IT is not very often you get to speak to acting royalty but that certainly was the case when I got the chance to a spend a few moments with screen heavyweight Phil Davis.
Dismissing any preconceptions of actors in an instant, the star of both the big and the small screen was humble, intelligent and charming as we spoke at length about his career and his appearance as a ‘guest of honour’ at the Derby Film Festival.
To note his laundry list of hits would take forever and a day but his starring roles have included Quadrophenia, ID, Vera Drake, Doctor Who, Whitechapel, Silk and Being Human.
All of this from a man who just wanted to earn a living as working actor.
“I am very honoured and grateful to be called a guest of honour and to be invited to the Derby Film Festival,” he said.
“I think it is a great idea and, although I do not see why people would want to come along and see me talk, I can’t wait to hear questions they have.”
He will appearing at the festival from 2pm on Sunday, May 11 and will discuss his long career in show business with broadcaster and journalist Tony Earnshaw.
He will talk after his varied career as an actor, writer and director which has seen him work with the likes of directors David Fincher, Alan Parker and Mike Leigh and co-starred alongside international stars including Mel Gibson, Anthony Hopkins, Cate Blanchett and Sigourney Weaver.
Asked to describe memorable moments from his career, the actor pointed to his collaborations with director Mike Leigh as one the main things that stands out from his 42 years in the industry.
Leigh’s Vera Drake saw Davis rewarded for years of toil and trouble on the acting circuit with a collection of awards including even being nominated for a BAFTA.
He said: “We have always got on really well and it also felt so right whatever we did together. He has been a big influence for me and has really being a huge part in helping me have such a great career.
“But, on the whole, I have lots of favourite moments as I have loved every minute as this is the one thing that I have always wanted to do for a living.”
He has also worked as a director. In cinema he was behind the camera for the powerful dramas ID and Hold Back The Night, while on television he has directed episodes of Prime Suspect and Canterbury Tales.
Asked to reflect on his career, Davis was refreshingly open and honest.
“I have always wanted to be an actor and wanted to be a working actor,” he said.
“I sit back now and look at my career and I am pleased with it.
“It is very nice when people come up to me to talk about my work.
“Whether it be solicitors wanting to talk about Silk or youngsters wanting to talk about Sherlock or Doctor Who, it is just nice that they have enjoyed something that I have done.
“I hope that people remember my roles and, sometimes, I see films and television shows as being like punk records, that they stay with people that have been grabbed by them at some point in their lives.”
Ahead of his session at the Derby Film Festival, Davis set out a challenge to anyone coming along.
He said: “I want to hear some good questions and nothing is off limits in my book.
“I want people to think outside the box and want to have a real good chat and question and answer session.”
Up next for Davis is a starring role in the BBC remake of Poldark as well other projects.
“I have had a good career but I hope there is a few more years left yet,” he concluded.
For a man picked out by Oscar winning actor Daniel Day-Lewis as one of his heroes, the cockney from Essex who wanted to be a ‘working actor’ has easily surpassed that dream and earned the title of a being a true great.