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A picture of the actor Daniel Mays
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My life in movies: Daniel Mays

Famous Londoners share their favourite hometown film spots

Phil de Semlyen
Written by
Phil de Semlyen

What was your favourite cinema as a child?
‘We always went to the Odeon in Woodford. I remember seeing “A View to a Kill”, “Rocky IV” and “Arachnophobia” there. Me and my mates used to queue all the way down to the Sainsbury’s round the corner.’

Which one is your favourite now?
‘I love the Phoenix in East Finchley. It’s an amazing part of the community. I take my kids there as often as I can.’

What’s been your most memorable London location to film at?
‘It’s my two Mike Leigh films, “All or Nothing” and “Vera Drake”. “All or Nothing” was shot on a council estate in Greenwich that was about to be knocked down. It was a bleak place, but there was a weird beauty to it. We filmed a dance scene on “Vera Drake” in the Mildmay Club on Newington Green. We spent months learning the quickstep and, if we went wrong, Mike would stop the tape player and start again at the beginning. It was like something out of “Strictly”.’

Bob Hoskins in ‘Mona Lisa’.

Which films would you say sum up London?
‘I’m drawn to the bleakness of London for some reason, and one of my favourite films is “Mona Lisa”. Also “London to Brighton” and “Naked”. The darker underbelly of the city is always the thing that’s appealed to me in films, so not “Mary Poppins” and all that sort of stuff. Although I did love “Paddington”!’

What was your best West End premiere?
‘“Dad’s Army” was fun because of the cast. I remember joking to Michael Gambon and Bill Nighy on set that we should turn up to the premiere in a tank and pop out of the turret one by one. I don’t think Bill went for that one.’

Which London movie clichés annoy you?
‘That there are always so many black cabs. Where are they when you need one late at night?’

‘Fisherman’s Friends’ is in cinemas Fri Mar 15. Read our review here

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