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December 2004

It’s Christmas Eve in the UK (as I suspect it is everywhere else now too) and I’ve just finished rehearsals for “Whose Life is it Anyway” – bummer that we had to work today. The play is going well and Kim is every bit as you’d expect her to be if you’ve seen any of her shows – sexy, sassy and scarcely able to contain herself. One of the best improvisers I’ve ever seen – who said Americans can’t do irony? There’s one scene where I ‘examine’ her (I’m a doctor again!!) and being the polite pseudo-gentleman that I am, I avoid getting any where near the sensitive bits, and I’m waiting (for ever) for her next line until finally she yells out, “I’m waiting for you to touch my breast, god-dammit!” – truly a funny woman. We open in January, and who knows what the hell will happen. Terrifying to be on stage again .. trying to remember more than two minutes of dialogue and trying even harder to deal with this modern Mae West. (Anyone who actually knows me can only imagine how tough that might be!)

Syriana was an extraordinary experience. Firstly we filmed in so many different countries that I honestly forgot where I was and on one occassion tried to give the wrong currency to the wrong guy for a meal. We were dealing with extremely sensitive material in extremely sensitive locations. There seemed to be security people every where you looked. My brother (Thomas) got ‘nailed’ for trying to take an innocent photo – it was as if he were aiming a rifle at the pope. Happily once he got up and dusted himself down and explained himself, he was treated like a visiting dignitary. [Note to self: stop inviting your brother to your film sets … he’s more charming and better looking than you .. need I say more?]

Anyway I have fond memories of the project. Really hard work (especially when speaking Arabic), a director who I think will become a name to conjur with in years to come and civilised people all over the place.

On one night George Clooney was at the same restaurant as a few of us, when it came to pay the check and leave we were told that he had paid for the entire restaurant – not too shabby! If he does this kind of thing all the time – I may be convinced to become a stalker. I have no interest in his underwear or signature, but a lifetime of free meals would be extremely cool.

Matt Damon was the ‘ace in the hole’. I had no idea what a decent man he was. Not just decent but intimidatingly clever. He has an encyclopedic mind for the things that interest him. If Damon ever directs a film – see it – simple as that. Well that’s all the ‘gossip’ I’m prepared to tell of.

It’s a mild Christmas Eve here in the UK and the family are gathering for a heady meal tomorrow. I hope all goes well. Even more importantly, I hope all goes well for you all too. You’ve all been so kind and generous over the years – the Christmas cards I’ve been receiving are an extraordinary testament to that – not a bad haul for someone who quite recently (after nearly 40 years) discovered that he was Muslim! Ho! Ho! Ho! Not quite sure what to make of that.

But please, please try and do one important thing .. have a good time .. look on the brightest possible side and be as generous to yourself as I know you are to others.

Okay that’s 3 things. Sue me … oh .. I’m sorry, you can’t sue me … it’s Christmas!!