■ The actor, 54, on hamming it up as Dracula, why he spoke with a Yorkshire accent in The Death Of Stalin and how having daughters changed him
Was it fun voicing Dracula in new film Monster Family?
Dracula is an incredible ham and to be let off the leash and be a hammy actor is a gift. I was in a room doing the worst kind of massively OTT acting. I even had to sing at one point. They told me Auto-Tune would help me out.
You’re not a singer, then?
I was cast in a musical years ago and I said, ‘Do you want to close, is that what’s going on? Is this like The Producers? You’ve got too many investors or something?’ I didn’t do it, obviously.
What else do you have coming up?
There’s a film called Hotel Mumbai about the terrorist attack, a film called Look Away, a young adult thriller. And the second series of The OA on Netflix — I’m very excited about it. This season is even crazier. They’ve got some fantastic ideas for a third series should that happen.
Has being part of the Star Trek franchise changed anything for you?
I don’t know what actually changes at my age but being on Netflix [in Star Trek: Discovery] means you’re seen all over the world and at different times. When you’re on television, you know what times people are watching it but not Netflix. Everywhere I’ve been in the world people recognise me from Star Trek and The OA. Young people are looking for a break. Me, I just stumble forward looking for the next thing.
You were brilliant in The Death Of Stalin…
The Death Of Stalin was one of those ideas where I didn’t know if it was going to work but I’m such a fangirl of Armando Iannucci. I thought, ‘If the ship goes down I’ll be thrilled to be on the deck with all of these people.’ Then I watched it kill audiences.
Was doing Zhukov with a Yorkshire accent your choice?
Yeah. I got the script, which I thought was a mistake — obviously it was meant to be sent to Jason Bateman or Jason Statham or something. I said yes immediately, then phoned Armando and said, ‘You’re not doing Russian accents?’ And he said, ‘Oh f*** no,’ and I said, ‘Can I do Yorkshire?’ and he asked, ‘Why Yorkshire?’ I replied, ‘Because they’re the bluntest people I’ve ever met in my entire life.’ Zhukov was the only one who could speak the truth about Stalin because he was the only person Stalin was frightened of.
When you’ve got time off, what do you do with your family?
I’ve got two daughters and as someone who’s absent so often, it’s about trying to do extreme things with them that they will remember. Of course, they just want to bake cookies and go to the park and watch telly, so it’s about dragging them out of the house and encouraging the 15-year-old to do work at the same time. Really it’s about trying to take the slack off my wife for a while. She is doing so much of it for the rest of the year while I’m off shooting, it’s about trying to inveigle myself into this family unit that works so brilliantly without me. I always want to do something that will take you to the edge of the adrenaline abyss.
So you’re into extreme sports?
Yeah. Luckily my kids will jump off cliffs and white-water raft or ski or canoe or swim through caves. I’ve raised them that way.
Do you ever get scared?
I jumped out of a plane — that was pretty scary — but I like to be scared in a safe context. I’ve presented lots of awards and I like to make a gag. If it goes well you get a terrible rush and if it goes badly the tumbleweed makes you feel incredibly alive. The terror and horror of a roomful of people being silent is actually as adrenalising as everything going well.
Interesting. You seem like quite the confident raconteur…
I get the flutters if I’m sitting at a table of eight at a birthday dinner and I have to give a little speech. I get panicked but I quite like getting a sense of panic and overcoming it.
Any pet hates?
Olives and asparagus. And I don’t like prejudice. I’ve got two girls and I’m maybe slightly ashamed to say I see the world through a completely different prism since I had girls and I see how so much of women’s existence is to do with sex, sexuality and looks. Nobody comes up to little boys and says, ‘You look so handsome today, I love that shirt’ but my daughters are always told they look pretty and I’m nauseated by how differently the world treats men and women.
Monster Family is in cinemas and on Sky Cinema from Friday