What was the first film you saw in London?
‘“Reds”. I lived in a bedsit off Portobello Road and used to go to The Electric all the time because it was cheap. I caught up on films that had either been banned where I grew up [in Swaziland] or that I’d read about. I went five times a week, because I was unemployed so much.’
What’s your local cinema now?
‘It’s the Curzon and the Odeon in Richmond. I go to those regularly.’
What’s been your best West End premiere experience?
‘It was going to “Yentl” in Leicester Square in 1983. I’d been a big Barbra Streisand fan since I was a teenager and it was thrilling to see her walking past. I remember having a double-take moment when I met Princess Diana at the “LA Story” premiere. Had she seen “Withnail and I”? I don’t think so, but I know her sons did.’
‘I got to meet Adele and then Lena Dunham cast me in “Girls” because they were both “Spice World” fans’
What’s been your most memorable place to shoot?
‘The office that I had in “How to Get Ahead in Advertising” had an amazing view of the Houses of Parliament, and you could see red buses going past – the real London. I remember shooting the interior of the bus in “Spice World” at Twickenham Studios. Despite the derision I got from fellow actors for appearing in it – which I did entirely because my eight-year-old daughter was so obsessed with the Spice Girls – I got to meet Adele and then Lena Dunham cast me in “Girls” because they were both “Spice World” fans.’
What are Londoners like when you’re filming?
‘I think they’re used to it. I filmed “Keep the Aspidistra Flying” in an art deco town hall in the East End, and people would hoot or shout loudly to get money from the production. Someone would have to pay them to button it.’
What film represents London for you?
‘When I was 12, I saw “Oliver!” and it made an indelible impression on me. Seeing this phantasmagorical version of London in the movie was incredible.’
‘Can You Ever Forgive Me?’ is in cinemas on Fri Feb 1.