Did you watch a lot of movies as a child?

It was tny Mum who was the big movie buff. She used to take us to the National Film Theatre where they had a junior club. so we used to go and see all these films like National

Velvet and Goodbye Mr Chips. The Wizard Of

()3, and Bambi. Mum loves old black and white lilms with Bette Davis. Katherine Hepburn. Ingrid Bergman. We would watch all those films over and over again.

You came to acting via the stage. You brought your Cambridge company, Talking Tongues, to Edinburgh, right?

Yes. We wanted to do something experimental and avant-garde. we didn‘t want to just keep staging the same plays that students do over and over again. It‘s the thing I‘m most proud of actually. The fact that we were real entrepreneurs. we had to get a bank account and we had to raise money to go to the lidinburgh Festival and then we were rtmning around lidinburgh with llyers trying to make people come and see our show and if you got eight people it was really exciting. And the fact that the work was all ours. we made it up and it was very unique. actually. They were really. really good plays as well. maybe we will do them again sometime.

Post college, your first film was Stealing Beauty.

It was pretty frightening. becattse it was Bernardo Bertolucci and Jeremy Irons. not like a low-budget linglish film or something. It was quite overwhelming even though I had a small part. I didn‘t really know what I was doing but sometimes that doesn’t matter. especially on film. It was quite strange. this boiling hot Tuscan summer and this odd. eclectic collection of people.

What kind of career ambitions did you have then?

At first my dream was to have a company that was ours and to break new ground. And then I suppose as you get older you get less radical. I hate that but you do. I’ve gone a lot more mainstream than I ever thought I would have been capable of. But the dream is still to do both film and theatre. and a play I‘m doing with Neil LaBute is part of that. He is quite ground-breaking and new writing in theatre is really important. I just love it. My dream has always been to meet a John Cassavetes and work with him over and over again like Gena Rowlands did. I‘m going to do film after the play. probably in the autumn with Natural Nylon. Jude Law and Johnny Lee Miller and that mob. It‘s called Marlowe and is about the playwright (‘hristopher Marlowe.

Tell me about the Neil LaBute play.

Basically since I finished The Mummy Returns 1 have said no to every single film because I wanted to do a play. I just though. ‘No. I'm going to sit tight and wait for the right play". It was worth the wait because Neil is the most exciting young American writer/director

around. The play is called The Shape Of

Things. it hasn't been performed before because he has just written it. It’s fantastic. lt’s contemporary. set on a small town college campus in the mid-West. I play a graduate

‘Kids love it, grown

ups love it, clever people love it as well.’

student of sculpture. And it’s about how couples try and change each other: it‘s a very dark comedy. We started rehearsing in the middle oprril and it‘s on May through .lune.

So you’ll be on stage when The Mummy Returns opens?

I‘ll be rehearsing when it opens in the States and I'm trying to negotiate a day off so I can be there. But that‘s what happened with Mummy 1. l was on stage in the West lind and I couldn‘t go to the premier in LA. It was quite funny.

Have you had a break since filming The Mummy Returns?

I've had about four or live months off. I bought a flat in London three years ago and I hadn‘t done anything to it: I was living in hotel rooms so I‘ve just really been a homemaker. I‘ve had it decorated. l bottglit wallpaper and was doing my garden and I‘ve made a really beautiful home. which I never thought I would do. I've loved doing that. I had a birthday party there a few weeks ago and everyone couldn't believe how lovely it was becattse I‘m not a very homey person. Sounds pathetic doesn't it‘.’

The Mummy Returns, general release from Fri 18 May, see review, page 32.

‘A good, old-fashioned, romance action caper’

.2-1 Va, THE LIST 13