Dougray Scott: The Q interview

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The Independent Culture

Born in Glenrothes, Fife, Scott was told by a teacher to "go to the docks and be a fitter" rather than try acting. But at 26 he won a part in Soldier Soldier, and starring roles in Twin Town, Ever After and Mission: Impossible II followed. Recent films include Ripley's Game with John Malkovich, To Kill A King, which he also executive produced, and the wartime drama Enigma. Notoriously private, Scott, 37, is married with two children and lives in west London.

Your character in Enigma is pretty tortured - did that get to you?

Well, achh ... actors actors actors - you do get very involved. I spent a huge amount of time researching code-breaking. That consumed me entirely. I got very involved with numbers and learnt how to strip down the Enigma machine.

So when we see you working out sums, you're doing more than going through the motions.

I learnt enough to understand what I was talking about. There's a moment when I'm tapping a pencil... It's Morse code. See if you can work out what I'm tapping.

Answers on a postcard...

Ok, I'll tell you - I'm tapping out CLAIRE, the name of the woman I'm looking for, played by the lovely, wonderful Saffron Burrows. Now that'll really please the boffins.

Are you a manly kind of man?

Yeah, probably. You're led by example and I was brought up in a very working class environment. I played a lot of football, a lot of golf. My father was a very gentle man, and I liked the things he liked.

Do you remember your first kiss?

I think so. I can't remember her name. I was only about eight or seven.

That's quite precocious.

Terrible, isn't it? I was a dog.

Is your body a temple or a bikeshed?

A bikeshed that looks like a temple.

Lucky you.

No, I was being ironic. It has been - it's been very well buffed and worked out before, but it's less temple-like recently. I keep fit. It's all right, you know? It's OK.

Are you vain?

I think everyone is vain to a certain extent. I try and strip all my vanity away when I'm acting and I think I manage to do that. I'm really not concerned with image - I'll put on weight, I'll lose weight, whatever's right for the character. On camera you can't be thinking "hmm ... I don't look too good like that" - that's the antithesis of what I believe about acting.

What's your present project?

A film called You Don't Have To Say You Love Me - but that'll change, I hope to God. It's a terrible title. I play a cocky footballer who's frightened about becoming a father.

Were you surprised when you had twins?

God yeah, knocked me down with a feather, you could have done. It was entirely unexpected but lovely nonetheless. I love having my twins. Phenomenal children they are.

When's the last time you cried?

Abuse of children makes me cry, abuse of power. Terrible situations that can be avoided and are not. I cried with delight when Scotland beat Lithuania the other day. You know, I'm quite sensitive and I do get affected. I couldn't really put my finger on one specific incident because it would pain me beyond belief to tell you why I cried. If you'll forgive me.

There have been rumours about your marriage being in trouble, what's that like?

I don't give a toss about what the press think. They've got no right to invade my privacy like that. And it always will be like that with me. I do my thing and they do their thing.

What kind of James Bond would you be?

Scottish, manly. I think Sean Connery was phenomenal. He had a great sense of humour and I think I'd try and bring that to it. As well as the dangerous strong side.

What's your motto for life?

There are lots of little mottos that I have. Be prepared to jump into the unknown. Live in the moment. There's nothing we can't get through that is thrown at us. There's so many things that could break you, and some people can't get over things and I understand that but you've got to try. Be brave, be brave.

Physically as well as mentally?

I have been physically and I've paid the price for it. I fell off my bike in Mission: Impossible II, when I did my stunt myself. Oh God, that was scary. But I did it and I survived. I'm more careful now.

There are many fan sites dedicated to you. What do you think of them?

I'm kind of computer illiterate, to be honest with you. But sometimes when I'm round at people's houses they bring up the internet and I think, God that's a bit scary. It's flattering. I appreciate support I get from fans. But you know, I understand why. I don't get overly big headed about it.

Do they send you things?

Yeah, letters and photographs. I've had some wonderful presents recently. I've just had a cook book, in fact I'm looking at it right now. It's got all Dougray recipes. Dishin' with the Dougray Divas, it's called. "Compiled by dedicated Dougray Scott fans". Listen to this, "Impossible Mission Minestrone". Ha Ha Ha. "Utopian Chilli", that's from the film Ever After. "Jericho Steak." "Ripley's Best Banana Bread". Ha Ha, here's a good one: "Twin Town Tomato Soup". Thank you, ladies, for this lovely book.

'Enigma' is shown on Monday 10 November at 10.20pm on Sky Movies