Actor Bill Nighy proved to be just as amusing and charming in person as he is in his movies when he appeared at the Four Seasons Hotel in Los Angeles for the About Time press conference last week.
In the new film from Richard Curtis, Nighy plays the father of Tim (Domhnall Gleeson), a 21-year old man who comes to discover that he can travel in time. While the movie largely focuses on the relationship that develops between Tim and a woman named Mary (Rachel McAdams), it’s also about the relationship that Tim has with his dad and how important it is to live each day like it’s your last.
During the press conference, the always delightful Nighy spoke with journalists about his working relationship with Curtis, what he would change in his life if he could time travel, how much he was allowed to improv in the film and much more.
Check it out below and enjoy.
It took us by surprise that this movie is more of a father and son story because we expected it to be something else. When you read the script, did you see it as a father-son film?
Bill Nighy: The main narrative is Domhnall Gleeson and Rachel McAdams and that relationship is kind of the central one, but I was very pleased with my part in it. When I act, I don’t access scenes from my early life or anything, but it was nice to say something about being a dad. I was lucky, I had a very decent, very quietly remarkable father who I was close to, and so in a sense I hope that to some degree it honors my father because he was not unlike that kind of character.
How did you find it sharing the screen with Domhnall Gleeson?
Bill Nighy: He was completely dreamy to do business with. He’s a lovely young man and he’s a great actor. Those scenes we have together are quite high powered some of them. He operates without fuss and there was very little discussion about it. We just kind of went into them and we seemed to do pretty well together. I was very, very, seriously impressed by him, and he’s a very nice guy. And Punch Drunk Love is his favorite film, which is also one of my favorite films as well.
The time travel in this movie is used both for do overs and reliving things. If you could do either, what would you do?
Bill Nighy: I guess everybody would do this, but I would go back to my younger self and say, “Lighten up, take it easy, relax, don’t be so anxious and try and be in the day,” which is exactly what the film suggests; try and not have today stolen from you by anxiety about yesterday or tomorrow, which is easier said than done as my mother would say. Also, I would certainly go back to the guy who offered me a cigarette and say, “Are you out of your mind?!” There’s no question about that. That would have made my life a lot easier.
I would also use it shamelessly as a living jukebox and I’d go back to 1962 to the Apollo Theater just to see James Brown and his Famous Flames perform that now legendary concert. I’d go to see all that stuff I missed because I was just too young at the time.
To be serious, the things you really want to relive are things like bedtime with your daughter when they become incredibly entertaining because they don’t want to go to sleep. They’re at their most enchanting because they just want to put it off and they just want to do a cabaret for you, and you sit there just thinking please don’t let this end, and you don’t want them to go to sleep either because it’s too good.
Have you had the pleasure yet of watching this film with an audience?
Bill Nighy: No, I haven’t. I don’t normally watch films I’m in because I’m squeamish about that and it takes me quite a long time to recover. I’m not being coy or cute, but it’s just true. But I did watch this film because I did have to talk over it. Well, I didn’t have to but Richard wanted me to talk over the DVD, you know, when you do the thing on the extras (a commentary track), and I figured it would be too much of a shock if I watched it while talking about it. That would be even more of a nightmare. So I did watch it, but I haven’t watched it in front of an audience.