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If Bill Nighy Designed Earth


By John Millar - Posted on 06 September 2005

John Miller: In the film your character says he'd rather be happy than right. Could that be an actor's philosophy?

Bill Nighy: I had, in fact, come to that conclusion before I did the movie. There are many times when I settled for happy - forget right, it's boring. And I'm so often wrong so it was never really a problem. It's hardly ever occurred to me. It was a groove.

Miller: You play a galactic architect, so which bits of the world would you like to have made?

Nighy: I think if I were to re-design the Earth, I might lose the English Channel. And I'm toying with the idea of making it a little cooler in the Middle East. It might not work but, hey, nothing else seems to have. And maybe some more rain in California. Why erase the Channel? I think it's not good for our manners to be stuck out there. We should be dragged back to the mainland and made to muck in with the rest of them. And learn some new languages, which we disgracefully never do.

Miller: Did the film create any personal echoes for you?

Nighy Is there any parallel between me and the man who designed the Earth? If that's how you see me! I think one of the most pleasing things about the book, and one of the central jokes, is that you have these extraordinary people in extraordinary places doing extraordinary things but when they communicate with one another, it's very familiar and regular and normal. It also has an essential Englishness that I really recognise. And I suppose there's a parallel in my life in that it makes me laugh.

That kind of delivery and the irony and wryness of it is perhaps something I would aspire to. And the bureaucracy, that's for sure. He (Douglas Adams) manages to make it allegorical without making you want to kill yourself, or burn the book. He manages to pull that trick off, either without you knowing, or you're subliminally receiving that information, and it's entertaining and also true.

Miller: What would you do if you only had 12 minutes to live before the end of the world?

Nighy: I'd put the kettle on for a cup of Yorkshire tea - they owe me money. I'd put on a Stones record - don't ask me which one, although if forced, Sticky Fingers. Then I'd phone my dogs to say goodbye, formally. I'd reach for the poems, the Complete Works of Harold Pinter, and I'd read myself a couple of Harold's poems, which I'm sure would cheer me up. I'd check my hair. You don't want to go with your hair in a mess. And then I'd kick back and relax.

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