My Secret Life: Ciaran Hinds, actor, 57

My parents were... My father was a GP, my mother was a teacher and amateur actress. My father was a bit of a storyteller, but the acting influence must have been from her – yes, put it down to my mother.

The house/flat I grew up in... was the family home in Belfast, with a lovely garden, surrounded by four sisters. It was called The Chalet, which was a very strange name for a little house in Belfast – there wasn't that much snow.

When I was a child I wanted to be... the boss. But that didn't work out so well, so I concentrated on dancing and football.

If I could change one thing about myself... I would change my propensity to dither; I'm even dithering now about what I'd want to change.

You wouldn't know it but I am very good at... being a bit of a 'Daisy Domestic' about the home.

You may not know it but I'm no good at... much else.

At night I dream of... friends and acquaintances in strange circumstances.

I wish I had never worn... that awful flowery kipper tie in the late Sixties.

What I see when I look in the mirror... A sad old dog.

My favourite item of clothing... is an old green woolly jumper – I've had it for about 18 or 20 years.

It's not fashionable but I like... I don't think I'm very fashionable. I drink a fair amount of Barry's Tea, from Cork – but might that be fashionable? I don't know.

I drive/ride... London buses. I don't have a motorcar, so I've got to know and be fairly fond of the buses.

My house is... not huge, but it is light and warm. It's a haven where I hang me hat.

My favourite work of art... It's an extraordinary sculpture by Antonio Canova in the Louvre in Paris. It's called Psyche Revived by Cupid's Kiss, and it's just ravishing.

My favourite building... is the old Hoover building – it's now a Tesco. The façade is Thirties Art Deco, and it just cheers me up.

A book that changed me... When I was young I read L'Étranger by Camus, and it made me aware of the strangeness of life.

Movie heaven... Anything with James Stewart or Cary Grant, plus regular doses of Singin' in the Rain.

The last album I bought/downloaded... No idea. I get given albums, and I listen to them, but it's probably 15 or 20 years since I purchased something.

My greatest regret... I don't know if it's a regret, but we had our daughter rather late in life and so weren't able to have more children – but she more than makes up for a brood.

My secret crush... There's a list as long as your arm!

My real-life villain... People who deliberately inflict pain on others.

The last time I cried... was part of the job description. My character in The Woman in Black suddenly had to come to terms with the fact that the son he thought was resting peacefully was in fact wandering the world as a ghost.

My five year plan... has gone up in smoke.

What's the point? That question is so existential it's not true! What's the point? To be able to pass on a little something.

My life in six words... Travel, haste, communication, dithering, family, and friends.

A life in brief

Ciaran Hinds was born in Belfast in 1953. He abandoned a law degree to enrol at Rada and began his acting career at the Glasgow Citizens' Theatre, later becoming a member of the RSC. On TV, he was Julius Caesar in Rome and starred in Hostages, and this year can be seen in several feature films, including the final Harry Potter. He will also star in ITV's drama Above Suspicion: Deadly Intent this week. Hinds lives in London and Paris with the actress and designer, Helene Patarot, and their daughter, Aoife.

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