Tuesday, 21 September 2010
Interview with Henry Goodman
Photo shows Henry Goodman in Duet for One at the Almeida Theatre. By Bridget Jones
Henry Goodman is one of those actors whose faces you know, but whose names you don't.
I was lucky enough to interview him recently for work. It was over the phone, so I can't really say I've met him. However, he was pretty much charming, as well as worried he hadn't prepared, happily ready to giggle when he'd got a good answer for me, and finally, the victim of distraction.
There are so many fascinating things about carrying out interviews. (I don't think I'll ever get bored of it.)
The more you do, the more you learn, of course. This time's lesson was never, ever say "One last question...". By the time I'd finished my flawed final intro, his attention was gone, and the answer he gave was rambling and useless. Lesson learnt.
My previous lesson was to do as much research as you possibly can. (Yes, yes, I know. I should know this already.) Speaking to Jenna Russell, she told me about her husband being in Women Beware Women at the National, a show I'd seen. But I totally didn't know she was married to one of the leads: Raymond Coulthard. Oops.
So, I read and read and read about Henry. For once, I felt completely sure I'd done enough research to handle anything that came up in the interview. Ask me something about this Mr Goodman now, chances are I'll know the answer.
Was I able to talk to him about being a twin? Being born on Shakespeare's birthday? Being fired from a Broadway show? Whether his schizophrenic father had influenced his career choice? If his friendship with Imelda Staunton is as strong as it was last year? If he felt with this latest role has enhanced or lessened his feelings about being typecast as a Jew?
Nope, but that's the funny thing about the way we interview at work. The "My London" question formats are pretty much grown-up Smash Hits, to be honest. Favourites. Best. Most, etc. Sometimes I think I might as well be asking which is their fave member of Take That...
But I'm not saying that's a bad thing. Chances are Henry Goodman's been asked about his Jewishness before. And his twin. And his father.
Instead, I get the chance to get a giggle out of him while he's trying to explain his love for a yachting shop in Covent Garden. And when questions like that work, they're so much more satisfying. In this media-trained or, at least, media-savvy world, a slightly less common question can be nicely revealing of a real person behind the carefully presented persona.
Here's another picture of him looking a bit less serious as Sir Humphrey in Yes Prime Minister. Picture by Manuel Harlan