I was on jury duty a while ago. Two weeks of my life spent on my civic responsibility. Most of the time was spent waiting to be selected for a trial. During that time, I had little to do than eavesdrop on my fellow jurors.
An actor waited in the summoning room. He held forth at length to an attentive young woman.
I was called to audition for The Crown, he said. To be a doctor.
I thought to myself, do I really want to be a doctor? It is far too generic. So I declined.
I didn't want the role. It is better to chase a role not wanting it and not getting it, than chase it wanting it and not getting it.
I am going to be rather busy in the New Year, he said.
Do you know Robert Fisk? He has written a book on the Middle East. I'll be doing readings from it in Rotherhithe.
I am teaching at an acting boot camp. It is a somewhat difficult balance to achieve. If I spend too much time on any one person, they won't learn their lines. If I spend too little, they are resentful.
Last year was interesting, he said. I was in Italy. The fringe theatre scene there is incredible. It is in the most unlikely places, and inexpensive, and people turn up after a long day's hard work.
My family? Well, there are actors, he said. My sister directs. My mum runs a bed and breakfast. It tides over the lean times.
She is like you, he said, she has an arts background. But she is more practically-minded.
My sister organised a panel discussion with the remaining cast of Solaris. Yes, for the 50th anniversary of Gagarin's flight. It was awesome.
You know, the real creatives in TV are the producers and the scriptwriters. The director is like a glorified first assistant.
Can you imagine Maggie Smith and Alan Rickman with all those kids? Here you have the best of British acting and the camera is focused at their knees and all those children milling about. Paid good money, though.
We went for dinner once with Rickman and when the bill came, Rickman stopped us, saying: "Two words: Harry Potter."
The actor was so pleased with his drawling imitation of Rickman that he said it again:
"Two words: Harry Potter."