Toby Jones: ‘Nobody is just one thing’May 9, 2021
From Chekhov to Capote to Harry Potter, Toby Jones is one of our most brilliantly versatile actors. So why do people keep trying to tell him who he is?
I approach the café from the station side, and there’s Toby Jones under the awning. With anxious charm, he doffs his hat. It’s a week since London reopened for outdoor socialising after another lockdown and we are not yet quite OK: there is graffiti by the gates about a totalitarian regime; an abandoned face mask flies from a tree. Despite doomy weather we have decided to meet in Jones’s local park – it’s a novelty still, the thrill of communicating in person. A pleasure.
But, do I get this, too, he asks, as we sit down with our coffees? “Do you now sort of freak out when you have appointments? Do you find yourself becoming neurotic about them – in a way that is not useful?” He has spoken before about his bafflement at the idea that actors must be interviewed, at the idea that he should be able to package his life and work into a neat and digestible timeline, so interviewing him I am prepared for resistance. What he offers instead, though, is a gentle analysis of how a person becomes themself.