My Secret Life: Sam Riley, actor, 31


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The Independent Online

The household I grew up in... was full – like a zoo. I have two brothers and a little sister, and she had rabbits, and there was a cat, but it was mainly my brothers and I who were the animals.

When I was a child I wanted to... be something different every week. I wanted to be every character in all the movies I liked too, but the thing that worried my parents was that I was determined to join the army for about 10 years. I spent a lot of time in camouflage cream and berets.

If I could change one thing about myself...I'd be less lazy and forgetful and clumsy. You wouldn't know it but I'm very good at... I'm quite sad on James Bond trivia. I can't remember a doctor's appointment but I can tell you all the Bond girls in order.

You may not know it but I'm no good at... parking. I scratched somebody earlier.

At night I dream of... Just about all my dreams in some way or another feature corridors or rooms from my time in school; I don't know what that says about me.

I wish I'd never worn... I once got bought a Freddie Mercury-like leotard as a bet, intending to wear it on stage. I never did it, though I did once wear it while handing out hors d'oeuvres at a party. A couple of people never looked at me the same way again.

It's not fashionable but I like... I could answer all night! My music taste isn't particularly fashionable; my favourites are all old-fashioned, my finger's really not on the pulse. But that's a good thing really – who wants to be fashionable all the time?

My favourite building... My parents' house. It's in a village outside Leeds in the Wharfe Valley and it's a beautiful area. It's home.

A book that changed me... When I was a teenager, it was Catcher in the Rye ; everyone says that, but it certainly did change me. I suppose when I read Brighton Rock at school, I never thought I'd end up in it – it's weird.

Movie heaven... Curled up in bed with my missus watching something and eating chocolate. And I want to work with her on a film again!That would be movie heaven – shooting with my missus, in Berlin, and getting paid millions.

My secret crush is... Angela Merkel.

My greatest regret... Probably not calling people I should call, and it being too late.

My real-life villains... A couple of old teachers – you know who you are.

The person who really makes me laugh... My brother Jack. He's very funny, if you find base, toilet humour funny, which I do.

The last time I cried... I had an accident in the garden last week, I didn't cry but that was pretty painful – I dropped some very heavy steel thing on my big toe. Fortunately, the toe is more or less still there, but I won't be modelling flip-flops in the near future.

My five-year plan... Onward and upward.

What's the point? You've ruined my day now, asking me to think about that! Because it is fun and we're lucky to be here.

My life in six words... Born, school, band, film, wife, Berlin.

A life in brief

Sam Riley was born in Leeds in 1980 and went to Uppingham school. In 2007, he played Ian Curtis in Control, the biopic about the Joy Division frontman which has just been released on Blu-ray. While filming, he met his wife, the actress Alexandra Maria Lara. The same year he was awarded a British Independent Film Award for most promising newcomer. This year he played Pinkie in Brighton Rock, and he will next be seen as Sal Paradise in the film version of On the Road. Riley lives in Berlin with Lara