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24 September 2014
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When I'm 64
Jason Flemyng as Little Ray and Oscar Grounds as Adam

When I'm 64

Jason Flemyng plays Little Ray

He may count the names of Sean Connery, Brad Pitt, Mark Wahlberg and Johnny Depp amongst his list of co-stars, but Jason Flemyng still describes himself as the "slightly out of focus, ugly mate of A-list celebs."

It's a typically modest comment from the 37-year-old actor from Putney, who began his acting career at the tender age of ten.

"I always wanted to be an actor - from the time I fancied a girl who played Dorothy in the school production of The Wizard of Oz. I auditioned for the role of the scarecrow so that I could have the most stage time with her, but she ended up running off with the tin man!"

Despite not getting the girl, Jason continued with his acting and proceeded to Lamda, which he joined in 1990, alongside Cold Feet's Hermione Norris.

Of the class only he and Hermione have become well-known names: "That's not due to talent. Everyone in the class had that. It's much more about getting the right breaks. I'm a working actor. I love to do those jobs that come along and I've been lucky that my work has been prolific and diverse."

The actor has never been out of work and has to his credit stage, screen and TV productions both here and across the Atlantic, working with some of Hollywood's biggest stars and directors.

"Directors are the key," he insists, "and I've been fortunate enough to work for the big boys. I like directors who can push me and who have taught me new tricks."

But it was the attraction of working with the BBC on a television drama that brought him back to these shores.

"I saw Tamzin in Out of Control and I thought only the BBC can do these sort of projects without compromise… It's nice to do a TV drama because you know that people (including my mum) are going to watch it."

In When I'm 64, Jason plays Little Ray, the well-to-do, only son of cabbie Ray (Paul Freeman).

"Little Ray has done well for himself," says Jason. "He's got a good job and an upwardly mobile wife, Denny, and their only child, Adam, has just earned a place at Harrow Public School.

"His relationship with his dad isn't close and he sees that the only role Ray has now is to help out baby-sitting when busy."

It's clear from the first moment we see them that father and son have an awkward relationship, but Ray's friendship with Jim only serves to make matters worse.

"When his dad starts the friendship with Jim [Alun Armstrong] it compromises the relationship with his father even further."

How does this mirror Jason's relationship with his own father?

"My dad died in his sixties and I can't have that time back. When I was younger I used to see him as a hindrance and there were times when he used to call me so often that I even put the phone down on him.

"No matter how much money I earn, I can't buy that time back with him. I'd love to have ten minutes with him if he was still around."

Little Ray's alienation of his father is typical of our modern society, Jason believes.


"There's a romantic idea about how this age bracket should be treated, but the reality is that they slip out of our social consciousness," he muses.

"Everything these days seems to be about profit, and when you stop earning you stop making an active contribution to society.

"As a result you're put on the scrap-heap - it's a really sad indictment of modern-day society. People just don't have the time to see the contribution that this age group can make - it's amazing what you can learn and hear if you take the time.

"In TV there is this obsession with youth, that anyone on screen has to be a 19-year-old, blonde beauty - but it's such a rarity. Besides, just look at fantastic women in the media like Helen Mirren and Joanna Lumley."

That said, he is the first to admit there's one thing that he still has difficulty getting his head around with the over fifties: "There's a strange feeling when you think that people over 50 have a sex life.

"I remember going to visit a girlfriend and walking in on her parents in a compromising position. I was horrified."

In addition to When I'm 64, Jason is jetting over to India to film a Bollywood movie with his current co-star, Tamzin Outhwaite.

It will be very much home from home for the two as they reprise their role of brother and sister.

It's clear that Jason loves working with his co-star, because they're old friends.

Both starred in a commercial early on in their respective careers, but there are only embarrassed giggles when the subject is brought up.

In addition to Tamzin, though, Jason holds a special reverence for a former 007 actor.

"Whenever I work with Sean Connery I always think I've had a good day," he recounts with a smile on his face.

"I remember working with him on The League of Extraordinary Gentleman [Jason played Doctor Jekyll/Edward Hyde] and I had to do this scene where I have to be very clandestine.

"The director was delighted with my efforts, pressed up as I was into the door jamb. I didn't have the heart to tell him I was only doing it to stop my leg from shaking."

So will Jason be working with the big man in the near future?

"There's lots of stuff around," he laughs, "it's just whatever I pick up first. I love flitting between big budget movies and independent productions - I've been very lucky."

Undoubtedly, Jason will be back in Los Angeles for some project or another in the next few months, where he can indulge in his passion for acting… and convertibles:

"Driving down Sunset Boulevard with the top down," he sighs, "it gets no better than that."

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