I’m a big fan of rock ’n’ roll and reggae, and I still seek out live music whenever I can. But I have kids so I listen to more pop than I probably would without them. I play all the music I like to my eldest son, Levi, who’s 8; he has been very drawn to the Police and the Cars, and he’s got me into the Foals.
He’s learning the piano at the moment, too, so we’re always coming up with melodies together, and trying to match them with percussion. I have a recording studio at my house and I love a good set of bongos – I pick drums up on my travels. And when I play, I’ll whistle or hum along to the beat.
I like to rap and rhyme, too. But I’m more of a hummer than a singer. I even came up with my own theme song for my character Buster. He hums to himself while he works but he is also teaching Scarlett Johansson’s character, Ash, a song to perform at the competition he is holding to save his theatre.
He suggests a little Carly Rae Jepsen number, Call Me Maybe. The song wasn’t originally in the script, but they just asked me, “Hey, do you want to sing this?” And, despite not being the most confident singer, doing a recording where you are just in the booth, you’re not self-conscious at all.
It doesn’t matter if you wear pyjamas and sunglasses, or if your hair is all over the place – you are not being filmed, you’re just recording the sound.
My singing voice isn’t bad. I’ve never had any training, but I used to do quite a bit of singing on screen – I sang a big song in Shrek and used to imitate a lot of singers on French & Saunders.
I’m good at imitating singers, rather than actually being a singer myself! I like to think I can carry a tune, but it is often my own tune, and bears no relation to the actual song… And I am going slightly deaf, which never helps.
I am never in time, either. Timing is overrated, though. Tunes are overrated, too – make up your own. I think I’m the only character that doesn’t sing in this film, but since she’s a former opera star, that might be a good thing.
I do like singing to myself off-screen. I find a track that I know I can do a harmony for and I fantasise that I’m in the band. I prefer ballads. I love a bit of Joni Mitchell, and I used to play a lot of country; Emmylou Harris is great for singing along to. I prefer melancholy songs to upbeat ones. And rap annoys me – stop talking, get back to the tune!
I literally never stop singing. Never. My friends and family are truly sick of it. If there was ever a novelty to me being able to hold a tune, it wore off many years ago.
I am the guy who, after a few drinks, always gets up on stage – or anywhere there’s a microphone – and sings, much to everyone else’s dismay. It’s definitely a Welsh thing, it’s in the blood, but people audibly groan around me when I start singing now.
I sing in the shower too, of course – Faith by George Michael is one of my go-to numbers, but I am a bit of a golden oldie fan, too – I love the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Elvis, Otis Redding, the Drifters, Sam Cooke.
At school, I was in choirs from the age of about seven or eight, and as a teenager, I was in musicals in my home town of Aberystwyth – I played the Artful Dodger in Oliver! at 15, just before my voice broke; I was a very late developer.
In my third year at Rada, everyone gets to be the lead in one production, and my lead role was in a musical – Saturday Night by Stephen Sondheim, which is one of his lesser-known ones; he wrote it when he was only 23.
Singing has always been something I’ve wanted to do professionally, but this is the first time I have ever been paid to do it. I play a gorilla, Johnny, who comes from a family of bank-robbing cockney gorillas, but he just wants to sing. As Johnny, I sing Stay with Me by Sam Smith, and a bit of John Legend’s All of Me, which is such a beautiful song. I also do a bit of the Zombies’ The Way I Feel Inside, and my final number…well, you’ll have to wait and see.
Sing is in cinemas on Friday 27th January