What do you wake up to?
The news. A lot of American news has become everything but news, so I go with either the BBC – if I can find it – or CBC [Canadian Broadcasting Corporation]. What can’t you miss?
Shameless. I find it reassuring that you can tell a story about a family as dysfunctional as that one and watch them function on some level. What’s your guilty pleasure?
Every once in a while I’ll throw on a Whitesnake record. I have a lot of friends that are pretty snotty musicians who looked down on that big-haired hard-rock band, but I liked it. Childhood favourite?
Coronation Street. It ran on CBC for three hours every Sunday when I was growing up. I think it still does. I liked the lady who ran the bar… Which drama would you bring back?
I was a huge fan of The Wire. It really was extraordinary television so I was disappointed when it finished. I would have loved a cameo in that show. What do you curl up to time and again?
Lawrence of Arabia, The Godfather parts one and two, The French Connection and Don’t Look Now, a film of my father’s that isn’t the greatest rainy-afternoon film but it’s a really, really powerful piece. Which role do you covet?
I love Gene Hackman’s role in The French Connection, but he did it so beautifully, you certainly wouldn’t want to redo it. But I was really drawn to that character: he was not your quintessential great-looking man but a real guy, very tough yet very charming as well. Who would you take out for dinner?
Paul Newman. There are so many things I’d love to ask someone like that but the first question would be: did you have as much fun as it looked like you had when you made Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid? In Touch you play a single father with a special-needs child. Why did you choose a character so different to Jack Bauer in 24?
There are underlying consistencies. In the same way Jack was confronted by insurmountable odds, Martin is never going to have the typical, idyllic relationship that a father and a son hope to have. Yet he still fights to have a better relationship with his son, so both characters have courage even though it’s utilised in different ways. Touch suggests there’s some sort of mathematical pattern determining everyday events. Do you believe that?
When I read the script, I found it fascinating, unbelievable, hopeful: the idea that what seems to us to be an insignificant moment can have a profound effect on someone else. The whole concept of connectivity made me feel a stronger sense of responsibility in how I am in my life. What lulls you to sleep?
By the time I get home from work I’m so tired I just pass out! I used to listen to music to help me fall asleep and I still play guitar late, late at night when everybody else goes home. I used to have a lot more guitars but I ended up giving them to guys who played a lot better than I did. Now I only have 20 or so that I will keep for the rest of my life because they’re special to me.
This is an edited version of an article from the issue of Radio Times magazine that went on sale 13 March 2012.
Touch begins tonight at 8pm on Sky1.