Laurence Fox: the interview


Laurence Fox makes no bones about the fact his life revolves around his children

Laurence Fox is deep in rehearsals for the latest adaptation of Tom Stoppard’s play, The Real Thing at Rose Theatre Kingston. Having recently starred on stage in The Patriotic Traitor and the lauded Strangers On A Train, he is used to the rigours of getting into a character on stage and nights that end late after a performance. But he doesn’t let that interfere with the time he spends with his children – boys, Winston and Eugene – particularly since the split from his wife, actress Billie Piper, last year.

‘I pretty much go home and then I wake up and take my kids to school and then I go back home and usually try and have a nap because it takes quite some time to wind down after a theatre show. My children dominate my routine.’

Fox is best known for his role as DS James Hathaway, the sidekick to Kevin Whately in the TV show Lewis, which lasted for seven series and ended in 2015. The two actors became firm friends. Having failed to get into university (a turbulent time at Harrow school left him with A Levels but not a great recommendation), he got into RADA and followed in the acting tradition of his father, James Fox and uncles, Edward and Robert. His cousins are actors, Emilia and Freddie Fox.

When choosing roles he says: ‘I look for the best part. I mean, we’re all human so we are all linked together. I just look for the most fascinating part that I can find, for parts that are going to be the most interesting and demanding.’

In The Real Thing he plays Henry, ‘the smartest and sharpest playwright of his generation’. Stoppard’s play within a play is witty as well as poignant. A story of repeated infidelity, Henry’s wife, Charlotte, is an actress appearing in Henry’s production about a couple whose marriage is on the rocks.  Her leading man, Max, is married to Annie, who, it turns out is having an affair with Henry. When Annie and Henry become a couple, art and real life become blurred.

Says Fox: ‘I think The Real Thing is one of the all-time, brilliant, great modern plays, arguably one of Stoppard’s best. And Stoppard is probably the finest living dramaturg. I was drawn to the role because of the complexity of this man and his great intelligence, and the journey he goes through. It’s a monster of a part and a great challenge.’

The play is on tour, starting in Cambridge, before moving on to Bath and then Kingston. While it means time away from his boys, he’s just ‘pleased that everyone gets to see the play. People who live in London can get confused by the fact that there’s a whole other world out there and audiences around the UK.’

Apart from television, film and theatre, Fox is heavily into his own music. His debut album, Holding Patterns, was released early last year and he’s working on new material now. The website for his music describes him – possibly slightly tongue-in-cheek – as a ‘surprisingly gifted musician with an exceptional talent for songwriting’.

He isn’t aiming for music to take over from acting, though: ‘I love both. It’s like saying do you prefer sunny days or winter ones. You can enjoy both.’

And as well as writing songs, is he interested in ever writing a play or novel, too?: ‘Yeah, I do write. I do write already. I’m writing at the moment.’  Watch this space.

Pippa Duncan
The Real Thing is at the Rose Theatre Kingston, 3-14 October.


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