AGE INSIDE: Andrew Lincoln


photo Sarah Lee for the Guardian

I’m posting this today because of this terrific piece in The Guardian:

Here is my 2010 interview with the delightful Andrew Lincoln, in which he revealed that he was going to America to star in The Walking Dead. Typically for my old stomping ground, the byline has mysteriously dropped off: [Most amusing in hindsight line? “They don’t know I’m out there, really, in LA.”]

It was at this face to face that I also conducted the following interview.

b. 14 September, 1973
Age Inside: Mid-twenties

When I was filming Wuthering Heights it was the first time that I found myself in the make-up chair and people were sidling up to me, going, “So, Andy, what do you think about. . .”, asking me questions! I was thinking, ‘What are you talking about?’

I also vividly remember doing The Woman in White years ago, my first job after This Life, I think. There was an older actor in it, and we had one of those spooky moments when we were both in period costume, sitting in the back of this trap, just chatting, basically.

He was quite a dapper old gentleman, and he said, ‘Ah, you know there was a time when the makeup girls would look at me! And I’ll tell you something: I still look out of these eyes and I’m 18 years old, but I look in the mirror and I’m a 70-year-old buffer.”

I know what he means. I think my heart hasn’t changed. I’ve always felt around about twenty-one or twenty-two. I always felt a little bit older than my age: when I was a teenager, I always felt I was desperate to get there – I don’t know why, I just have always felt this urgency. And then I got there and went, ‘Well, I’m going to stay here, because this is fun.”

Though interestingly, with all the pressure that’s put on age in our culture, when I hit thirty, I remember, like a week later, walking down the street and going, ‘Ah! I LOVE being thirty.’ Because I had been worried about it. At thirty I felt that I had a little bit of gravitas. It just felt easier to be thirty. Maybe that’s because male adolescence stretches three decades and women’s just goes where it’s supposed to go and then they grow up!

I welcomed that gravitas because I think we get tired. It’s boring, navel gazing all the time; it’s so dull being so concerned with self. And it’s such a trait, this self obsession. It’s so juvenile, but it’s necessary because it’s formative. At the same time, it’s tiresome and dull. I think when I started to feel more comfortable – not that I was vastly uncomfortable with who I was before – but I got a better idea of who I was and the dust settled. It’s about authenticity.

Of course, I don’t know what being grown up means; it’s an interesting question. My folks were brilliant parents and they were grown ups, inasmuch as they were in charge. They were very strict but fair. I said to my mother just recently, with two children of my own now, I realise the level of responsibility and commitment and endurance that one needs to be a parent. I realise how marvelous they were and how much they sacrificed for me and my brother. They put parenting before all else, so that’s kind of a benchmark. So they were absolutely parents in my eyes, and that equals grown up.

Then again, it’s strange about one’s perceptions and how one feels about age. My mother started running marathons when she was sixty and she looks and sounds and feels better than she did when she was forty.

But I think as soon as you have children age goes out of the window, you just become a father, and that just radically changes everything. I was 34 when our first child, Matilda, was born, and I felt I came of age. I think I’ve grown up and that there’s been a shift, largely down to parenting, because it changes your world view. You worry less about yourself and more about something else, which I think is intensely grown up. That responsibility is about being grown up.

The great thing about being a parent is that you get to view the culture through your children’s eyes again; you see the world through them – which is kind of what I do with my job, too, hopefully.

I try not to look ahead to when I’m older. Because of the magpie existence that I have – I get to dress up and play and pretend being lots of different ages and I get to shape shift a lot – I suppose that part of me is taken care of in my vocation. I do feel I have a younger heart or spirit, and I suppose you have to have that to do this job, because it demands a certain level of playfulness, which is associated with youth. Playfulness shouldn’t be ascribed to youth, but it is.

I do think that there are eras that people belong to different eras. Personally, I would return to the 1930s, for the style. Sure, the Depression was not ideal, but that era always had glamour and the architecture was so adorable.

On reflection, I think I’m probably in my mid-twenties. But I feel very excited about this time in my life. I feel very balanced, I suppose, and it’s not because of what I’ve achieved through work. I try not to solve my inner angst with awards or things like that as aspirations; for me that wouldn’t be the route to happiness. I try to exist as a father and an actor. My sense of self is pretty current.

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