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When Red Met Ben Whishaw
RED – October 28, 2015 | Written by Hannah Dunn

If you’ve already had the pleasure of watching Spectre you’ll know the star of the show is most definitely Q, aka Ben Whishaw. And last year, ahead of the release of a little known film called Paddington, we caught up with the actor to talk through his many incarnations and to find out what he has planned next.

Well, now is as good a time as any to take a trip down memory lane…

What was it like playing childhood favourite Paddington Bear?
It’s been lovely and quite tricky! The character is inspired by the book and television series, but it’s also a character that’s been reinvented for today. The big thing, I suppose, is that you think you’re going to have to do something more than you. You’re going to have to be bigger and better and brighter than yourself, when actually the more I just did it like myself and used my own voice, strangely, the better it was.

He isn’t the first iconic role you’ve taken on; you also played Q in Skyfall. What was that like?
Fun! I’m really excited to do the next one. It’s funny, you do have to sort of reinvent things. You have to nod to the past, how it was done before you, and then you have to bring it up to date.

How do you choose your roles?
I never thought I’d be in a James Bond film; I never thought I’d voice Paddington Bear. But these things came my way, unexpectedly. Yes, it’s partly randomness, and partly wanting to do something different – not to try and do the same thing over and over again, but to grow and test yourself.
Do you think how you look influences your roles?
I suppose inevitably. To some extent, you’re defined by what nature has given you, physically. But the older I get, the less I think that matters. What I love in a performance is when you see a transformation happen.

We’re still mourning The Hour…
I miss that series, too. I made really dear friends on it, Romola Garai and writer Abi Morgan included. They’re both just wonderful, very intelligent, very fun, and beautiful people.

Do you still get nervous before acting?
Yeah, but it’s a pleasurable love. I feel it every time I start anything – always trying to get something better.

How do you relax?
I watch a lot of films. I particularly love the films of John Cassavetes who was making movies in the 1970s. He made A Woman Under The Influence, which
I particularly love. It’s a very vivid, very human film and the performances are extraordinary. It feels real in a way that’s very surprising. Lots of those film-makers from the 1970s I adore, like Martin Scorsese and Woody Allen.

What are you most afraid of in life?
I would hate to get stuck in a rut, or to not feel excited by life. I’d hate to feel… unchallenged. I relish the unexpected.

So what’s next?
I’d really like to have a go at directing something myself. I’d love to work with some actors, but not be acting myself. But it’s a bit of a dream at the moment.