Sunday Times June 22, 1990

Submitted by Adrien

My style

Charles Dance talks to June Ducas about athleticism, ambition and acupuncture

I think I�m a very odd-looking cove. I don�t pass a mirror and say to myself: "There�s a pretty hunky-looking guy.�" But ever since The Jewel in the Crown, when a journalist called me "the thinking woman�s crumpet"—a line that has stuck—I have accepted it. Though I don�t see myself as a romantic leading man, those are the parts I tend to get offered. I�m not going to knock it—it gives me bread and butter—but I was not considered for a comedy I wanted to do because the writer regarded me as a matinee idol.

I don�t follow fashion as it costs a bloody fortune and I hate shopping. Besides which, I�m 6�3", with especially long arms and legs, so I�m not an off-the-peg size. I live and die in jeans and sweatshirts, and prefer classical clothes that don�t date and that I feel comfortable in. They are made by my tailor, Mr. Davis, a wonderful man who is about to retire from Morris Angel—he published a history of men�s tailors from the 17th century up to now—or I buy them at the end of a film.

I have a couple of suits which I wore in White Mischief and Plenty, a wonderful straw derby from Good Morning Babylon and a nice panama from White Mischief. My favourite colour is blue—preferably navy blue. If you were to look in my wardrobe everything is in various shades of that colour.

I don�t wear rings or earrings, just a Rhajistani silver bangle which the casting director gave me on the first night of Coriolanus in Stratford. She knew that I had lost a precious one which I had bartered for when I was filming The Jewel in the Crown. I scour shops for a cheap watch that doesn�t look tacky but works.

I have been smoking since I was a choir boy of 11. Because I abuse my body in that way, I treat it well in others. I run two or three miles a day. I go to the gym several times a week. When I am paid to do something that is going to make demands on me physically, I ought to be in good shape. If I am going to take my shirt off, there had better be something worth seeing.

As a boy I was naturally quite a good sportsman. I played rugby and I still hold one or two athletic records. But my school days were not the best of my life. I was bone idle, got into all sorts of trouble and was easily led. I left with two O-levels., one in English and the other in Art. I learnt to ride in Devon where I was brought up. I had some polo lessons for White Mischief and the pro who taught me at the Guards Club said I was a natural.

I have been having acupuncture for about six years. An actor�s job is stressful. It induces unnatural highs and lows which aren�t good for anybody, so I use acupuncture to restore the balcony. It also helps the body to fight off infection and tiredness.

If I don�t eat three meals a day I lose weight—especially playing Coriolanus, which is like running 10 miles every night. It�s a bloody marathon. I have to have gasoline in the tank otherwise the engine doesn�t work. During the interval I drink a pint of Guinness, which is good for iron and also lubricates the throat, and I have a cigarette. I don�t drink much. I have an occasional glass of wine, if it�s good, and I am a member of the Scots Malt Whiskey Society, from where I get special brands that are 25 years old. They are nectar and a wee dram goes down well.

I like clean food, nothing rich, and I hardly eat any red meat, but I am not a vegetarian. When I go to a restaurant, it is often the Caprice. I like the way it is fronted by Jeremy King, who is one of the best Maitre d� hotels in London.

My wife Jo is a terrific cook. I eat best at home. For breakfast I will have a healthy cereal, some fresh fruit, bacon and eggs, brown toast and tea or Korean ginseng, followed swiftly by a 1,500 mg dose of vitamin C on time releaseso it is —bubbling away all the time.

I have been married for 20 years. Jo comes from a generation of Devon farmers and we now live with our two children in Somerset. It is an area of outstanding natural beauty, absolutely quiet and fairly remote. We have five and a half acres, 13 ducks, three geese, two labradors and a wonderful old cat aged 12 called Johnson—because we used to live next door to someone who had a dog called Boswell.

The house purports to be 16th-century, but really only the foundations and the walls are—the rest is Edwardian. The garden had beautiful formal terraces, a ha-ha, and lawns on several levels which roll down into paddocks. On a moonlit night it looks like a scene form The Draughtsman�s Contract.

Dennis, a tough, hardy, old-age pensioner, does the garden two days a week. I decided to turn part of our paddock into a vegetable garden, and I told him I would hire a rotavator. He said "No, we�ll do it b�hand." It was a hell of a lot of digging and nearly broke my back, but Dennis just dug and dug—he hardly sweated at all. I have apprenticed myself to him.

I tend to go to bed at about 10 o�clock because I wake up at five or six in the morning. My natural body clock suits making films rather than working in the theatre.

I also go to the cinema more than the theatre. My taste varies from Crocodile Dundee and ET to the best of European cinema, especially German films. If I want intense, understated acting, I�d rather see it through a lens. I like big theatrical theatre—that�s what it�s all about. The RSC production of Singer is one of the best things I have seen lately. Antony Sher turns in yet another extraordinary performance.

I am ambitious. One has to be—there are a hell of a lot of good actors about. I am not as successful as I would like to be and I want to continue to be in demand until I�m old and infirm. I want access to the best plays, films and parts which are going to stretch me. I worry as much as anybody in this paranoid, fraught profession, but it�s insecurity that really eats me up, not ambition.

� 1990 June Ducas for the Sunday Times

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