The 5-minute Interview: Bill Nighy, Actor

'Women think my handshake is some sort of vulgar proposition'
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The Independent Online

After 20 years at the National Theatre, Bill Nighy, 57, became one of Britain's best-loved screen actors with a series of striking performances, including Bafta-winning turns in BBC One's 'State Of Play' and Richard Curtis's 'Love Actually'. Tomorrow, he appears at the Riverside Studios in West London in 'Coping Strategies', a 26-minute black comedy film about a young man with learning disabilities, produced by Yarrow Housing Organisation's Moment by Moment Theatre group. For details about the project, visit www.yarrowhousing.org.uk

If I weren't talking to you right now I'd be ...

Drinking tea and reading a Ford Maddox Ford novel.

A common misperceptionof me is ...

That I belong to some secret lodge, because I have no handshake. I suffer from Dupuytren's Contractor, which means that when I shake your hand, two of my fingers go into your palm. Women can think I'm making some sort of vulgar proposition, so I try not to shake people's hand, or I explain that I suffer from this hand problem.

I wish that people would take more notice of ...

Cyclists on the pavement. As a pedestrian, it drives me nuts. They whizz past you. If you scratched your head, they'd either break your arm or you'd knock them out. They're not proper cyclists, you know. They are frightened of traffic.

The most surprising thing to have happened to me was ...

Making a living as an actor. For ages I didn't believe it possible.

A phrase I use far too often ...

"You groove me out", in almost any context. I can say it instead of goodbye, or if people say "I'll meet you on the corner". It's post-modern, ironic jive talk.

I am not a politician but if I were I would ...

Bring back Sundays.

I'm good at ...

Texting with both thumbs.

I'm very bad at ...

Brain surgery. Remembering to post letters. And calling people back.

The ideal night out is ...

I'd go to watch David Beckham and Michael Owen play for Real Madrid, then go to a supper club where Rachel Yamagata would be playing and singing. Then I would have a private plane take me to the Ritz in Paris, where I would stay in the Coco Chanel suite.

In moments of weakness I ...

Drink Yorkshire tea.

You know me as an actor but in truer life I'd have been ...

A lyricist. I'd like to write country songs and hope one of them might be recorded by Taylor Swift. And if ever my songs were to be performed by Taj Mahal, I would die happy.

The best age to be is ...

Thirty-three. You are no longer quite as hysterical as when you were young but you are still a bit more than when you're older.

In a nutshell, my philosophy is this ...

Pay cash, be kind, don't take drugs and pay your taxes.

Alice-Azania Jarvis

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