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24 September 2014

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James Purefoy
Ah, the lovely James Purefoy

Interview: James Purefoy

Helen Otter
Taunton-born actor James Purefoy is about to hit our screens in a big-budget TV drama called Rome. BBC Somerset's Helen Otter caught up with the suave and debonair actor himself to find out where he's at.

To listen to the interview with James Purefoy, click on this audio link:

audio Interview: James Purefoy >
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You can see photos of James Purefoy in Rome, download James Purefoy wallpaper, send a James Purefoy e-card, as well as hear James' voice every time you receive an e-mail, by clicking these links:

You're in a series called Rome, which is showing in the US at the moment and is due be shown here on BBC TWO later this year. What's it all about?

It's a very big production about ancient Rome. It starts with Caesar in Gaul, and then he works his way back into Rome. This series takes us right up to Caesar's assassination.

"Somerset is where I call home, and where I feel most myself."

The story is told through the eyes of one Centurian and one legionary – called Lucius Vorenus and Titus Pullo.

And you play Mark Antony?

Yes, I do. There are all the usual suspects in it: Caesar, Cicero, Cato, and Atia, who is going to be the great monstrous character of the Autumn. 

It's a very big cast, a very expensive production, and it's pretty damn good!

So, you're from Somerset originally. Is this where you grew up?

I was born in Taunton, but I grew up in Martock. Now my family live in and around Crewkerne.

Do you have fond memories of Somerset?

Oh yeah, I'm going back there tomorrow morning actually. Most of my family still live down there, so I come back to visit. Somerset is where I call home, and where I feel most myself.

Is it true that you were once a porter at Yeovil District Hospital?

It certainly is - I worked there for two years. It was a bit of an eye-opener, as I'd been to a boarding school before that. It was a big change, but it opened my eyes to a great deal in the world that I hadn't seen before.

Hospitals are very extreme places - you can be in a maternity room one minute, and by someone's bedside as they're dying the next. So, I was very grateful for that experience.

You've played so many different roles, in film, on TV, and in the theatre. Was this intentional?

Oh yeah, for sure. I really love this job, and I think if you want to have longevity in this business, then you have to do lots of different things. I think it's crucial to keep moving as it stops people putting you in boxes.

What's your favourite type of role?

James Purefoy
James as Mark Antony in Rome

I'm having a blast doing Mark Antony at the moment. He's a force to be reckoned with – he's very brash, and arrogant, and lively, and he lives his life at 150 mph.

I really like playing people who are exciting to watch and who burn brightly.

Do you ever learn anything from the roles and characters that you play?

Yes, I think as an actor, if you're inhabiting a part, it's always interesting finding out how people react differently in certain situations. I think it can only increase your understanding of human nature.

What would be your ultimate role?

Well, I've just finished playing Blackbeard the Pirate for a BBC two-parter – that was a terrific part.

He was an astonishing man – he was the best pirate of his time, an extraordinary man who was really good at his job. You never quite knew what he was going to do next.

There are lots of parts that I'd still love to play, such as Hamlet, as well as lots of other Shakespeare parts.

The rumours are still circulating that you could be the next James Bond...

Erm... yes. Well, there's a big list of actors out there that are in the running and who are constantly linked to the part. I guess I'm just one of them.

We ran an article on the BBC Somerset website about the fact that you may be the next James Bond. It got a lot of response from our users.

For example, Lara commented: "James Purefoy is PERFECTION." Beth said: "This man is gorgeous and talented - just the job."

Lindsay said: "He would make a good anything with those eyes." And Samantha said: "James has it all... he is so hot."

What do you make of all that?

Goodness me – I'm blushing now. Very nice, and very lovely!

Did you know that you can buy James Purefoy memorabilia on a well-known online auction site?

You can buy a James Purefoy keyring that has a photo of you on it and then the caption: "I don't suffer from addiction to James Purefoy – I enjoy every second of it!"

There's also another keyring that says "James Purefoy – a hard habit to break", and also a t-shirt with a photo of yourself and the phrase "James Purefoy - he does a body good".

What do you think of all that, and do you think you'll be buying them as Christmas gifts for friends and family this year?

This is hilarious. I think my friends and family would vomit if I gave them those things – they would think I'd gone absolutely insane and that it had all gone to my head.

James Purefoy
Could James be the next James Bond?

No, I won't be buying them as Christmas presents this year, and what do I think of them? Well, I'm very flattered and astonished. We know that they sell them, but whether people buy them is another thing.

Ok - now here's your quick-fire round of questioning. Here goes...

Where's your favourite place in Somerset?

Burrow Hill, just outside Kingsbury Episcopi, or Ham Hill.

Where's your favourite place in the world?

My bed

What's your favourite type of music?


Who's your favourite band?

This changes all the time. I would say at the moment I'm very into Kings of Convenience and Athlete, but I also like Lynard Skynard (Freebird), AC/DC, and Led Zeppelin.

Do you prefer Diet Coke or 'full-fat' Coke?

Oh, 'full-fat' coke. How can anyone drink Diet Coke? The after-taste of a Diet Coke is like licking a cat's bottom.

If you're going to drink it, just drink it, don't be a wuss.

What ringtone do you have on your phone at the moment?

An old-fashioned one. Just ring-ring. Ringtones are just irritating, aren't they?

Who was your last text message from?

My sister

What scares you?

Harm coming to my child

What really annoys you?

So many things. I'm really like a grumpy old man. What annoys me? Parisians.

But do you know what really bugs me? Re-branding. You know when they pay loads of money to paint the outside of the trains – who cares about the outside? Spend the money on the inside, where we sit!

What's your favourite book?

James Purefoy
James in Vanity Fair

I tend to go for classics: Vanity Fair, War and Peace, and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall.

Who's your favourite actor?

A toss-up between Daniel Day-Lewis and Philip Seymour Hoffman.

Who's your favourite actress?

Janet McTeer and Helen McCrory – people who are really powerful on stage.

Do you prefer to go out on the town, or stay in and have a quiet one?

Stay in and have a quiet one, and then go out on the town.

What's your favourite season?


Do you like porridge?

No, never have. I just never got to grips with it.

Do you prefer red or white wine?

White wine in the day, and red wine in the evening. I think red wine's probably better, though.

Do you prefer milk or dark chocolate?


What's your favourite colour jelly baby?


What's your hangover cure?

James Purefoy
Lovin' the hair in The Tenant of Wildfell Hall

Painkillers, and starch - lots of starch like chips, white bread, something like that to soak it all up.

Do you have a party trick?

I have a party song. And it goes like this:

As I was going to the fair of Assey
I saw a girl's petticoat hung out to dry
I took off my trousers and hung them close by
To keep that girl's petticoat warm

The petticoat flapped and it made a loud noise
It flounced and it fluttered, lost feminine poise
And it wound round the legs of my old corduroys
Oh trousers, I hope you're on form

Do you have a lucky pair of socks, or any other good luck charm?

I don't really believe in it, I think you make your own luck.

last updated: 06/02/07
Have Your Say
Are you a James Purefoy fan? What do you think of him?
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Faye (California)
What a beautiful man! I love him in Rome but really fall for him as I rewatched Vanity Fair the second time. He's an excellent actor and a fine human specimen!

I agree with Elizabeth! It is INDEED obscene how much he has got going for himself. Looks, talent, intelligence...Well said Elizabeth, and I'll take some more James on TV too please.

I am in love with James and his character Marc Antony. He's got so much fire in him -- I love confidence bordering on arrogance in a fine man!

Purefoy is very talented and good-looking. I was very sad to hear him say Parisians annoyed him ! I was born in Paris and I've always lived in this amazing city and I don't understand him. He doesn't even give an explanation ! It's so unfair...

I think James will become James Bond in future. His charm will attract women and men as well.

freya (manchester)
oh my god what a gorgeous hunk james is ..l really enjoyed watching rome and mark antony what a star

he is fab and he plays a great mark antony and sexy

Absolutely brilliant, actor.He creates characters which are nothing like each other ie he never, plays James Purefoy!Would have been the best Bond ever. Performance as Mark Antony is off the scale superb.Wish that casting directors etc would offer him any part he wants !Best and most versatile actr I've ever seen. Thank you,'re a joy to watch.

nicky sells
James Purefoy rocks! From reading your invterview above with him, I share his taste in music, wine and favourite place to be! I had never seen him before Rome.. I shall keep a keen eye on him from now on!

wilma hill
i thought he was great in rome and think he is very handsome and a nice person

joanne hulme
I think James's performance as Mark Antony was outstanding and his body is rather good too!!! Well done!

With Rome just ending, I have to say that his performance stood out for me. I think he's a very talented actor and gorgeous with it.

Ann (West Sussex)
James Purefoy is perfection in "Rome". Not only is he a top-drawer actor but he has looks to die for. Just looking into those eyes on TV makes the heart race. The next James Bond has to be James Purefoy ... there's no-one else in the same league. What about a TV series of his own? He's the business!

James Purefoy is drop dead gorgeous. No one man should have so much going for him. It's obscene. More of James on TV please.

Been watching James in Rome and love him and the series.Great that British Actors are such fab actors and sooo sexy. Thanks James.

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