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Me, scary? I mean really. I'll have to have words.


Juliet Stevenson and I had done a lot of theatre work together, so much so she was nervous about me playing the ghost of her boyfriend in Truly, Madly, Deeply. She was like: "But I know him too well, he's like my brother." The fact Juliet and I trust each other so much is gold dust when doing that sort of work. It was Anthony Minghella's first film, and he gathered the crew together on the first day and said: "I have one word: help." It's one of those films that is very, very special for unnameable reasons. People say everybody fell in love with it but I wouldn't say the critics did. It was even on Room 101 once, and I think it went down.

2007 I read the script for Die Hard and said: "What the hell is this? I'm not doing an action movie." People said: "Alan, you don't understand, this doesn't happen, you've been in LA two days and you've been asked to do this film." It's a bit shocking how thrilling it is to shoot a machine gun. Towards the end the director came to me, not looking me quite in the eyes, saying: "You've got to fall from the top of the building." This is before CGI so I had to pull my own cord to release myself off the side. And remember to get the gun in the frame. The guy who trained me said: "As you're going down, make sure you spread your arms into a star shape. If you don't, you'll start turning and land on your head and kill yourself." So it was sort of challenging. We did it three times and it was the very last shot of mine

Kate Winslet is a phenomenon at being prepared. She arrives on set knowing exactly what the scene is about, exactly what her place in it is. She said I was scary when we worked on Sense & Sensibility. I'll have to have words with her, I mean really. She was 19, so I guess it would be scary, if you've only made one movie, and you're walking onto this big set and playing one of the two big leads. I'm older than her and we were going to have to make some sort of believable relationship, but she was fantastic to work with.

1999 We all knew Galaxy Quest was special. All the actors grew up in the theatre, apart from Tim Allen, so he was like an alien to us. He'd kick down the door of the make-up trailer in the morning and yell: "Number one is here" and the rest of us are looking at our scripts. It was a perfect marriage of acting energies. We became this tight little group against producers coming out in the morning going: "They're still talking, when are we going to shoot?" We were able to say: "Just give us 20 minutes and we will have sorted out the whole day because we'll know what we're supposed to be doing."

2007 Johnny Depp is great to act with, he's very generous, he really listens and doesn't pull rank, he's terrific. For the film Sweeney Todd, we were both lip-syncing a Stephen Sondheim song, miming for two days, and we recorded it separately, so I didn't hear it put together until we got on the set. When I learned the song, I was in a room with a pianist and a door opened, and there's Stephen Sondheim. He just said: "OK, let's hear it." But the good news of starting late in a film career is you just think, 'What's the worst that's going to happen, he's going to fire me, OK, fine. I'll do my best'.

My story in Love Actually was, 'Am I going to get away with this?' It's a brilliant piece of writing. That scene of Emma Thompson's [where she discovers then cries over her husband's infidelity] is a - very rightly - famous scene in the film.

1995 There was a lot of laughter on Sense & Sensibility. Hugh Grant, Imelda Stauntonwonderful people. And Emma Thompson. She's not unfunny, Miss Thompson. She wrote a wonderful script out of her genius and love of Jane Austen. Ang Lee directed it and he couldn't really speak English then, so we had to interpret what he was saying. He said to Emma: "Try not to look so old." What he meant was don't be so knowing. He said to me: "Alan, be more subtle, do more." He told Kate Winslet: "Never mind, you'll get better." When Ang got upset, he'd disappear off to the middle of a field with People think I knew what was going to happen in Harry Potter I didn't. When I was asked to do it there were only three books written, so I was learning with the readers every time. I was just thinking, 'Oh, I'm still in it'. It was a very changing thing as it would be over 10 years. It was an organisational nightmare for them because the actors were doing other things all the time. I was directing plays, or I was making Love Actually, or I was on stage doing Private Lives in London or New York. My job was seven weeks a year, and sometimes they'd have to get the person you were acting with away at 3pm because they were on stage that night. I don't know how they did it. Nightmare.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Sunday Mail (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Nov 8, 2015
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