Filming was ‘fun’ he says, before confiding that Sir Elton John complimented his performance, ‘and he knows those types of music producers. ‘Another part of my brain opened up, another part of my spirit.Someone described directing as being pecked to death by questions,’ he says. It’s stressful but I do enjoy it.’ His current project (‘I am still trying to pull together the finances to make it’) is about Rudolf Nureyev, the Russian ballet dancer, and his defection from the USSR in 1961.
Little bit closer still’) that I persuade him to bump up.
Even then he mumbles so that some words are lost on the tape. He’s hunched, eyes roving, hands constantly in motion, whether massaging his great shag of beard or meeting each other in a papery fondle.
He praised Fiennes for pulling off ‘a remarkable 2016’ with two moral monsters: the ‘arrogant architect Solness in The Old Vic revival of Ibsen’s The Master Builder’ as well as the ‘crooked title character in Shakespeare’s Richard III’ at the Almeida.
Lawson commended his ‘ability to dramatise psychological crisis’ in Solness and his ‘physical danger and presence’ as Richard III.
The bathroom has white plaster.’ There’s a gym nearby, and he stays ‘fit generally, with various different things, including yoga’.
He’s not particularly vain about having to strip naked for a role, he says, although, ‘I guess if you know that the camera is going to be on you, a bit of you likes to feel you look okay, but there’s a point where you have to accept that’s who you are’.
I think he’s a decent man with a socialist conscience, but I’m sceptical that he’d be able to lead the Labour Party.
I know him to be a good constituency MP, but what we need is a strong coherent opposition. There’s divisiveness in the Labour Party that is not helpful. And other people don’t notice.’ He wallows in a long pause.
When he enters the room, dressed for the weather in a smart check coat, he stands stock-still so that I’m forced to walk all the way to him to shake his hand. Of course, the complicated Fiennes is not a character, he is an actor (a magisterial one, winning, most recently, the Evening Standard Theatre Award for Best Actor for The Master Builder and Richard III) and so who knows if these quirks have bearing.
Although one thing is telling: when he first sits, it’s all the way down at the other end of a long sofa and it’s only with coaxing (‘Closer.
That said, when a cloaked Sinead O' Connor, as Emily Bronte, the film's narrator, first comes stalking across the moors accompanied by Ryiuchi Sakamoto's haunting score, you're ready to toss all jaded scepticism out the window and believe anything for almost two hours.