Saturday, December 09, 2006

Article: "This Cultural Life: Keeley Hawes"

What are you currently reading in bed?

I'm re-reading The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night- time, because I'm probably going to be in a drama of the true story of an autistic boy in the New Year. Also, my husband Matthew and I have been reading together a fantastic book called Eats, Shites and Leaves, just because it makes us giggle.

Which book have you re-read most frequently?

The most dog-eared book I could find in our collection is The Lord of the Flies. I was introduced to it at school, and it's remained a favourite. And now, having a little boy, I see it in a whole new light.

Is your mind an art gallery or a porn cinema? If neither, which civic building is it?

Does anybody ever say anything other than a porn cinema? Because, if they do, they must be fibbing. I suppose mine is a porn cinema, more than the other two. I'm only being honest.

What are you listening to in the kitchen?

We have Radio 4 but, once a week, the cleaner comes round and changes it to Magic FM. It's quite hypnotic, Radio 4, isn't it? And you can get a bit of culture without having to stop doing other things.

And in the car?

Anything by Jack Johnson. Quite relaxing, quite nice to drive to. And easy listening like Cat Stevens. I do sing along. It's quite nice, isn't it, to sing along to Cat?

What's the least disposable pop song?

I suppose, memory-wise, my mum was a big fan of Leo Sayer, so any time I hear something of his, that is quite evocative of my mum in the 1980s. Not a particular song. Just his voice. Just Leo. I sat next to him once in John Frieda. He had to have two people to hold down his hair to do his roots. I had a good look. A hilarious way to spend an afternoon.

Who should play you in your Hollywood biopic?

The other night I watched Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and the girl in that [Ziyi Zhang] " she would be quite good. Obviously not because she looks like me, but just because she was brilliant and she would go quite well with my nemesis, who is Mojo Jojo, the little green man from The Powerpuff Girls. He's quite fearsome. They'd be a fantastic pairing, those two. I would win, though. I would chop his head off with one kick " deadly but graceful!

What is your ideal alternative job?

Something to do with neurosurgery. I think there's very little else that's as worthwhile. And, as an actress or an actor, you find yourself thinking, well, I could possibly be doing something a little bit more worthwhile. There's the argument that you're giving lots of people pleasure but, still, it would be wonderful to come home at the end of the day and to have altered someone's life so dramatically. I may be inspired by the neurosurgery in Ian McEwan's Saturday. Christ, it's clever.

And the realistic alternative?

I'd quite like to teach. My son and his friends are so funny. 'Mummy, come and sit in here with me,' he said yesterday. 'I'm feeling all leftover.'

Which painting most corresponds with your vision of yourself?

This is quite exciting, because Stuart Pearson Wright is in the middle of doing a portrait of me. He sent me a letter asking to paint me, so of course I said, yes please! I think he's brilliant and I can't wait to see it. I hope I won't be offended. I don't think you can be when it's someone else's view of you.

What was your cultural passion at 14?

I spent a lot of time smoking and playing Playstation. I don't think I had any culture in my life whatsoever. I was just having a great time and getting stoned, which is what you should do when you're 14.

Which cultural item would you most like to steal?

I've been looking for a long time for a print by Gary Winogrand. It's so difficult to obtain one. I went to New York recently and looked in several places but I can't seem to get one. He's sort-of 1950s/1960s black-and-white portraits, and there's a particular section of his work that's in the Bronx zoo, and that's my favourite. A picture of a sea cow with a security guard standing next to it. His work is gorgeous.

Do you like parties?

I don't. I get so embarrassed, I start knocking back the old dry whites as a confidence boost. The last time we went to a party I ended up congratulating Ralph Fiennes on something Kenneth Branagh had done. I was mortified for about three weeks.

Which building would you most like to tear down?

The Trump Tower on Columbus Circle in New York. It's just vile. It symbolises everything that's wrong with society, like Paris Hilton.

What's the most fashionable thing you own?

It's a black dress by a designer called Jean Colonna that was on the cover of The Face about 10 years ago. Kate Moss and Helena Christensen were both wearing it. That's rather cool. Only, it doesn't fit any more!

And the least cool?

My Justin Timberlake phone ring, or my Vanilla Ice T-shirt, from a concert I went to when I was 12. I wear it when I'm not very well.

Are you yourself cool?

No. Oh no. I tried to be cool and I cut my hair into a bob, and my son looked at me and said: 'Ahhhh! Hello, Willy Wonka.' He was thrilled, and I was mortified.

(From The Independent on Sunday, December 18, 2005.)

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