James Purefoy was born in Taunton, Somerset, 47 years ago.He attended Sherborne School and left at 16 without distinguishing himself academically.‘I have an actor friend, Jason Isaacs, who will add some outrageous lie about me if he knows I am about to meet a journalist,’ he says when we meet for a pint at a pub near his house in Hammersmith, West London. When we meet, Purefoy is co-starring with her in Trevor Nunn’s critically-acclaimed production of Flare Path.
‘When I’m introduced to someone I will make a quick calibration of what they might have seen me in.
If you are a twenty five year old guy wearing boots and T-shirt and looking quite hard you might have seen me in Resident Evil. I thought I recognised you.” But if you are a middle age lady in twinset and pearls I will ask: “Have you seen Dance to the Music of Time?
He says, for example, that he can identify with the character he plays in Flare Path because it is a movie star who is instantly recognisable to some and completely unrecognisable to others.
‘As an actor you have to get used to receiving gentle little pies in the face,’ he says.
” You have to see the funny side or you would become bitter and sad.’ I’m guessing that this self-deprecation is born of confidence and security.
He has never really had to ‘rest’ as an actor, which is quite an achievement.‘It’s to do with the gap between approbation and humiliation.I had that moment not long ago when presenting an Olivier award.Did you want to be the one who captured Alias Smith and Jones, or the Beast Master?Have you always wanted to be tied up like The Dukes of Hazzard, or Supernatural's Winchester brothers?As well as his various film and stage roles he has just been on our TV screens playing a barrister in the drama Injustice, and is now appearing again in Camelot, a series about the King Arthur legend.