Jason Flemyng: My Life In Travel

'I was drinking an espresso next to a dead rat with maggots inside it'


First holiday memory?

Sitting beside a swimming pool with my dad in Spain. We've got a photo of it - we're both in the same pose and skinny as beanpoles, ginger and freckly.

Best holiday?

Tulum on the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico. I love diving and it's a brilliant place to do that. We once travelled up to the Gulf of Mexico and swam with whale sharks, which was pretty spectacular. I'm about to start filming in Baja California, which I'm really looking forward to because I love Mexico. My work is location dependent as well as script dependent. I would take a bad script in a great place rather than a good one in a bad place.

Favourite place in the British Isles?

Coldham Hall in Suffolk, which is where my friend Matthew Vaughn lives. It's a beautiful country house. When you close your eyes and think of a country retreat, that's the sort of place you imagine. Matt occasionally lends it to me, which is fantastic. When I first took my girlfriend there she thought I must be very well-connected.

What have you learnt from your travels?

Things that might infuriate other people usually make me smile. While filming in Bucharest, I was drinking an espresso next to a dead rat with maggots crawling around inside it, but things like that don't bother me.

Ideal travelling companion?

Jason Statham - who is my closest mate - and my girlfriend Ellie. She has a great sense of humour, which is really important in a travelling companion.

Beach bum, culture vulture or adrenalin junkie?

I travel a lot with work and, because I'm not a leading actor, I usually film for a couple of days and then get to go and explore for the rest of the time. However, the time I spend with my girlfriend is quite rare, so the travelling we do together tends to be easy, staying in gorgeous hotels. This summer we stayed in a hotel called Mas de la Fouque in the Camargue. It was beautiful, but mosquito hell.

Greatest travel luxury?

A tiny compact Tiffany alarm clock and my AmEx card. I also try and take $1,000 in cash - the dollar speaks loudly in times of trouble.

Holiday reading?

I'm reading The Count of Monte Cristo at the moment, which is a great yarn. I started reading it when I was in France; it's really nice to read something about the place you're in.

Where has seduced you?

India; it's wild and absolutely mad. I was up in Mussori on the edge of the Himalayas earlier this year making a film about a leopard-hunter, which was one of the most fantastic things I've ever done. A lot of the runners were Tibetan and they were amazing people. I've also filmed in Rajasthan and Kerala and loved it. When you're on the road it often looks like a war zone, with overturned vehicles in ditches and you wonder what has happened. But it's everyday life and that's why I love it.

Better to travel or arrive?

Definitely to travel. I'm very lucky that I can do something I love, which involves travelling to lots of different places. Even though I'm probably at Heathrow more than I am at my local petrol station I still get that buzz.

Worst travel experience?

I went to Borneo to see orang-utans. I naively went after watching the Julia Roberts documentary and thought I'd be able to cuddle them in the jungle. I went all the way to Sipadan and it pissed with rain for five days. We sat on a wooden platform looking into the jungle and all we could see was an orange blur in the distance. It was an amazing place to go but it was disappointing not to see them.

Worst hotel?

A hotel in Havana, but I can't remember the name. I put my book down on the bedside table and didn't pick it up for two days. When I went to read it again, it had mould in it. The room was so damp that the sheets felt wet.

Best hotel?

Chateau Marmont in Los Angeles. If you grew up poor, you would recognise the fittings from your childhood home - it's where rich people go to experience shabby chic. However, the bar is amazing - you're the only person in there that you don't recognise.

Best meal abroad?

I once went diving and swam with manta rays in Cuba. The guy whose boat we were on dived down and came up with two lobsters and his wife cooked them with rice. It was absolutely spectacular. Although it's not abroad, there's also a restaurant called Numero Uno in south London and I've eaten there hundreds of times. It's a family-run restaurant and it feels like you're in GoodFellas. The sea bass with balsamic vinegar is delicious.

Favourite walk / swim / ride / drive?

Swimming in Tooting Bec Lido and running in Richmond Park, both in south London.

First thing you do when you arrive somewhere new?

Put up a picture of my girlfriend on the mirror.

Dream trip?

Sky was planning a new series based on Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman's bike trip, and Jason [Statham] and I were going to go to the Galapagos Islands for it. We were going to free-fall from a plane and then travel to Venezuela and snowboard on a glacier. However, we couldn't go in the end because of work commitments. We will do it soon, though, but I would rather it was self-funded than for a TV programme.

Favourite city?

It changes; it's London when I'm away. I'm also happy in Los Angeles. I used to genuinely hate it, then I pretended to hate it, and now I like it, probably because I have lots of friends there.

Where next?

To Baja California to make a film with Laurence Fishburne.

Jason Flemyng stars in 'The Man-Eating Leopard of Rudraprayag' on Friday 2 December at 9pm on BBC2

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