series of three films made for Granada TV under the umbrella title Rik Mayall Presents.
Rik plays the title role of Micky Love, a TV game show host, and I played his nemesis Greg Deane, the presenter of a youth TV show that was claiming Micky's prized time slot. It also starred Jennifer Ehle (who later worked with me in Design For Living) and Eleanor Bron (who later played my mother in Hamlet). It was shot in Manchester at Granada TV studios, and directed by Nick Hamm.