■ The actor, 56, on his new AI film, Genesis, and why he was recently chucked out of a pub in Glastonbury
Tell us more about Genesis.
It’s a dystopian sci-fi film about how AI could take over and who could end up leading in that situation. It’s set in a nuclear bunker with a diverse group of people from the military, politicians and civilians — I’m a spokesman for the civilians. We filmed it in a real nuclear bunker in Essex.
Are you concerned about AI raging out of control?
It’s an ongoing issue and we’ve seen smarter guys than myself warning about it. It’s an area that requires more attention.
How did your recent cycling challenge go?
It was good to raise money and challenge myself. It was a five-day cycle along the Adriatic starting in Venice and finishing in Split in Croatia. It was 800km with quite a bit of climbing.
Did you sustain any injuries?
It was painful. Your wrists get sore — especially on descents, I’m not a crazy lunatic who flies down hills — so you have some aches from seven hours in the saddle. There was a whole bunch of us — it was a good time. There were a few rugby players as Lawrence Dallaglio organised it all and the money went to his organisation, which works with underprivileged kids.
The Overboard remake has just come out. Did you have a nice time doing it?
It’s a funny film — a lot of people remember the original and this is a good reboot of that story. I play the Roddy McDowall butler part.
Which of your previous films should be rebooted?
Maybe there could be a Four Weddings sequel but that’s up to Richard Curtis. Maybe it could catch up with all the characters. There was a Mummy reboot — I haven’t seen it but the trailer looked good. But that’s what trailers are for.
Was playing a gay character in Four Weddings considered to be ground-breaking at the time?
I don’t know, I just played the character and the relationship he was in. I didn’t consider it to be special or original. It was a depiction that didn’t make any big thing of it. It wasn’t ‘oh, here’s a gay relationship’ — chances are you’ll have friends of a different sexual orientation and there wasn’t a big deal made of it.
Were you expected to become an expert on gay issues when you were promoting it?
The film was made back in 1994 and I didn’t do much press because I wasn’t very well known but I was always being asked if I was gay myself, which I thought was irrelevant and didn’t answer — it doesn’t matter if you’re playing someone similar to yourself or not. The press wants to know things about people. Some people are happy to go along with it and others aren’t.
Do you hear much from your Sliding Doors co-star Gwyneth Paltrow these days?
No. It’s been a long time. That’s just how it is. I worked with James Fleet and Anna Chancellor [from Four Weddings] again a few years ago and that was nice. It’s not that you do a job and swap phone numbers. Everyone gets on with their lives.
Why were you recently kicked out of a pub in Glastonbury?
I was in the pub with my dog and one of the bar staff said dogs weren’t allowed in the bar. She said: ‘It’s not me — it’s illegal.’ That irked me a bit because it isn’t illegal. She said: ‘It is illegal — and there’s a sign up saying you can’t bring your dog in here.’ The sign on the door said dogs are only permitted if they’re on a lead and my dog was on a lead. I was about to leave but the bugger in me decided I was going to order another beer. I said: ‘Get the manager.’ She went off and came back holding a phone saying it was her boss. I said: ‘I’m not going to speak to your boss on the phone, tell him to come down.’ And then some kid in a T-shirt came down, who wasn’t the manager, who told me dogs weren’t allowed. I thought it had got a bit uncomfortable by then so that was fine. But don’t tell me it’s against the law when it isn’t.
What lessons has your career in showbiz taught you?
Nobody knows anything. In films you can take all the elements of last year’s big hit, take the formula, make another version of it and it will die on its face. You have to be original and do your own thing because no one knows what a successful formula is — or everyone would be making successful films all the time.
Do you have any unfulfilled career ambitions?
None, really. I’m happy bobbing along. That’s the benefit of having done it for 32 years — you don’t need to keep jumping every time somebody cracks a whip.
■ Genesis is out on DVD and VOD