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Interview: David Thewlis (2007)

You’re used to doing interviews for films you’ve starred in rather than books you’ve written. How does this match up?

It feels good. It’s really annoying giving interviews for a film when you hate it. You know, the person interviewing you doesn’t like it and you say you like it, but you’re basically lying. With this, I’m really proud of it.

You signed a book deal more than eight years ago. What took so long?

I actually wrote it in nine months or so. But then a lot of film work came up, I fell in love [with actress Anna Friel] but finally dug it out and I ended up reading it like someone else had written it. I couldn’t remember the plot at all and I was laughing a lot as I read it, so I felt that was a good sign.

The book is about the ‘Turner Prize’ and the London art world in general. How did you do your research?

I spoke to young artists. People took me through the process of winning the ‘Turner Prize’ and I also spoke to a wonderful woman called Sheena, who showed me how one might conceal themselves at Tate Britain – it has good security.

Why choose the art world?

I’m an art fan – I love the controversy. It’s like with Tracy Emin’s bed – don’t get worked up, you don’t have to look at it. Through the eyes of my character, it is a satire, but he doesn’t represent me. I just thought it was fair game for humour.

How do you find time to write when filming?

I write the most when I’m on a film. A lot of the time I’m sitting in a hotel room or on my own in a trailer between takes. I remember writing two short stories when I was doing “Endgame” and my head was full of words. Acting and writing complement each other. It’s more of an extension of acting. It’s only now that I feel more recognised as a writer. When I say I do writing, it doesn’t feel like I’m just mucking about.

Being an actor, are book readings easier?

I did a public reading the other night in ‘Waterstone’s’ in Piccadilly and felt nervous, and I never get nervous in the theatre or in front of the camera. But once I started it was fine. I always read my work aloud to make sure it sounds right. Too often the writers don’t and then the actors have to read it.

Is it true you’re banned from China?

Yup. I did a film called “Seven Years in Tibet” – which was critical about China – and we weren’t allowed back. It’s great. I’ve got a friend saying he’s barred from the ‘Coach and Horses’. I’m banned from China, mate.

And hopefully not eight years for the next book?

Well, I have a child now which means less time, but hopefully it will be quicker.

· Published | 11 September 2007
· Journalist | Stuart McGurk
· Source | © The London Paper
· Credit | Submitted by Amanda

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