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Some people call me ‘Steve’. Not many, but a few. Often when I get in a taxi, the driver will say, ‘Alright, Steve’. It’s fine by me.
I believe I still hold the record for saying ‘f***’ on British television. I was taking part in a debate on bad language and, in trying to point up that there are very few synonyms for ‘f***’, I must have used the word twenty or thirty times. I like to think [late English anti-censorship theatre critic] Kenneth Tynan would have been proud.
The Da Vinci Code really is a*** gravy of the very worst kind. I’ve said it many times before but it’s worth repeating.
John Mills had no reservations about playing a late-flowering cocaine enthusiast in my film Bright Young Things. I took tea with him one day before filming and explained the part to him — he was ninety-five at the time. “Oh, goody!” he laughed after I’d outlined the role, “My first coke movie!”
Am I in love with [comedian] Alan Davies? No, but he is a poppet. And he tries ever so hard on [British quiz show] QI, bless him.
Twitter’s terrific fun but I think it’s important people realise it isn’t to be taken too seriously. It’s called Twitter, after all.
Did my getting stuck in a lift help popularise Twitter? If it did that would only add weight to the idea that it’s to be enjoyed rather than over-analysed.
Hugh Laurie and I used to be cool dudes but now I’ve found a new audience as the voice of the Harry Potter audiobooks and he’s known to lots of children through the Stuart Little movies. There was a time when we’d get stopped in the street by hip teens.
Now we get children with their grandparents asking us for autographs.
Everyone should drive a London cab at least once. It’s a wonderful experience.
Hugh Laurie’s great at board games. We’ve shared a lot of Christmases and when the games come out after dinner, he’ll win whether we’re playing backgammon or Buckaroo.
I was very nearly born in America. That was part of the reason for making the programme where I visited all fifty states — I couldn’t help but wonder what might have become of ‘Steve’ if I’d been born on the other side of The Pond.
If you’re going to break your arm, don’t do it in the heart of the Amazon jungle [as Fry did while shooting the BBC wildlife series Last Chance To See]. I really can’t stress that enough.
I’m a distant relative of the great polymath CB Fry. He played cricket and football for England, he played in an FA Cup Final, he equalled the World Record for the long jump — while smoking a cigar. He was a teacher, an author, he ran for Parliament, and he was offered — and turned down — the throne of Albania. In short, he was one of those irritating people who could do anything.
I took Ecstasy back in the 1990s, just the once. It was a strange drug — it made alcohol seem very sticky. And as someone who isn’t terribly touchy-feely, it was rather odd to find oneself enjoying physical contact with others. Of course, when the story broke — in a film magazine called Neon, I believe — the papers were up in arms. What an example to the youth of Britain.
The secret to weight loss is walking. I lost a lot of weight last year and I did it by walking everywhere while listing to audio-books on my iPod. I’d be there toddling along listening to say, Tim Robbins reading The Great Gatsby and the miles would just melt away. Effortless, really.
There are so many great Peter Cook stories. I think the best is also perhaps the best known. David Frost rang Peter up to invite him to dine with Prince Andrew and his then fiancée Sarah Ferguson and Peter replied, after leafing through his diary, “I’m afraid I’m watching television that evening.”
I love authentic people. People like Martina Navratilova and Jonny Wilkinson who get completely caught up in what it is they are doing. There’s no affectation with people like that. When they smile, it isn’t for the cameras, it’s because they’re genuinely happy.
The opposite of that sort of authenticity would be someone like Sting — I always feel self-consciousness within him. Yes, he’s got a nice voice, but contrast him with some of the younger musicians, like Thom Yorke who’s a really impressive person, and you sense Sting’s forced quality even more keenly.
The best actor working today is quite possibly Michael Sheen. I’ve worked with Michael twice, on Wilde and Bright Young Things. I think his relationship with Kate Beckinsale distracted him rather. Since they’ve broken up he’s done the best work of his career — and he’s dropped all that “I’ve a publicist who says I can’t do that” b*****ks. Instead of a Hollywood ‘star’ he’s become what he is, a proud son of Port Talbot, like two other rather fine thespians, Richard Burton and Anthony Hopkins.
Ask children what they want to be now and they say “famous”. They never say what they want to be famous for. It’s been like this for ages now. Will things improve? Not in the near future, alas.
I attended the 2003 Melbourne Cup in rather a fetching pair of shorts. It was funny how much press attention that got.
The Hilton sisters were also there and it was odd to see me encroaching on their column inches.
What’s the secret of happiness? I wish that I knew. The person who came closest to defining it was James Cagney. In his late eighties Cagney was learning a seventh language, he was sailing his yacht every day and he was building toys in his wood shop for his grandchildren. When a journalist asked him how he was able to retain such zeal for life, Cagney replied, “I guess it’s because I don’t give a single second’s thought to myself.” There’s real wisdom there.