Quickfire: Actor Simon Callow on splashing out on party clothes and a face that doesn’t quite fit
The director, writer and actor reveals his career highlights and strict regime, only allowing himself his favourite food – pizza – once a year.
Actor Simon Callow
Where is home? Part of a large Edwardian house in Highgate, North London.
Who would play you in a movie of your life? Twenty years ago I would have said Robert Downey Jr, who had the energy and wildness to play the young me.
As a child you wanted to be… A barrister, a diplomat, a television celebrity – I wanted to be David Frost.
Secret to a happy relationship? Absolute trust – a glib thing to say, but a difficult thing to achieve.
Your best quality? Positive energy.
And your worst? A tendency to disengage when I feel that things aren’t working.
Last meal on earth? Something Italian and very simple, such as a bowl of spaghetti with a little olive oil.
Dream dinner-party guests? The people I’ve written books about – Orson Welles, Charles Laughton, Charles Dickens, Oscar Wilde and Richard Wagner.
What do you see when you look in the mirror? I’m always surprised by my face and rather dismayed by it. I’ve never felt it properly reflects who I am.
Big break? Playing the part of Mozart in the world premiere of Amadeus at the National Theatre in 1979 with Paul Scofield and Felicity Kendal.
Career highlight? Directing Maggie Smith in The Infernal Machine by Jean Cocteau.
Favourite tipple? Gosset champagne, margaritas and Côte-Rôtie red wine.
Hangover cure? I never get hangovers, although I often have too much to drink.
Where would you time travel to? Elizabethan England when English theatre was being invented.
First record you bought? An album with Vaughan Williams’s ‘Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis’ and Elgar’s ‘Enigma Variations’.
Most extravagant purchase? When I was about to turn 30 and work had dried up, I spent the last money I had hiring a tail suit to go to a friend’s very glamorous birthday party.
Best present you ever received? A big Collins dictionary from my mother.
Biggest fear? I’m very claustrophobic.
Celebrity crush? The opera singer Dame Janet Baker. Earlier this year I had the pleasure of interviewing her at the Wigmore Hall as part of her 85th birthday celebrations.
Happiness is… Feeling absolutely alive.
- Simon’s one-man show of Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol is at the Arts Theatre, London, from 8 December to 12 January and in cinemas nationwide on 11 December. See artstheatrewestend.co.uk and cinemalive.com