Flesh and Blood’s Russell Tovey on why role models are so important

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Colin Crummy
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5 Minute Philosopher is a weekly series in which Stylist gets profound with people we love. What will the actor and podcaster make of our existential questions?

What is the meaning of life?

Love, being good to people, human connections. And animal connections.

What is the difference between right and wrong?

If you can live with yourself afterwards. If it feels right, you can get on with your life and be happy. If it feels wrong, you’re going to have to do something about it.

Where is your happy place?

In an art gallery. That’s my thing. I have a podcast, Talk Art, where I talk about art. It’s my absolute passion, outside of acting. I’m a visual person and I love that art is about people telling stories in their own way. 

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Nature or nurture?

Nurture. Everyone’s born. But it’s all about how much love you’re given, how many affirmations you’re given, how many role models you have in your life, how many opportunities you’ve got.

Is it more important to be liked or respected?

I want to be liked by my friends and family. I want them to like hanging out with me. When it comes to work, as I’ve gotten older, I want to be respected.

If you could be remembered for one thing what would it be?

My ears.

Who or what is your greatest love?

Rocky, my dog. He’s my boy. My favourite thing to do is kiss his little belly. I feel so much pride that he’s mine. He’s my little world. 

When did you last lie?

I try not to. I do say I’m in a taxi when I’m not, I’m actually in the bath. But my family has this app where we all know where everyone is at any point. So I can’t lie about the distance I am from meeting someone.

Does the supernatural exist?

Yes, 100% there are ghosts. There are other dimensions we can’t see.

Are you fatalistic?

Yes, everything happens for a reason.

What is your greatest fear?


Animals or babies?

Right now, animals, but I’d like a combination of both, a hybrid – half human, half animal. Like a baby Mr Tumnus.

What talent do you yearn for?

To play piano. There’s nothing I’m more envious of than someone who just sits down and plays piano. It’s magic. 

Do you like to be complimented?

Sure, doesn’t everyone? I like to be complimented for my work. In my new drama, Flesh And Blood, it was beneficial for me when the director, Louise Hooper, told me I was doing good work. Not like, “You’re looking cute today”, but affirmations. We all need that.

Do you have a high pain threshold?

I do, actually. A masseuse can just beat the shit out of me and I love it. It’s the best massage when they stick their elbow into your lung.

What book do you recommend most to others?

The Song Of Achilles by Madeline Miller. It broke my heart. It’s really easy to read but also high art and the most beautiful love story about ancient times.

Which lesson has been the hardest to learn?

That I’m fallible, I have faults. Trying to please everyone, especially in this business, you just can’t. When you act, you want everybody to think what you’re doing is brilliant.

What food sums up happiness?

Scrambled eggs and banana. Not together. But I’m never more than a metre away from a banana. 

What have you never understood?

Russian. Or Chinese.

What is the one thing you want to know before you die?

That dogs go to heaven because I want to know that Rocky, who’s seven, will be OK. 

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Are you scared of dying or what happens when you die?

I’m not religious, but I believe there is something else. So I’m fearful of losing people I love. But death doesn’t keep me awake at night. It’s a mystery. Like space, what the fuck is space?

Quinoa or Quavers?

Quavers, just so I stay true to my working-class roots. But I should say quinoa because that’s where I am in my life. 

Flesh And Blood starts on 24 February at 9pm on ITV

Images: Getty, Instagram 


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