Born in Liverpool, Jason Isaacs, 57, studied at Central School of Speech and Drama. He appeared in the 2000 film The Patriot, and played Lucius Malfoy in the Harry Potter movies; his television series include Star Trek: Discovery, and The OA. He stars in Skyfire, out on digital, DVD and Blu-ray on 28 November. He lives in London with his wife and two children.
What is your greatest fear?
My children feeling fear.
What is your earliest memory?
My parents had gone out for the night. They’d bought a new corduroy sofa, and I got a bread knife and, out of curiosity, sawed open the arm to see the sponge inside. I was seven.
What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
Interrupting to get a laugh.
What is the trait you most deplore in others?
Lack of compassion.
What was your most embarrassing moment?
When my wife was pregnant, I told a very important Hollywood mogul that the baby’s name was going to be Lily, because it was my grandma’s name. He said, “That’s so wonderful.” And I said, “Obviously, if it had been Bertha we would have thought again.” There was a strange pause, and he said, “You remember my wife’s name is Bertha, don’t you?”
What is your most treasured possession?
A deeply buried, authentic and always accessible Liverpool accent.
What do you most dislike about your appearance?
I am confronted with my own ageing all the time on the big and little screens in horrendous high definition.
What was the best kiss of your life?
The first kiss with my wife on Halloween 1987 behind some venetian blinds at a stage manager’s party in Maida Vale.
What is your guiltiest pleasure?
My wife goes to sleep very early, and I watch all the singing competition shows under the duvet.
Which book changed your life?
The Harry Potter books.
What did you want to be when you were growing up?
What is the worst thing anyone’s said to you?
I am trolled constantly on the internet, so any version of, “I want you dead and, if I meet you, I’ll make it happen.”
To whom would you most like to say sorry, and why?
Anybody who met me before I was 30, because I was a drug addict, and all my relationships were experienced through that prism.
What has been your closest brush with the law?
Given what my life was like before I gave up drugs and drink at 35, it’s extraordinary that I am not talking to you in an orange jumpsuit through a sheet of glass.
Sofia Helin: ‘I stole clothes when I was a sad and angry teenager’
Who would you invite to your dream dinner party?
I am quite liking lockdown. I love the fact that I just get to eat with my wife and children. That’s my dream dinner party.
What has been your biggest disappointment?
That we waited so long to have children, we only have two.
If you could edit your past, what would you change?
I wouldn’t have spent so much time trying to be a professional skateboarder or snooker player.
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
That way madness lies.
What song would you like played at your funeral?
What is the most important lesson life has taught you?
To be of service – self-service is a black hole. And also, crisps: just say no.