I love Sherlock Holmes. I've got all his books, leather-bound. What I thought was great about Sherlock Holmes was that not only was he a supersleuth, he was also a hard worker. Not only did he go out and solve the crimes, he came home and wrote it all down. Fantastic. That's why I admire him.
I use improvisation as a writing tool to help produce material that goes into a script, but a well-crafted script shouldn't sound scripted, and oftentimes people confuse something that looks like improvisation for what is actually a very well-written script that is well-acted.
I think I'm good with actors. I like directing actors. I also like to show up and just do an acting gig. Where I'm just a hired gun, I don't have to have an opinion on anything.I never got involved in all this stuff because I wanted to control stuff; I got involved in writing and producing because I wasn't getting interesting acting gigs. In a way I'm grateful that I didn't get interesting roles, because it made me pull my finger out and do some work.
To me, I like and understand ritual and I think it is important. Things that we do that give us comfort are important. Like Christmas, I like to go into a church and hear the carols sung. There's a comfort of actually going inside of a church, I find them serene. They're unchanging.
It's like aversion therapy. You keep doing scenes over and over again with three women in the bed with you, and we had to do them all in one week. Three girls would step out and another three girls would step into the bed.It sounds like a fantasy but by the end of it, I just wanted to go for a hike on my own in the north of England, in the hills. Because it became a sort of "be careful what you wish for" kinda thing.
I am not a politician going around bragging about family values or putting myself on some ridiculous virtuous pedestal. I write comedy. And I am an actor. I am not going to solve the nation's problems. I don't actually spend my life in the way the tabloids like to think I do. I actually spend 95 percent of it writing comedy. Sober. Well, nearly sober anyway.
The British often shy away from any cinematic interpretation of real sex. They sometimes have what I call "subtle sex," which is really introspective and has soft music in the background. Either that or it's played for comedy. The British are kind of hung up about sex. They find it kind of titillating and they make jokes about it because they're nervous.
I like comedy, but I like comedy as a device in drama. It's more interesting for me to use comedy to seduce people into thinking about something serious. If you want to hit a beat in a drama, you can distract people with a little comedy, and you can punch them in the gut with some emotion.
I'm not like a politician that goes around talking about family values. And I can't get fired from being a funny person because I did something that most people are disapproving of. I think people are just obsessed with this morality that people perceive as being the right and wrong way of doing stuff.
If you start to disrespect the character you're playing, or play it too much for laughs, that can work for a sketch, it will sell some gags, but it's all technique. It's like watching a juggler - you can be impressed by it, but it's not going to touch you in any way.
I like the British public. There is something in this country called tall poppy syndrome. You're good but you're not that good, pal, OK? The natural state of our nation is slightly miserable, and probably the healthier for it. In America you don't get a key down the side of your Bentley...