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Interview: John Simm: This Much I Know

The Observer
Olly Richards
25 May 2013

John Simm: 'Twitter has restored my faith in humanity. It delights me how witty and friendly most people are. Photo credit: Richard Saker for the Observer

John Simm: ‘Twitter has restored my faith in humanity. It delights me how witty and friendly most people are. Photo credit: Richard Saker for the Observer

I’m good at being on my own. As a kid I was always in my room alone, so I have a high threshold for it. If I’m bored, I’ll read. Hanging around doesn’t go well with me.

The 90s are hazy. I was a party boy in my 20s and that culminated with Human Traffic. Then I acquired a family, which rather changed things.

Charles Dickens is great. I love the classics. I recently read The Brothers Karamazov which was very heavy, so I read about another 10 novels alongside it. But, Dickens… I’d love to be in a Dickens adaptation. Nobody’s ever asked. I don’t mind which one.

You need a sense of your own ability, but a real sense. Don’t kid yourself.

I used to be mouthy. It was all to do with being a northerner and from Manchester, which was suddenly a big deal when I was in my 20s. When I read some of the interviews I did back then, I cringe.

Twitter has restored my faith in humanity. I thought I’d hate it, but while there are lots of knobheads, there are even more lovely people. It delights me how witty and friendly most people are.

I’m past going to Hollywood and trying to sell myself. I just can’t be arsed. I remember being promised the moon on a stick after State of Play, but you realise that’s just what they tell you. I don’t think I’m cut out for that world.

Critics should be to actors what ornithologists are to birds: they can write all they want, but it shouldn’t affect them.

I can’t leave music alone. My gigging days are gone [Simm was in the band Magic Alex in the 90s], but I still play the guitar. I love that on Twitter I can mention a band and they’ll get in touch. I think, “I’m in, I’m in!” I’m a fan.

Pinter is a hero of mine. I think it’s like Shakespeare – when you get the chance to do it, you do it.

I’ve got a good sense of when a backlash is coming. I knew on Life on Mars that if we just stopped at that number of episodes, like The Prisoner, it would be a classic. They always want more, so they came up with Ashes to Ashes. I knew it would get the backlash and it did. In fact, poor Keeley [Hawes] got it.

Being on location isn’t the same as being on holiday. It makes me angry when people think Mad Dogs [filmed in Mallorca] is just a jolly. I’m away from my family for three months. I haven’t seen my kids for six weeks and we work six days a week, 7am until 8pm. It’s not a fucking holiday, it’s work. They never get the same abuse on Benidorm.

In your 40s you don’t have to pretend to be cool any more. You can wear what you like, listen to what you like, say what you think. You’re just someone’s dad. It’s quite freeing.

John Simm stars in Mad Dogs, returning to Sky1 HD for a third series, on 4 June. He stars in Pinter’s The Hothouse at Trafalgar Studios until 3 August

One thought on “Interview: John Simm: This Much I Know

  1. I met John Simm in the bar after the Pinter play Betrayal at Sheffield Crucible, I waffled a bit (ever so slightly star struck!), he took the time to chat about his previous role in Hamlet, the upcoming new series of Mad Dogs and how he loved what he did but missed being with his family, a really, really great actor (Hollywood you don’t know what you’re missing!) a cool Manc lad and an all round nice bloke 🙂

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