The 5-minute Interview: Cyril Nri, actor

'Playing a black superintendent is like being a black James Bond'
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The Independent Online

After a long theatre career, Nigerian-born Cyril Nri, 46, found fame playing Superintendent Adam Okaro in ITV's 'The Bill'. This month, he returns to the stage to play Othello at Birmingham's Old Rep Theatre, before transferring to London on 16 October.

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

Riding my bicycle home from rehearsals. I'm a man of wheels. I have a car, a motorbike, a skateboard, roller skates, even ice skates, though I don't use those very often. My bicycle is in great use at the moment. It's partly to get me fit for the role.

A phrase I use far too often is ...

Nothing I can repeat here. I use "stupid boy" a lot – Captain Mainwaring's old phrase from Dad's Army – to stop me swearing, especially in traffic on my bicycle.

I wish people would take more notice of ...

Their children. There's not enough family time and it's beginning to show. That's particularly true of young black males. I try to make sure I sit down with my boys for a meal every night. I'll cook it or, occasionally, one of them will. It's important to spend time talking, to be interested, encouraging.

The most surprising thing that happened to me ...

Was being cast in The Bill as a black superintendent. I think that's rather forward-thinking, almost like a black James Bond.

A common misperception of me is ...

That I'm older than I am. On telly I look older.

I am not a politician but ...

If I were, I would get rid of bendy buses. They're a bloody hazard.

I'm good at ...

Seeing my mum at the weekend.

I'm very bad at ...

Saying sorry immediately, particularly with my sons if I've got the wrong end of the stick.

The ideal night out is ...

Start with a good dinner. I used to go for Brazilian food. Now the restaurant is closed, but it would still be the ideal. Then on to a club at about midnight.

In weak moments I ...

Say the serenity prayer.

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

Probably a film director. I've done directing. In a totally alternative life I'd be a carpenter.

The best age to be is ...

Forty, because I was cast in The Bill at 40. I thought turning 40 would be horrendous but it was a really lovely, surprising year.

In a nutshell, my philosophy is this ...

Don't make anybody cry, get on with your life and live it to the full.

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