‘I danced naked in my front room, but to really dance you need shoes’

<span>‘At home I dance by myself, which is one of the great pleasures of living alone’… Bill Nighy.</span><span>Photo: Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP</span>” src=”https://s.yimg.com/ny/api/res/1.2/XAID6HIyk2apCZMmvWrWBA–/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjt3PTk2MDtoPTU3Ng–/https://media.zenfs.com/en/theguardian_763/370220ab93dbe4dd12b6aeae 526e1fcc” data-src= “https://s.yimg.com/ny/api/res/1.2/XAID6HIyk2apCZMmvWrWBA–/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjt3PTk2MDtoPTU3Ng–/https://media.zenfs.com/en/theguardian_763/370220ab93dbe4dd12b6aeae526e 1fcc”/></div>
<p><figcaption class=‘At home I dance by myself, which is one of the great pleasures of living alone’… Bill Nighy.Photo: Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP

There’s an argument that you’re the person James Bond matures into: women still want to sleep with you and men want to be you. What’s your secret? MarcoPoloMint
I have no idea. I don’t go out much and I don’t identify with whoever they are talking about. I always joked that I could be James Bond’s grandfather and I’ve always wanted to say, ‘The name is Nighy. Bill Nighy.” I’m very happy to hear it, but it’s taking some effort for me to understand it.

When you were younger, you traveled to Paris to write a book but never finished it. Will you ever dust off your great unfinished novel realize your literary ambitions? VerulamiumParkRanger
I had this very romantic idea – I was a walking cliché in my twenties – of running away to Paris to write the great English short story. The sad thing is that I stood in the Trocadéro, outside the Shakespeare and Company bookshop and under the Arc de Triomphe, hoping to catch some atmosphere. I sat down in front of a blank page for an hour and, like at school, made a margin for the teacher’s comments, but the doorbell rang or the phone rang and that was the end of my literary career.

How do you deliver an unspoken dialogue so loudly and more than adequately every time? Turn27
I’m not sure because I never watch anything I’m in. I mean, I’m there when it happens. I’ll keep acting until someone says stop, whether I have lines or not. I’m flattered to hear that my silence is eloquent, but I’m not really in a position to comment further.

Thank you for Pride. What a beautiful movie. One of my favorite scenes has you and Imelda Staunton making sandwiches. What is your perfect sandwich? pleicetene
Decent bread, toasted, with butter, lots of Marmite, cheese, cucumber and salt and pepper. That’s what I call a sandwich. I’m not very good at eating. I eat a lot, but I don’t eat very refined. I’ve made entire movies about grilled cheese sandwiches and Snickers bars.

I was surprised to read that you come from a family of chimney sweeps. Did you clean a lot of chimneys in your youth? Catupa tree
It’s true that I did a lot of chimney work as a boy, but there was a bittersweet moment for all the Nighy children when they realized they were too tall. There is usually a family celebration at this time, which is a joyful occasion, but it is also sad, because it is a farewell to the chimney work; they were good times, good years. You can learn a lot about yourself through a chimney.

You’ve sung like Ray Simms of Strange Fruit in Still Crazy, Billy Mack is actually in love And Dylan at the Magic Roundabout. Would you like to have the opportunity to sing as yourself? VerulamiumParkRanger
I think my days of being a singer are over. A few films required me to be in a recording studio and I have to say those were some of the happiest times of my life. Watching musicians together is absolutely exciting. I listen to music all day: when I get up in the morning; in the car on the way to work; in the hotel room; in the trailer. At home I dance by myself, which is one of the great joys of living alone. I to have danced naked in the privacy of my front room, but you need shoes to actually turn.

Related: ‘I think about death 35 times a day’: Bill Nighy on sex, social media – and still being able to walk up the stairs

Do you receive a lot of mail addressed to Mr. Nighty? TopTramp
I get mail addressed to – and people approach me on the street as – Mr Nighly. The first time I was ever reviewed in a newspaper, I was Bill Nickby. People I have known for a long time still call me Nickby. I get Mr Nightly, which is longer and more complicated. Nightgown. All kinds of things. Someone sent me a newspaper clipping with six or seven names leaving the language, and one of them is mine. There you go.

Considering all your roles as grumpy old men, what makes Bill Nighy grumpy? TurangaLeela2
I don’t think I’ve ever played a grumpy old man. I’ve played some happy old men, some sad old men, but not particularly grumpy. But let’s assume I did. I blush easily. And what makes me grumpy is when people tell you you’re blushing. The people who blush never doubt that they are blushing. No one needs to be told that he or she is blushing and there is no attractive reason to point it out.

Is there a particular role that you have yet to be offered that you would still like to play? Sagarmatha 1953
I want my action career to start. I’m not joking. I was recently watching a movie of mine on Netflix or Prime. They gave you “five other movies you might like if you like this one” and they were all about people dying. I thought, “I think I’ve done as much dying as I really want to.” I’m grateful that I’m the man they come to die, but if I die from now on, I don’t want to die on an IV in my pajamas – I want to die in a hail of machine gunfire or from a plane jumping at 30,000 feet. If there’s a scene where you have to wear pajamas, I always try to come up with a funky alternative because I always feel too exposed. It’s a terrible thing for an actor to say, but here we go.

Custard: thick or thin? billyocean
When I was a boy my Sunday duties were gravy and custard. I’ve never had many complaints. You don’t want it to be too thick. There needs to be some movement. Thin custard is a depressing thought. So somewhere between the two – a liquid consistency that can honor the pudding.

I love your work and would love to see you reading the phone book. How would you approach such a role? Shelley88
I paused a lot and stared into the middle distance to give certain names special meaning. Special images would appear when we come across names that are dying out, like Nighy. I would speed up at some points and inexplicably slow down with some of my – as you say – signature unspoken dialogue. I would change costumes a few times, into a series of lounge suits. I might have some music playing in the background. Maybe I would dance – but not naked. And in the end I’ll die in my pajamas, but only if you insist.

• The First Omen hits UK cinemas from April 5

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