Q&A: John Hannah

The star of Spartacus: Gods of the Arena shares his TV loves and loathes

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What’s your guilty pleasure?

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Midsomer Murders. I can even indulge when filming abroad as most countries show it. It’s like comfort food – like a plate of shepherd’s pie.

Who was the last person you changed the channel to avoid?

There are quite a few so-called comedians that I think are as funny as a kick in the balls: Jo Brand, Jenny Eclair, Graham Norton…

Who would you like to take out to dinner?

Robert Harris. I’ve always held his friendship with Tony Blair against him, although I liked his novels. But I reassessed my opinion after hearing him on the radio recently talking about how upset he was when Blair betrayed everything he ever stood for.

So you wouldn’t take Tony Blair out?

I’d take him out and shoot him.

Who hasn’t lived up to your expectations?

Tracey Emin once blanked me at a film premiere. She often gets a kicking in the tabloid press and I just wanted to say: I think you’re great. So I did – like a little schoolboy – and she looked at me like I was an arse. I should have said something more intelligent.

What are the family favourites in the Hannah household?

We’re really loving Phineas and Ferb: post-bath, pre-bedtime with a cup of milk and a biscuit. I find it as funny as my six-year-old twins.
I got into The Magic Roundabout years ago while filming The Mummy in Morocco. We were doing night shoots and it was the only show on first thing in the morning.

What would be your price to go on I’m a Celebrity…?

I’d rather cut my testicles off, fry them with onions and eat them. In ten years’ time, who knows? I hope I’d have some humility and get a proper job.

I’m not interested in fame. I don’t want to be a celebrity and I’m not really that driven by money. So if I do, shoot me.

Spartacus isn’t a demure drama. Did you have any reservations about all the flesh on show?

I’ve done full-frontal sex on BBC and ITV, which might not have been as explicit in the showing, but it’s as explicit when you’re doing it; when it’s you and some naked actress you only met half an hour before.

So it wasn’t anything I hadn’t done before, but that doesn’t necessarily make it easier. My first day on Sliding Doors, I had to get into bed with Gwyneth Paltrow.

What about the bad language?

I started censoring that myself. I loved the creative, pre-Christian, black curses the writers came up with; I even enjoyed the four-letter words.

But if you’re cussing a dozen times in a minute, it loses its impact. I talked to the director and started taking obscenities out.

Do you enjoy playing a baddy?

I’ve always believed we are all, as individuals, capable of everything; we’re all capable of sublime good and of evil, depending on what happens to us.

What I enjoy about being an actor is that I can explore that – to see what my characters can and can’t, will and won’t do.

Are you finished with rom-coms?

I’d love to do one again. I suppose I’m the wrong age now – nobody wants to see somebody in their late 40s getting in bed with somebody else, do they? I’m probably too old.

Is it true that you expected Four Weddings and a Funeral to be a flop?

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At the time I’d been out of work for eight months, so it wasn’t as if I was going to turn it down, and yet… Let’s just say the script wasn’t my kind of thing. That goes to show what I know.