First thing

The way they start their day: 5; Michael Maloney actor lives in Primrose Hill, north London

The time I get up varies a great deal - it depends on my work. If I'm working in TV or film, I have to be up whenever I'm needed, which often means 4am onwards; I have to be on set and made up by around 7.30am. When I'm working in the theatre, as I am now, then I usually don't get to bed before 3am, so I will sometimes sleep in past 10. Ideally, though, I think I'd be in bed before midnight. In fact, the first thing I think on waking is usually, "Have I slept enough?" Then I need to be left to my own devices for about 15 minutes, after which I'm all right.

My bedroom is very light, and the sun shines straight in through the window. The room's on a raised wooden platform, but the bed is fairly low-lying. It's positioned right up against the window, so that when I wake I can just turn around, part the curtains and look straight over London. This view leaves me very clear-headed. My flat is high up on Primrose Hill, and I can see Canary Wharf on the skyline. It's the most idyllic place I've ever lived in London, and I feel as close to being part of a community as I think you can get in such a big city.

I live with my girlfriend, Renata, who is a mature student in her final year doing Russian language and literature. She is usually up ahead of me, to start studying - she has a lot of work to get through at the moment. She tries to keep the same hours as me, though, so that we have the same mundane experiences - something in common while we each do our own thing. She's very good to me in the morning, and lets me use the bathroom first.

When I'm out of bed I head straight for the bathroom, stopping to switch on the kettle on the way. When I've done all the necessary stuff in there I make some tea, and go and get the mail. I then make very ambitious plans for the day, but a short time after I remember that I have to do a show in the evening. Between 7.45am and 11am I get a concentrated burst of energy, but my brain tells me to calm down, so that I can get through the day and give my work my all later on.

Now that the play I'm in is up and running, I don't have to be so ordered in my schedule: I don't have to be out of the door by a certain time. I find it very liberating not to have to stick to a checklist of when to shower and when to eat, and at the moment, nothing is required of me until early evening. But I do dress pretty speedily when I'm up: while the tea is standing ready to be poured, I'll put on some socks, some tracksuit bottoms and a T-shirt and then wander around the flat with my cup. I'll have some breakfast with my tea: lately I've been having porridge and vegetables - things like carrots and watercress.

The part of London I live in is very good for cafe life, and I'll often go out for coffee a little later on. While I'm out I'll buy some papers - a tabloid for the sport, and The Guardian and The Independent to get some information - and I'll read whatever else there is in the cafe. Back in the flat, I often feel like putting music on, but listen through headphones so as not to disturb Renata's studying. I also like to talk to people on the phone in the morning, which I prefer to writing to them.

I suppose my behaviour at this time is quite introverted, for me it's "up and running", but I can see that to other people it might seem quite anti-social. What I'm often doing is dealing with negative comments made the night before. When you've been out on stage you get highly adrenalised, and when you are in that chemical state then people can say the slightest critical thing and it will cut very deep. I tend to spend time in the morning assimilating these things. Fortunately, though, the production I'm involved with at the moment is a very happy one, and is going well

Michael Maloney is playing Hamlet at the Greenwich Theatre, London SE10.

Interview by Scott Hughes

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