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This Life star couldn't be more different in real life; Actor Jason Hughes finds his favourite job is being a househusband.

Byline: KAREN PRICE Arts and Media Correspondent

WHEN Jason Hughes answers his mobile phone he is walking through London with his two-year-old daughter Molly in tow.

The actor is taking the toddler to visit her friend and he is obviously relishing some quality time with her.

During the mid-'90s Hughes was in his element as he starred as the partying gay lawyer Warren in the cult TV programme This Life.

But today he is most happy spending time with Molly and his partner Natasha, who trained as an actress.

In fact mention Molly's name and Hughes turns into a gushing father who talks with pride about his little girl.

Hughes recently finished two feature films (Killing Me Softly and Phoenix Blue) and a stage play (Kiss Me Like You Mean It) and he is now waiting to finalise details of some forthcoming TV projects, which he cannot reveal.

He is also hoping to write and direct his own film.

"My partner and I have a really good idea for a short film - it's just about couples, " he says. "It's about the human condition - our spiritual side. I am probably not spiritual, but I like to think I am.

"I have not done directing and would like to have a go. I think I would like to direct theatre first because that's what I know best."

But until then he is doing his favourite job - househusband.

"My little Molly is a gorgeous little thing - they are amazing, kids, " says the 30-year-old.

"One thing they categorically do is make sure you are no longer the most important person, which is a humbling experience.

"She's super-intelligent - she can talk better than adults I know and she's brilliant at taking people off.

"When I am not working we go to the park or the zoo, do art and craft, play music and sing. That's what I love doing."

It's difficult to imagine Warren ever muttering such words. Hughes shot to fame playing the character in the BBC series This Life which focused on the lives and loves of a group of twenty-something lawyers.

Warren was Welsh, gay and in and out of therapy. He was written out at the end of the first series but made a dramatic appearance in the final episode of the second series, which, much to the disappointment of millions of viewers, ended up being the last ever programme.

Does Hughes think This Life might ever make a comeback?

"I'm positive there won't be another one - not now, as it's been too long, " he says.

"They might decide to do a series featuring them 10 years later though.

"Warren will probably be running his own legal bar. He was a bit of a swot but he was all right - he meant well and had a big heart.

"He had hard time of it, love him, and was always in therapy."

Although Hughes is nothing like the complicated Warren he has been to therapy - for research purposes.

"It was fascinating, " he says.

This Life spawned a wealth of similar series about the lives of twenty and thirtysomethings, including Metropolis, which was screened last year and starred Hughes's friend Matthew Rhys.

But Hughes admits he has not watched any of the programmes.

"I don't really watch TV that much but I love documentaries - I am a sucker for documentaries and sport.

"I'm a bit of a sports fan and watch anything, even curling if I have to. I will watch football at 3am."

I last saw Hughes just before Wales's disastrous Six Nations match against Ireland at the Millennium Stadium this month.

"What were they doing? I can't believe it, " Hughes tells me during our subsequent interview as he reflects on Wales's defeat.

"I hope it was because they had too much beer the night before, " he adds with a laugh.

Hughes admits he does not participate in much sport these days.

"I used to play a lot when I was in Wales but I don't really do much any more apart from squash or badminton.

"I don't play rugby any more - I value my life too much."

Hughes developed a love of acting while he was a pupil at Porthcawl Comprehensive School.

He was taught by Roger Burnell, who is still the school's head of performing arts, and he recently returned to the school to pass on practical tips on acting and drama to current students.

As a teenager Hughes enjoyed drama so much that he decided to join the National Youth Theatre of Wales, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary.

As well as developing his skills, he forged close friendships with some of the fellow students, including Michael Sheen, Matthew Rhys and Ioan Gruffudd. His schoolfriend Hywel Simons, who stars in The Bill, was also a member of NYTW.

Hughes, Sheen and Simons all went on to study drama in London at the same time and so shared a house.

"We all lived together and we all misbehaved together, " laughs Hughes.

Hughes was planning to meet up with Simons following our interview.

"He is my oldest friend from Porthcawl - we have been friends for 15 years.

"We are meeting at the National Film Theatre and going to watch a Laurel and Hardy film."

Although he is now based in London, Hughes visits his family in Wales as often as he can.

"My family want to see Molly - they don't want to know about me anymore, it's her, " he laughs.

"It is of utmost importance to me to teach her about her Welsh roots. We take her to different parts of Wales, not just home.

"When she goes to Wales she loves it and people like kids being around - it's not like living in the city where kids are treated like the plague. We go out for lunch and people won't let us in because we have a kid. It's so much easier for us in Wales and she loves it."

Although Hughes does not speak Welsh, he would like Molly to learn the language. His partner Natasha, who he met through a close friend, is an Australian who can speak five languages. "She can do the most perfect Welsh accent and Molly has inherited that ability."

Hughes is now making the most of his time with Molly before he embarks on his next work projects.

Who would he most like to star alongside? "I would love to meet Anthony Hopkins, " he says.

His friend Matthew Rhys has already worked with the Hannibal star in the film Titus.

"We were all saying, 'What's he like?'

"But I really don't mind who I work with - as long as the project is good then I am happy."

Factfile: Jason Hughes Name: Jason Hughes Age: 30 Born: Porthcawl Lives: London Status: Partner Natasha and two-year-old daughter Molly Education: Porthcawl Comprehensive School and Lamda (London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art). He was also a student of the National Youth Theatre of Wales.

Career: Hughes has worked extensively in theatre, film and TV, but the role which shot him to stardom was that of a gay lawyer in This Life.

His theatre credits include Look Back in Anger at the National Theatre, Welsh playwright Simon Harris's production of Badfinger and, most recently, Kiss Me Like You Mean It.

Hughes has already starred in a number of films including the Welsh comedy about bingo called House! He recently finished two features, the psychological thriller Killing Me Softly, starring Heather Graham, and Phoenix Blue.


LOOKING AHEAD: Jason Hughes is hoping to write and direct his own film - "about the human condition"
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Oct 22, 2001
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