From The Guardian, 28 March 2006

Submitted by Kathryn

Pieces of Me

Pieces of Me

In our regular series, we ask notable people to look back at their lives through the objects that matter most to them. This week we hear from Charles Dance, who appears in "The Exonerated" at the Riverside Studios, London, from tonight until Sunday.

  1. I am a creature of habit. Sometimes. And I have to have a bowl of fruit for breakfast.
  2. The last slate of my first, and hopefully not last, film as writer and director, joining the army of actors who go down that road. Most of the time we actors complain that we are hanging around. This gave me new sympathy for directors: I will never whinge again.
  3. Leonard Bennett, right, and Martin Burchardt, left, are my acting gurus. Leonard charged me two pints of beer per lesson, and I used to dig the garden for Martin.
  4. The Toda are a tribe in the south of India, who I discovered while filming The Jewel in the Crown. They are an extraordinary people, and this Toda shawl reminds me of them.
  5. Steve McQueen was my boyhood hero. He and Peter Finch started me thinking about being an actor. Well, a film actor -- my mother taking me to see Brian Rix dropping his trousers in a farce made me want to prance about on stage.
  6. This bowl of cherries, made of rubies and gold, was given to me by Shirley MacLaine, when I acted in the movie of the first of her autobiographies, Out on a Limb. I fell in love with Shirley when I was a schoolboy, watching her in The Apartment. I still get a buzz out of meeting some people -- if I were to ever work with Fanny Ardant I'm sure she could render me speechless and wild with desire.
  7. This little figurine was given to me by a group of Inuit after we finished Kabloonak. I spent four months on an icebreaker filming it, and I'm proud of the film, and I have a great affection for the Arctic and the Inuit. I have often done a film because of where it's being shot -- unless the script is just too bad. But even then I did take one job just because of where the film was set.
  8. I have loved photography since I went to art school. I have never exhibited, though. It would look like a vanity exercise. If I thought at some point that I had taken a lot of photographs that were really good, I'd consider it, if I was asked.
  9. "A Dream in the Luxembourg" is a romantic novel in verse by Richard Aldington, which I found in Chichester, in 1972 I think. It is an exquisite piece of writing -- I tend to shove it in a suitcase when I'm going away -- but if you are not romantic you may think it absolute tosh.
  10. I play the guitar from time to time, bust not as often or as well as I would like. And never when anybody else is around.
  11. This is a sword stick with a Toledo blade, which started a small collection of sword sticks. I stupidly used on in Bleak House, and it went missing. I wish whoever nicked it would give it back, because they are very difficult to find.
  12. Jasmine tea is a wonderful stuff. This is called Dragon's Pearl, and I get it from a shop in Camden Town.
  13. My children and my now ex-wife. They are the most important people in my life. No more need be said.

Photos © 2006 Martin Godwin for the Guardian

Back to The Archive