A big ask: Robert Carlyle

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Gabriel Tate talks Twitter, 'Trainspotting' and growling with the 'Once Upon a Time' star

Robert Carlyle as Rumpelstiltskin in 'Once Upon a Time' Robert Carlyle as Rumpelstiltskin in 'Once Upon a Time'

Which fairy tales freaked you out as a child?

‘Well, that’s it – they were written to freak kids out and make sure they didn’t run away from home. Strangely enough, I remembered seeing a play about Rumpelstiltskin [who Carlyle plays in ‘Once Upon a Time’] when I was about six. I was totally terrified he’d visit me in the middle of the night.’

First powerful piece of TV?

‘I was incredibly moved by “Roots” – that was the first time I ever cried in front of the telly.’

Ever Google your name?

‘I try to avoid it, but in the last month I’ve come out of my shell in an enormous way and joined Twitter. There were at least three people pretending to be me, and one of these fuckers had 4,500 followers, twittering on about a load of shit. I ignored it for as long as I could, until CNN brought it up in an interview with me. So I opened an account (@robertcarlyle_) and it was like an avalanche: from 20 followers to about 13,000 in a week. I was a bit scared about it, but it gives me the platform to express myself clearly. For one hour a week, I’ll do a Q&A, and that’s it. People don’t need to know when I’m off to the hairdressers’…’

Piece of work you’re most proud of?

‘A film called “Summer”. It was painfully honest – I understood all the characters and there’s very little obvious acting in it, even though we stuck so tightly to Hugh Ellis’s brilliant script. Like “Trainspotting”, it was the right people and the right script, at the right time. It clicked.’

And least proud of?

‘I wouldn’t volunteer a title, because someone out there will absolutely love it and I wouldn’t want to take anything away from that.’

Who would you interview on your own chat show?

‘I love listening to Michael Caine. I’d ask about “Alfie”, “Zulu” and those great ’60s films. And you have to love him for openly admitting he’d do things like “The Swarm” to buy his mother a house.’

What are you reading?

‘Nothing at the moment. I used to be a rabid reader, but now it’s scripts or nothing – network television is quite relentless and you can’t drop the ball.’

Most memorable audition?

‘Many years ago, I did an audition for Kwik Fit. That’s on tape somewhere, thank God I didn’t get it. That’s why I don’t Google my name. My best audition was for “Cracker”. God just smiled on me that day. The casting director was Danny Boyle’s partner, Gail Stevens, so that was how that relationship happened. It was a tremendous day. I walked into this holding room with 20 scousers [to play a Liverpudlian], but somehow I got the part.’

Which dramatic role do you covet?

‘There’s nothing out there that’s calling me, and I’m a bit superstitious – if I mention one, it may not come round. I’d love to do a Columbo-type detective character in a series.’

He’d need a quirk, though. According to imdb.com, your trademark is ‘shows his teeth when feeling slightly troubled’.

[Laughs] ‘Do I really? Well there you go: DI Growler.’

Robert Carlyle stars in 'Once Upon a Time', which airs on Sundays, 8pm, Channel 5


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