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James Norton on the red carpet
Photograph: Denis Makarenko/

My Life in Movies: James Norton

Famous Londoners share their favourite film spots

Phil de Semlyen
Written by
Phil de Semlyen

What’s your first London moviegoing memory?
‘I grew up in Yorkshire, so the first ones I remember were when I moved to London in my twenties. I lived on the Harringay Ladder, and being an actor and having bizarre timetables, I’d go to the Screen on the Green in the afternoon and take over one of the sofas. I’d pay for one seat then manspread.’

What’s your favourite London cinema?
Clapham Picturehouse. I’m not a massive fan of the big franchise blockbusters and I’m really, really bad when it comes to popcorn. I turn into this cantankerous old man when it comes to popcorn, so I gravitate to the smaller screens where there’s less scope for noise.’

‘I got to spend hours asking Diane Keaton everything you’d ever want to ask her about Woody Allen and “The Godfather”’

Have you been to any immersive cinema experiences?
‘I went to my first one recently: “Romeo + Juliet” at Secret Cinema. My girlfriend and I sat on a rug, drank a bottle of wine and felt very nostalgic. Did I get into character? I went in a Hawaiian shirt, but if anyone had come up to me to do immersive acting, I’d have run a mile. I get nervous that someone might spot me being very earnest.’

Which films would you say sum up London?
‘It has to be something like “The Long Good Friday”, “Withnail and I” or Terence Davies’s “The Deep Blue Sea”: nostalgic films with that smog-ridden vibe.’

Tom Hiddleston and Rachel Weisz in ‘The Deep Blue Sea’. Photograph: Film4/Artificial Eye

What’s been your most memorable place to shoot?
‘I had this amazing long Steadicam shot beneath the courtyard at Somerset House on this film called “Angelica”. In “Hampstead”, I had a scene in a sushi bar with Diane Keaton. I got to spend hours asking her everything you’d ever want to ask her about Woody Allen and “The Godfather”.’ 

What was the last film you saw at the cinema?
‘I saw “1917” at the [BFI] Imax. It was fucking amazing.’

Do you have a favourite premiere?
‘The Leicester Square gala for “Little Women” was lovely – I was proud to be there with a British cast for this big American movie, even if I only had a small role. My sister took her baby to see “Little Women” at a scream-along screening – she sent me a photo of him screaming his head off during one of my scenes.’

James Norton stars in ‘Mr Jones’ which opens Fri Feb 7. 


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