I had an inspirational teacher at my junior school: Peter Nixon. He was enthusiastic, knowledgeable and slightly scary - a good combination for a teacher.
If I wasn't an actor, I'd be a moody folk singer, sitting on stools and being very depressing.
I don't like to watch myself on screen because in my mind there is a touch of George Clooney about me, but when I see it, there is more than a little Donkey from 'Shrek' about me.
Dad was a strict disciplinarian and would give us a wallop with a wooden spoon if we were out of order. But we really respected him - he didn't try to be our best friend.
I am a passionate believer that comedy is a way of tackling some of the most dark and difficult aspects of being a human being.
I didn't know any actors growing up. My dad was a builder, and we didn't know any arty types.
I come from an Irish working-class background but went to a posh school, and any type of pretension was quickly mocked at home. I've always had a keen eye for pretension.
My mother was gentle and warm. She was the sort of person you could really open up to. I was the eldest and her only boy, so I guess I was treated differently. She did bring me up as a Catholic, and at one time I was an altar boy, but I lost my faith, as did my father, when my mother died at 45.
There's always an anxiety about playing literary characters because one of the great joys of reading books is that you can create your own vision of things.
Theatre's a much less faddish, more sensible world than TV or film.
Comedy is a very personal thing, and some people will find it funny, some people won't.
I enter myself in races. I did a triathlon, and I have done a marathon a couple of times.
When I was 13, I won a scholarship to boarding school. My parents let me choose whether to go, and I decided I wanted to. Afterwards, I went to Cambridge to study law - in a way, I was carrying the academic hopes of my family, as Mum and Dad left school at 14.
I can watch anything from 1970s West Coast rock to 1990s electro-funk - I don't care.
I thought the best route to being the great actor I wanted to be was to play the great classical parts.
For un-subscribe please check the mail footer.