Friday, 06 April 2012

First Impressions: Anna Chancellor

The actress ANNA CHANCELLOR shot to fame playing ‘Duckface’ in Four Weddings And A Funeral. She has since been in countless productions, including The Hour, Pride And Prejudice, and Spooks, and is about to appear in South Downs and The Browning Versi

What are you working on at the moment?

I am filming the second series of The Hour for BBC Two. I play Lix, a hard-drinking, heavy-smoking foreign correspondent.

When were you at your happiest?

For me, happiness is all to do with the level of noise in my head. If my brain is calm and peaceful, I feel relaxed no matter where I am. It's usually when I don't have too much to do; I simply hate rushing.

What is your greatest fear?

Having to appear on I'm A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here!

What is your earliest memory?

Lying on top of our Labrador when I was four years old.

What do you most dislike about yourself?

I actively do everything in my power not to dislike myself. What on earth is the point? I always just move swiftly on.

What has been your greatest influence?

I am so easily influenced that I pick up infl uences from everything, everywhere. Either because I see or hear something and think, 'Oh, that's a good idea,' or 'Oh, that's a really terrible idea – I probably ought to avoid it.'

What is your most treasured possession?

I can't afford to be too attached to possessions because I lose everything. I lost a really expensive cashmere shawl the other day and I thought, incredibly extravagantly, that I'd just order another one. Of course, the moment I did, the old one turned up.

What do you deplore most in others?

I deplore people who say people are deplorable. I can't bear that word.

Do you have a fantasy address?

I'd like a palm-fringed view of the Mediterranean, specifi cally North Africa if it wasn't being torn apart by tyranny. But I suppose I can have that in a fantasy world.

What do you most dislike about your appearance?

That's just not an interesting question.

What is your all-time favourite book?

I thought Madame Bovary was excellent. Flaubert had a real commitment to the character of Madame Bovary, and she has since been so humanised that it's easy to forget she's fiction.

What is your favourite film?

I very much like a documentary about a French schoolteacher called Etre Et Avoir. Apparently the teacher was furious – he unwittingly became the hero of this fi lm that he didn't ask for. I think that film is a marvellous portrait of a man, whether he liked it or not.

What is your favourite record or piece of music?

There's a blues singer called Etta Baker. She's got one CD, and it's called One Dime Blues. She brings this incredible lyrical femininity to blues music. You can listen to it as you go to sleep, it's so beautiful.

Your favourite meal?

An Arabic breakfast – my husband's Algerian, you see. Good coffee, an amazing fruit salad and then poached egg fl ecked with chilli. It's delightfully English but foreign all at the same time.

Who would you most like to come to dinner?

John Cassavetes. I don't care what we'd talk about – he's just so attractive.

Which historical character do you most admire?

A man called Louis Zamperini. He was an Italian immigrant in America who became an Olympic athlete in the 1930s, then a fighter pilot in the Second World War, and then a Japanese prisoner of war... It goes on and on! He's as brave and amazing as anyone could be. And he's still alive.

What is the nastiest thing anyone has ever said to you?

'Anna, you've failed yet another O level.'

Do you believe in aliens?

Yes, I've been out with a few.

What is your secret vice?

Would it then be a secret?

Do you write thank-you notes?

I do, but months later. It's always too late, but I'm still mortified if I forget.

Which phrase do you most overuse?

'Is there any left?'

What single thing would improve the quality of your life?

More clear, sunny days.

What would you like your epitaph to say?

The words of a Mahalia Jackson song: 'Lord, in your vast consideration, consider me.'

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