David Morrissey, 48, is known for high-profile film and TV roles, including in the award-winning State of Play and Red Riding. He is married to the novelist Esther Freud.
What was your earliest ambition?
When I discovered acting, I decided that’s what I wanted to do above everything else. It was the first time I was passionate about anything.
Public school or state school? University or straight into work?
State. My education really came outside of school. Liverpool’s Everyman Theatre opened up a whole other world for me. It was run by a great man called Roger Hill. I left school at 16 and went to work in a theatre company in Wolverhampton, building sets, sewing costumes, everything really. Then I landed a series called One Summer and was suddenly a professional actor. I auditioned for drama school and got into Rada.
Who was or still is your mentor?
Three people: Roger Hill; Albert Byron, who introduced me to film and made me have a critical and analytical approach to movies; [actor] James Hazeldine, who I met on One Summer and who is sadly no longer with us. He was very much my touchstone. I miss him terribly.
How physically fit are you?
At the moment, very. It’s always dependent on the part, the challenge of the role – if I can get away with not doing any exercise, I will.
Ambition or talent: which matters more to success?
I don’t think talent alone will get you through – you need to be tenacious, particularly in my profession.
Have you ever taken an IQ test?
How politically committed are you?
I’m a member of the Labour party.
I think one has to be engaged with what’s happening, particularly from a world point of view.
Do you consider your carbon footprint?
We are a family that considers it and we try to live as ecologically as possible. We recycle and we shout at each other for leaving the lights on.
Do you have more than one home?
A house in London and a house in Suffolk.
What would you like to own that you don’t currently possess?
More positivity and less cynicism.
What’s your biggest extravagance?
Working; I like going to work.
In what place are you happiest?
When I came to London as a young man I was very excited by it and that’s never gone away. Wherever my family is is where I’m happiest.
What ambitions do you still have?
Many. I always try to put myself in the way of surprise as much as possible. My ambition is to keep challenging myself. I like that journey of discovery.
What drives you on?
The joy of what I do.
What is the greatest achievement of your life so far?
My family and my children. I can never pick out one job but I’m very proud of my charity, CAST [The Creative Arts School Trust].
What has been your greatest disappointment?
When you are an actor, rejection and disappointment are an occupational hazard.
If your 20-year-old self could see you now, what would he think?
“How did you get there? What happened on the journey?” He’d be very happy – and amazed.
If you lost everything tomorrow, what would you do?
Start again. It’s not an alien concept for an actor; you’re only as good as your last job.
Do you believe in assisted suicide?
Do you believe in an afterlife?
No. This is us. We have to enjoy as much as we can and give back to the world we live in right here, now.
If you had to rate your satisfaction with your life so far, out of 10, what would you score?
‘Welcome to the Punch’, starring David Morrissey, is out on March 15