Interview by James Mottram; previously published on BBC Movies.
Last updated: 01 December 2008
What did you feel about your role in "Another Life" as he's the villain of the piece?
That's what attracted me to the part. Philip Goodhew offered me the part, having seen Hornblower. He saw the potential in me to play this kind of character, and that gave me confidence.
It was a departure for me from playing those very earnest characters, such as in Hornblower. I really did enjoy it.
Did you have to do much research? Did you feel constrained by the fact that he was a real person?
I didn't feel constrained. I felt quite free with it. Philip had taken the characters from what he imagined they were like from the letters they wrote to each other. So in a sense he was taking it from reality.
I don't think I look particularly like Freddie Bywaters. You can't go against the text that he's written. You can't impose anything on it.
How can you relate to Freddie?
I can relate to the fact that he's passionately in love with somebody. Not obsessed, because I think that's quite destructive, but the passion aspect certainly - up to the point where he turns into an obsessive psycho and murders somebody. That's pure imagination for me.
Was there anything you wanted to do physically to yourself to become like the character?
I, stupidly enough, cut my hair very, very short two weeks before the film started. When I turned up for the read-through, everyone had a fit because Philip liked the way I looked. I had this fringe and here I was looking like a soldier.
So I'm wearing a wig. It's a pretty good wig, and it did give me the character. To have something different made me feel really good.