Rupert Graves is in his dressing room at The Comedy Theatre, London, preparing for another night of success in his role as Mick in the hit adaptation of Harold Pinter's "The Caretaker".
Before his play starts, he gets ready for his re-arranged interview with his website, where the majority of the questions where put forward by his fans.
In one of his biggest and most frank interviews to date, he talks about everything from why he won't do a sequel to "Maurice", to his views on The National Lottery, along with a large dose of humour.
When alll comes to all - he's just a lad.
Rupert Graves: Hi there…
Hi yourself, how's it going?
Rupert Graves: I'm fine thanks, how are you?
Oh, you know, not so bad etc…have a good weekend then?
Rupert Graves: Eeeeee…….yeah!
Great, I was stuck down at The Legion again…cheap beer.
Rupert Graves: Hmmm..nice
Em, not really!
Both men laugh at the thought of a wild night out in "The Legion". (A working man's type club found in the UK).
You sound a bit quiet today.
Rupert Graves: Yeah, well, you know - it's the beginning of the week.
Well, not too long before you have a bit of a break…?
Rupert Graves: Lovely!
Right…and now I've got some "lovely questions" for you here.
Rupert Graves: Hmmmmm….
Only kidding - now try and bear with me just a little, as you know, we sorted this out in a bit of a hurry.
Rupert Graves: OK.
Okay then…in the space of a few days I took in over 700 questions, which needed a bit sorting…there I go again waffling - here goes…
Rupert Graves: (laughing) ok…..
Tell you what, I'll just fire these off in a random order, that would be easier, you'll be busy later, I reckon that would be easier?
Rupert Graves: Ok, let's do that.
Okay then…. Could you name your favourite film or tv production, giving the reasons as to why, and after that the worst one?
Rupert Graves: What, the ones I've done?
Yes, sorry - from the ones you've done.
Rupert Graves: Oh Christ! - The worst one is easy, it's called "The Sheltering Desert"….
I know - I've seen it!
Large amount of laughing from both sides.
Rupert Graves: And that was shite, just because it was shite…
Rupert Graves: My favourite……I don't know…I dunno…..I prefer plays rather than films…..Oh, I dunno, I quite like that one, what do you call it, the one with Rupert Everett in it?
Madness Of King George….
Rupert Graves: Yeah, that's the one - I quite like that….
So, you're choosing that one as your favourite then?
Rupert Graves: Yeah, go on then.
Okay then, here's a question about something we spoke about last week…..everyone (still) talks about your role as "Alec" in Maurice.
Rupert Graves: Yeah.
If the script was right, would you consider making a sequel?
Rupert Graves: If the script of "Maurice"……
Yeah, like if somebody came up with a great second book to the film, you know…..
Rupert Graves: Er…I doubt it….I think…..
I didn't think you would…..it's one of those films that just finishes at the end of the story yeah?
Rupert Graves: Yeah, definitely…yeah.
Ok then…. Which of the characters that you've played are you most like, and which has been the most enjoyable to portray?
Rupert Graves: (two solid minutes of humming and more humming….)
Actually, this one might take some doing, as you really have been acting for quite a long time now haven't you?
Rupert Graves: Yeah….I don't know who I'm most like.
Go on. You can choose anyone from your films - and then decide who you think you most resemble….even if it's not 100 per cent….
Rupert Graves: I dunno, I mean….I always try to…..I suppose they are all kinda like me.
Yeah well, you do have to put a big part of yourself into any role?
Rupert Graves: Yes, right - one of the things about being an actor is that you don't know who you are!
Or, perhaps, a bit of hiding, yeah?
Rupert Graves: Yes…. that's true.
We can skip that one then?
Rupert Graves: What was the other part of the question again?
Em…which has been the most enjoyable to portray?
Rupert Graves: Hmm…I did a thing called "Open Fire".
Yeah, I've seen that - it's really good.
Rupert Graves: Yeah, I quite enjoyed playing that, because it was so like…full on.
Mmmm…shame that it was never released on video…..a good story, a true story as well…I can remember the news at the time.
Rupert Graves: Yeah…it was.
Right then…..here's a political one for you: What do you think about the recent criticism regarding lottery money being "wasted" on films that don't make a profit…wasn't "Room To Rent" funded in some sort of way by lottery money?
Rupert Graves: I think some lottery money was used on it….I dunno, it depends you know.. a sudden flush of money coming into the system of film making you know, um, it's not always a good thing. I dunno, lottery money should be used really, really wisely.
No argument there.
Rupert Graves: Really, really wisely.
Well yes, because it seems that no matter what lottery money is used for, there will always be somebody ready to complain.
Rupert Graves: Yeah, the point is, not always to get a big return, the thing is to make decent movies. I think the thing is that they have to get much better at the system. I don't mind money going into arts, yeah, money going into arts, on principle, but it has to be applied very stringently, you know, with a bit calm and thought, and by people who know what they are doing.
Yeah, you often see a story about the money being spent on certain things, and you tend to think - "God, what a waste"….
Rupert Graves: Yeah, I mean, it's obviously much better to put it into hospitals.
Rupert Graves: Yeah, it is, but I do think that culture is important as well, but it should be done so that people benefit from it culturally, instead of a lot of wankers running around and, well you know..
Yeah, I understand you.
Speaking about that film - have you heard when it's due to be released yet, it was shown at the London Film Festival, in what, November last year?
Rupert Graves: No, not heard anything yet, hold on, I may have received, yes I did, something the other day about that from the film company or someone - it should be quite soon I think.
Okay moving on - Rupert, you're now "30 something".
Rupert Graves: Em, yes!
"The interviewer is now laughing his head off"….
(Both men descend into raucous laughter…)
Okay, I'm trying to be serious here, as you approach the latter part of the next 30 years or so, for what would you like to be remembered?
Rupert Graves: Oh!(then followed by a sequence of sighing, and the repeating of the question…..)
(Laughing) "Deep sighs"?
Rupert Graves: These are hard questions!
Hmm….well they needed to be original?
Rupert Graves: I can't think, (laughing) I don't know, I'd like to remembered as a good actor, I suppose.
A good actor?
Rupert Graves: Yeah, I know, it's pretty lame but that's all I can think of.
That's alright - it is a hard question - I mean, you're only about half way through your life really aren't you?
(Raucous laughter from both men again…)
Rupert Graves: (Screaming..) Goddamn! (More laughter..)
Ok…enough, or we'll never get this finished in time. (The laughter at this point starts to lessen)
Right then, what about sympathy with some of the characters you have played? And, have you ever found it impossible not to find sympathy with a character?
Rupert Graves: Em, I've always tried…no, I've never played a role where I've never had any sympathy for the character at all.
Yeah, but I suppose that sometimes you have to find that sympathy?
Rupert Graves: Yeah, yeah, you've got to scrub it around a bit, but I do believe you know that most human beings are capable of most things. I had a load of sympathy for that guy in "Open Fire", because he was a real man, and I got to look at all of his old letters and passport and stuff - his dad kept them all in a big box, and when you start looking into somebody, it's kinda tragic, death.
Yeah, I thought it would have been "Open Fire", or perhaps Harold Guppy?
Rupert Graves: Yes.
Because, when you watch that, you sense that he's being led by events really.
Rupert Graves: Yeah, he's kind of.. you feel sorry for him because, I mean my belief is that he was just institutionalised, is that he just didn't know how to behave in the outside world, in a world where he just became so dominated by the mother figure.
Okay, let's ask again about your age - it seems that everyone is talking about your age, perhaps you are just too old? (The laughing starts again….)
Rupert Graves: (Laughing) TOO OLD ?!!!
Well, like myself, you are going to be 40 years old soon, how do you feel about it as an actor, and as a human?
Rupert Graves: I think that you get better parts as you get more older, better parts for males that is, it's easier for males than females.
You become more "distinguished"?
Rupert Graves: Yeah! Em, and you don't have to be so kind of "attractive" (laughing)
You're going to become an "old luvvy" !
Rupert Graves: Yeah, here I come! Em.. as a person, I like life - the older I get the happier I am.
So, you don't worry about getting old then?
Rupert Graves: No, because I don't think that 40 is that old frankly.
Well, it's not really, I just try not to think about it - it's all in the mind really.
Rupert Graves: Yeah!
Okay Rupert, could you see yourself doing a modern comedy show like, a one such as Ab Fab, which is something that Helena (Bonham Carter) has done? Would you consider something like that?
Rupert Graves: Yeah, I love comedy. You know, you do films and things, and I'm not known as a comedy actor, and you do tend to get pigeonholed , but yeah, I love comedy, I'd love to do comedy.
Is that your type of comedy - something like "Ab Fab"? I mean, I can watch that and be laughing my head off after five minutes, Joanna Lumley for example is brilliant.
Rupert Graves: Yeah it is, and she's amazing.
Moving on a bit - do you have any writing projects at present?
Rupert Graves: Yeah, I'm writing a film at the moment.
Care to tell anything about it?
Rupert Graves: Yeah, it's called "Ripley Bogul", it's from a book - I'm adapting a book.
Will you be in it yourself?
Rupert Graves: I dunno - maybe I'll be in it myself…well see, as soon as I've written it - that's if it's good enough!
Not a problem.
Rupert Graves: (Laughing) Hmm!
Okay then, another one here, do you feel any concern when you play real people, as opposed to playing fictional characters?
Rupert Graves: Yeah, I've really got a duty to respect them, even though they are not works of art, they become a creative thing. You've got a responsibility to them to try and tell the story truthfully. I feel I need to.
Yeah, a bit like what you said earlier, playing David Martin in "Open Fire".
Rupert Graves: That's it exactly.
What about other roles, is there any specific historical person you would like to play?
Rupert Graves: There's a great play called "Caligula", which isn't the version that you know…
Yes, I've seen the film version, the one with Malcolm McDowell in it.
Rupert Graves: Yes, I'd like to a version of the play.
Is that something you have fixed in your head for the furture?
Rupert Graves: Yes, but unspecifically.
What about roles in Hollywood then, does that have any lures for you?
Rupert Graves: I mean, yeah, because it's the world centre of making films, but I'd be really unhappy with the idea of going there to have to make a mark there, I'd probably have to go there for a year, sitting by pools for most of the time - hustle. I'm kinda happier being here doing small projects that I'm happy doing.
A bit more personal then, instead of acting to become a "star" ?
Rupert Graves: Yeah, right.
What about if you weren't an actor then, what job would you choose to do ?
Rupert Graves: I'd kinda like to have been a zoologist , or whatever they are called now, actually a primatologist, because I've got an interest in monkeys and apes.
Oh right, you did that BBC documentary, "Animal Minds".
Rupert Graves: Yes, the voiceover, I'm doing another one, "The Danube Delta", which should be on some time soon.
Moving to a totally different subject here Rupert, you are always portrayed in the media, and spoken of as a very private person, how does this make you feel about fans, do you find having fans pleasing, or do you find it intrusive?
Rupert Graves: Well, people come up to you in the street and they say, they enjoyed it or whatever, and that's good as long as they don't say they did'nt enjoy it (laughing) and it's good to have a response. But, I don't really like going out and being myself in interviews and on tv etc.
Right, this is something we talked about the other day, you aren't really keen on interviews are you ?
Rupert Graves: No, I'm not, but it is nice when people come up and say good things.
What about "problem" fans, ever had any trouble ?
Rupert Graves: Oh yeah, you get all that.
That must be very worrying at times ?
Rupert Graves: It has been in the past yeah.
Perhaps as you get older that tends to disappear.
Rupert Graves: Yes, I tend to think that when you are younger you become a fixation for some people, and things tend to get mad.
Okay then, let's do a lighter question, you are granted three wishes ?
Rupert Graves: Oh Christ! What would I do ?
Rupert Graves: Oh Christ!
And, please don't say "peace and harmony throughout the world", otherwise I'll be straight down there to sort you out!
(Another bout of laughing from both sides ensues…)
Rupert Graves: Right, peace and harmony…
No, come on!
Rupert Graves: Oh, this is impossible, three wishes ?
Rupert Graves: Oh…. (repeats the question three or four times)
Okay, they can be either sensible, or fantasy, but you have three wishes. Whatever, you choose.
Rupert Graves: Ok, em, I'd like to make an album as good as "OK Computer".
Rupert Graves: That's one.
Two to go.
Rupert Graves: Christy Curlington springs to mind, I don't know why, but she's there somewhere…
I know why!
(Proceedings are held up again as both sides burst into laughter)
Rupert Graves: I can't do any more.
Okay, two's not bad, let's move on.
Rupert Graves: Okay.
What advice would you give to somebody that is starting out in the acting business , which is good, because really you are quite an old hand at it now aren't you ?
Rupert Graves: Yeah! Be confident, be confident. Whether it means go to drama school, don't go to drama school, be confident.
Going back to Hollywood Rupert…
Rupert Graves: Yes.
Do you think that British plays and film productions are given at all fair treatment by the British entertainment press, or are they (the press) ruled by the Hollywood publicity machines ?
Rupert Graves: I think it depends on the rag. Yeah………
I think the point that is being made is that you can pick up a UK entertainment mag, and it's full of Hollywood film news, and if there is any British news, it tend to be stuck away somewhere in the corner.
Rupert Graves: Yeah, I kinda think that America rules the em, glamour roost, I think that Britain is just a reflection of that.
Moving away from your work…..
Rupert Graves: Okay.
Sports Rupert, you into any ?
Rupert Graves: Yeah!
Such as ?
Rupert Graves: I like the football.
You support any team ?
Rupert Graves: I like Arsenal.
God, no, you're not even from London!
Rupert Graves, I know.
Shame on you!
Rupert Graves: But I live near the ground.
You really should be a Bristol..
Rupert Graves: City fan.
Yes, a Bristol City fan.
Rupert Graves: I like Bristol City, but I never go and see them. Ashton Gate, second division, I think they are sixth at the moment.
Well, we (Newcastle Utd) are doing okay at the moment, let's not confuse me with being a Sunderland fan!
Rupert Graves: Right! I've got a friend, he's a Boro fan.
Lord, he needs treating!
Rupert Graves: Yeah, he's in a lot of pain at the moment! (Laughing)
What about watching sports ?
Rupert Graves: Yeah, football, cricket I like.
Yes, and you have played cricket in a couple of your films, in your last production, "Take A Girl Like You", you had some cricket gear on.
Rupert Graves: Yeah, I did.
What about indoor sports, such as snooker and darts ?
Rupert Graves: I used to like playing darts, and snooker, but I haven't played them for years.
Have you ever hit a 180 in darts ?
Rupert Graves: (Laughing) No!
Okay, let's backtrack to your work for a bit.
Rupert Graves: Okay.
Your plans for the future - I mean, "The Caretaker" is due to finish soon, the 3rd of February right ?
Rupert Graves: There's a couple of movies, which are maybes, I'm doing my writing…..
Rupert Graves: This play might be going to the states in September, so I'm going to try and squeeze a movie in, in-between.
That's good, because I'm always asked about any stage work you may be doing in the states. The only big one you have done there is Closer, which was very well received.
Rupert Graves: Yes, if it goes, if it goes, and Closer was well received, yes.
And of course, this one (The Caretaker) is doing really well.
Rupert Graves: It is, yes.
How about a political question ?
Rupert Graves: Okay.
Would you say, that after acting all these years, you would class yourself as privileged, and would you say that you lean to the left or right politically ?
Rupert Graves: Politically I lean to the left.
Like a lot of actors then ?
Rupert Graves: Probably, but not all. And I do feel privileged, I think you need a good deal of luck.
Now, you've already told me that you prefer stage work to film work, is that because you find it more interesting, or the buzz from working in front of a live audience ?
Rupert Graves: Yes, it's the buzz.
Okay then, what event in your life has inspired you the most in acting, and have you ever thought "Shit, I don't wan't to act anymore" ?
Rupert Graves: The first play that I ever saw was "Death Of A Salesman", with Warren Mitchell, in Bristol, and I thought "Christ, yes!". Yes, Death Of A Salesman was the thing that inspired me to be an actor.
About packing in acting ?
Rupert Graves: Yeah, that comes and goes, it's sometimes not the profession for a gentleman.
Do you suffer from insecurity, as some other actors do ?
Rupert Graves: Oh yeah…
Even though you are now a "megastar" ?
Rupert Graves: (Laughing) em, um, em, um!
It's okay, I'm joking.
We spoke earlier about your fondness of music, in fact I think that at one time, you were busy writing the lyrics for a song - what about instruments, do you play any, I mean you played piano in "A Room With A View", and "Royal Celebration" ?
Rupert Graves: Yes.
So, can you actually play the piano ?
Rupert Graves: No, I just learned the bits.
Did you ?
Rupert Graves: Yeah.
Your Dad was a music teacher.
Rupert Graves: He was, yeah.
Can you play any musical instruments then ?
Rupert Graves: I can play the guitar, but only in a basic way.
Basic chords etc ?
Rupert Graves: Yeah.
Not as good as one of my favourite guitarists then, Bolan ?
Rupert Graves: I like Marc Bolan a lot.
Well, he's been dead a lot of years now, but now he's been acclaimed as the influence behind a lot of music, even Oasis.
Rupert Graves: That's right.
You like Oasis ?
Rupert Graves: Yes, I liked the first couple of albums.
Can you remember one of their tracks - it's called "Cigarettes and Alcohol" ?
Rupert Graves: Yes, yes.
Well it's just Bolan's "Get It On", you know the one I mean ?
(At this point, Rupert begins to sing a perfect rendition of the above.)
Rupert Graves: The worst song Bolan ever wrote was "Debora"……
Right, one of his "Hippy Music" ones.
Rupert Graves: Yeah it was.
Just before then, we were discussing the insecurity of acting, what is it like seeing yourself on tv or the big screen ?
Rupert Graves: I don't like it, it makes me feel uncomfortable.
The same reason you feel uncomfortable visiting your website ?
Rupert Graves: Yeah, it is. And also when I watch a film I'm in, I go "Oh Fuck! I shouldn't have done that", it's like seeing the whole thing put together, and it's often completely different how you imagined it when you were doing it. Or it can be anyway.
Well, believe it or not, you are running out of time (Rupert was back on stage in less than half an hour at this point) so I guess we should call it a day here.
Rupert Graves: Cool! The questions were good!
Okay then, off you go, and have a good night, talk to you soon.
Rupert Graves: Lovely!
Rupert Graves: Bye.
©2001 Rupert Graves Online.