Revelations; I realised I couldn't do acting on the side

The time: New Year's Eve, 1995 The place: Henlow Grange, Bedfordshire The man: Luke Goss, actor and musician
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I wanted music so badly - I thought. I left the band, Bros, because I didn't want music in that context, ie, the pop thing. I knew I didn't want to be compromised any more. It was like being in a fast, low car, a Lamborghini: great for the motorway but pretty useless for anything else. I wanted to be in a different car on the same road.

I met such resistance. I knew it would be difficult but ... I didn't realise the magnitude of my decision until after I'd left the band.

I spent about eight months going through my lows, letting myself free- fall, knowing I had a canopy to open that would save me from the fall. I left it quite dangerously late. I didn't hit the bottom, not quite. I'm too sensible for that. One day I looked in the mirror and just thought, it's slightly too crap; time to make a move, or else ... I've got the balls to do most things, but I haven't got the nerve to give up. I was smoking weed and tucking into beers in the morning, and wine - not massively, but taking myself somewhere else; and I just, one day, knocked it on the head.

And then a guy called and asked if I would be interested in writing an autobiography. I said yes. That was such a cathartic process for me - though if I could have written it and then never released it, that would have been more fun, because writing an autobiography is so exposing. The book gave me a sense of purpose each morning. I had a ghost writer, who was fantastic, but a lot of it was me. I was there every morning, working hard. That was where I pulled the rip-cord.

The book for me was the switch-on again, the motivation. But I still ran around like a headless chicken wanting to get into something. I formed my own record label in a moment of defiance, then I signed a deal with One Little Indian, who at the time had signed Bjork and Skunk Anansie and the Shamen, so it was a real hip label. Mr Goss being signed to them was a real no-no: all these credible people revelling in their music mags were committing hara-kiri. But it was good for me because I got a chance to make the album I wanted to make, like a Van Morrison studio album, Counting Crows-style, Lenny Kravitz-esque, and I was revelling in my own ego and opinion.

I finished the album, but it really scared me. I never had any insecurity to deal with in Bros because it was just a massive hit every bloody time; here, I had this huge anxiety. I didn't want to release the album because I knew: it's just not going to happen here.

I had been to see the film Ed Wood. I absolutely loved it. His approach and his blind passion were really inspiring - it sounds stupid, but it was almost emotionally empowering for me. Then suddenly I was offered the lead role in a repertory show, the musical Plan 9 from Outer Space, based on Ed Wood's most famous film, the worst film of all time, supposedly. I read the script and I thought the whole thing was quite funny, very tongue-in-cheek, like a Fifties spoof. I kept postponing my reply; I didn't really have the nerve to go with it.

Then I was asked to do an interview with Michael Caine for a television special. I got to his restaurant and he walked in: no entourage at all, not an agent, not a manager, no assistants, no carpet-sweeper, no one. I thought, if there was a person in the music business with the same profile, you wouldn't see him for the first 15 or 20 people. I thought, you cool bastard; I like this; this is really hip. This is for me. I don't really like singing songs in isolation, I'm not loud enough or large enough when I'm myself to carry it off on stage.

I went to a health farm; it was New Year's Eve and I said to my wife, what am I going to do about this play? Because if I do acting, I couldn't do it on the side, because I knew it would be a shit job. If I'm going to do this, I won't do music. I won't release the album. Otherwise I won't ever be competent enough to deserve to be on the stage as a leading man.

She didn't even flinch; it was like, "give it a go". And I said, OK. And we made a toast on New Year's Eve - we wanted to make the decision on the crest of the next year.

The second I decided to do theatre, the doors just flew open. The inertia that I was continually fighting ceased to exist. I took the musical on and rep gave me a perfect chance. I was 26 at the time, and I thought, I've already built a huge mansion on a mud slope and whoosh, it's gone. There's really no hurry: if I'm going to be ballsy enough to do this acting, let's just build some foundations here, let's not walk into a West End thing without learning the trade.

Rep taught me the basics of theatre, the dos and don'ts, the traditions, and it allowed me to start my trade without too many people looking at me. I did that show and another one, What a Feeling, and the producers of Grease saw me in that and asked me to audition.

The second I decided to change careers, it was like someone saying, "oh, you finally got the message", or "about time, you silly git". I'm glad I went through all that, because I think it made me. I'm a nice man, a good person, I'm very direct, very honest. If someone tries to patronise me, after all I've been through, 11 years in the business, I get the hump, but otherwise I'm quite balanced. This profession is the best thing in the world for making you feel secure because it is such a difficult thing to do. You know that some kid with a six-pack and a pretty average voice can't come along and nick your job.

Leaving Bros - that was the beginning of little things, asking myself questions about me, like, what food do I like? Where do I like to go? The day I left the band was the first day I could find out who the hell I was.

It also brought on my first wave of cynicism, the first wave of hate and disappointment; after that you juggle pluses and minuses and find a balance - that's the stage I've reachedn

Interview by Emma Daly

Luke Goss opens in `Grease', at the Cambridge Theatre in Covent Garden, London, on 4 August.