Ron Howard

I wouldn’t say that meeting Ron Howard was an anti-climax, exactly. I did not, after all, expect the 52-year-old, Oscar-winning director and movie mogul to be like his friend Russell Crowe, an exciting mixture of bluntness and volatility. Nor did I imagine him to be like Don Simpson, the flamboyant Hollywood producer who could put away more proscribed chemicals than a laboratory full of beagles. But there was a big build up to my meeting with him and, with it, a certain anticipation; a tightening Read more [...]

Richard E Grant

In a small, private cinema in Soho, Richard E Grant is introducing Wah-Wah, the autobiographical film he has written, directed and, to all intents, produced (though that’s a long story). ‘The audiences we have tested it on so far have both laughed and cried,’ he says, baring his teeth in a smile that looks more like a grimace. ‘So no pressure.’ This might be a tougher audience than most: a dozen gnarled distributors who watch films every day. But the screening begins and they duly oblige Read more [...]

Mike Figgis

A man distracted by his washing machine, that is Mike Figgis when I meet him in his North London flat on an overcast afternoon. He is sitting on a laundry bin in front of the machine, staring gloomily into its port hole, perhaps in the hope that it will feel sorry for him and start working again. Without much conviction he offers me a coffee and says he will be with me in a minute. I look around. There are deckchairs, bookshelves and, on the floor, a pair of knee-length, tan-and-black riding boots, Read more [...]

Michael Palin

There is, you sense, a discontent at the core of Michael Palin, one that gnaws away at him with steady purpose. It’s not to do with his manner, which is as amiable as you would expect. Indeed, when I tell him what my editor emailed — ‘God, I love her’ — in response to my email saying ‘Am interviewing Palin today’, he laughs vigorously. Says he gets that a lot and that during the US election he found it disconcerting to see headlines such ‘Palin’s daughter pregnant’. As his weathered Read more [...]

Martin Gilbert

An author should be allowed his vanities. In the case of the historian Sir Martin Gilbert, the vanities fill two whole shelves of his library in North London. These are the books he has written since he graduated from Oxford in 1960, more than 75 of them. ‘This is where I start,’ he says, tapping the spine of one. ‘And here is my latest.’ He taps another, Churchill and the Jews, published this month. ‘Two shelves in chronological order. And over here….’ he rakes the backs of his fingers Read more [...]

Laurie David

Two helicopters curve along the Potomac River before rising up over the Lincoln Memorial, blotting the sky and strangling the conversation. ‘Hey George!’ Laurie David shouts as it becomes apparent that they are the presidential helicopters. ‘Watch the goddam film!’ The helicopters bank towards the White House, keeping formation. ‘He still claims not to have watched it,’ she says with a springy, Long Island accent and a throaty laugh. ‘I’m hoping his daughters will watch it and then Read more [...]

Kevin Bacon

There is an etiquette to meeting a Hollywood star for breakfast. Certain do’s and don’t. Do be on time. Don’t be late. That’s about it, really... Unless the Hollywood star is Kevin Bacon. Here you have some latitude, as I discover when I arrive a little late for breakfast with him because my train has broken down. My grovelling apologies are met with a friendly: ‘Hey, no worries, man. It happens. What you going to have? Think I’m going for the vegetarian with poached egg and wheat toast.’ He Read more [...]