I was a little apprehensive about interviewing Bertie Gray. He has a reputation for going “off the record” more often than not, as a colleague forewarned in her recent piece: Let me get into your head! Pretty please?
On a first meeting, the Harrovian does not disappoint. He has beautiful old school manners. “Ohh, crumpets?” he says. “How delightful! I’m going to have one right now.”
It’s a dreary winter morning in New York, and Gray is holed up in a five star hotel room with an array of American delights on offer, but I decided to sweeten the deal by bringing along a few of his favourite British treats.
We spent the first part of the interview discussing his appearance on James Lipton’s interview show Inside the Actors’ Studio and going over the answers he gave to those legendary ten questions.
1. What is your favourite word?
Isotope. I like what it alludes to. To me it is a world of possibilities. The chance to redraft the past.
2. What is your least favorite word?
Stilted. I had a bad review after my first ever appearance on stage that used the word and haven’t been able to stomach it since.
3. What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally?
Honesty. Whether it is about stepping into a character’s shoes, or in relationships with others, honesty is key. I struggle to relate to those who are not open about what they feel or think, or those who are dishonest in their actions. Acting wise, to be dishonest is akin to professional death.
4. What turns you off?
I suppose my answer to the previous question covered most of it. I never do things by halves either personally or professionally and have to admit that having high expectations of myself has led to requiring the same of others. This hasn’t always served me well, but I can’t change the way I feel about it.
5. What is your favorite curse word?
Ha! I use the F word more than I ought, but I can’t say that it’s a favourite. When I was at RADA we went through a phase of collecting Shakespearian curses. My gems of choice were “Thy tongue outvenoms all the worms of Nile.” from Cymbeline and Henry IVs “Thou clay-brained guts, thou knotty-pated fool, thou whoreson obscene greasy tallow-catch!”
6. What sound or noise do you love?
I can’t tell you that. Sorry. Not for under eighteens I’m afraid. I will give you my second favourite: the sound of rain on the rooftops on a dour London day. Makes me giddy, although I don’t quite know why.
7. What sound or noise do you hate?
The absence of noise. Terrifying.
8. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
My parents are both actors. Can’t remember a time in my life when I wanted to do anything other than act, although I am told that as a toddler I was rather keen on becoming a locomotive.
9. What profession would you not like to do?
A priest or a politician. I’d be useless at both. It requires inflexibility of a kind that I don’t possess.
10. If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?
“There’s an eternity supply of Macallan’s best single malt waiting for you, matey. Take the first left and Peter’ll take it from there.” I do love a good measure of Speyside whiskey on a long winter night. I assume that heaven might be on the chilly side, since hell has hegemony over fire. It would be good to have something to keep me warm up there.
Bertie Gray may have once been best known as the youngest actor in West End history to be cast as Prospero. Since his Thespian debut, this prolific actor added many an accolade to his name, amongst which his exquisite Darcy in the latest Universal adaptation of Pride and Prejudice that sent hearts aflutter the world over.
He is now decidedly America’s darling, the hottest Brit in Hollywood and the one heartthrob with the power to make both period and modern attire sizzle on and off screen. I’d say that what I would like for God to tell me at the Pearly Gates is that Gray’s waiting on the other side. At this rate, he’s bound to make angels of half the world’s population and a jealous mess of the other.
As for the rest of the interview? He inspected my list of questions and politely declined to answer unless I agreed to keep it “off the record”. His reputation for keeping his private life under wraps is well founded it would seem. So all I have been able to uncover will have to stay… well “off the record” at least until FINDING JANE is published.