that and turned down a lot ofwork. a lot ofcracking stuff.‘ And there I was. about to ask him how he‘d plead ifaccused of that particularly wicked offence. wilful self-parody.
But perhaps Coltrane has to work so hard to avoid being stereotyped precisely because so many people are ready to pigeon-hole him. After all. ifyou‘re looking to cast a loud. large. farting and belching character. few names would spring to mind so readily as that of Robbie Coltrane.
The man himself. however. thinks such a perception is based more on misinformation from the tabloid press than on any reality. ‘l‘ve never really done that kind ofpart. There are one or two people in Hollywood who have decided l‘m John Belushi. Or if people read The Sun. a terrible rag. When you get a reputation for being a hellraiser it means that the last time the English press saw you you were nearly as drunk as they were. It‘s like. an alcoholic is somebody who drinks more than his doctor.‘
But surely his reputation is not entirely undeserved?
‘Not entirely. I do enjoy a drink — me and about of) million others. The public don‘t perceive me in that way. not in the letters I get. The letters I get say ‘what a nice performance you gave. do keep it up and don‘t let the bastards get you down‘. People
aren‘t daft. Most people who buy The Sun treat it as a a comic. find out what‘s on TV and have a wank over page three. They don‘t really go in for character analysis.‘
For all that his CV shows a wider range ofability than he generally gets credit for. there are certain limitations. A Raging Bull in reverse is not too likely a prospect: while
Robert de Niro gained stones to play
the ageing Jake La Motta. don‘t expect to see (‘oltrane take the lead role in a Benny Lynch biopic.
The press in general are not his favourite people. He believes. indeed. that ‘the basic premise of journalism is a lie. You couldn‘t sum up your mother or your children — anyone you‘ve known all your life — in 5()() words. But that‘s what you‘ve got to do when you interview someone. You‘ve got to think up some kind of contradiction or cliche even when there isn‘t one. So it does inevitably falsify.‘
While he receives letters in a congratulatory vein. the expectations of free entertainment which many people have when they spot him in public mean that he avoids going out much. ‘I don‘t go to pubs. I avoid situations where there might be a lot of people who are drunk. put it that way. [was out with Lenny Henry once and an Italian waiter asked him to do some funny
voices. Lenny said. “If you come round to my place tomorrow and make my dinner.“ ‘
It is. nevertheless. in live performance that Coltrane finds the biggest thrill. and the greatest challenge. When asked how much scope for improvisation there is in Mistero Buffo. he replies with relish. ‘Huge. I'm afraid. huge.‘ ‘l-luge.‘ agrees Morag Fullarton. with mock trepidation at the thought ofwhat Coltrane might get up to.
After the play stops touring in March. he‘s off to America to promote his latest film. Nuns ()n The Run. But he lives in Scotland now. and plans to do more work on behalf of Heriot-Watt University and Edinburgh Art College. ‘l‘m the rectum there. as I like to say; the rector. And I‘m working with the Comic Strip people on a thing about the Pope (John Paul I) who got murdered — well. we assume he got murdered. And I‘ve got a one-man show coming up for London Weekend. Apart from that.‘ he says in all seriousness. ‘l‘m just generally keeping a low profile.‘ Unlikely. Robbie. Unlikely.
M [stem Bu ffo plays the King '5 Theatre. Glasgow, Tue 13—Sat 18 Feb a! 7.30pm.
Dario Fo's text, translated by Ed Emery. is available in paperback from Methuen. price £4.50.
‘There are one ortwo people in Hollywood who have decided I’m John Belushi. When you get a reputation lorheing a hellraiser it means that the last time the English press saw you you were nearly as drunk as they were.’
The List 9 — 221555.115}; T990 7