He is the child of a scholarship boy who taught drama at Clare College, Cambridge and, at 81, is still translating Ibsen.Northam was drawn to acting because "I'd always liked the idea that drama acts at its best as a kind of arena for debate, not just about the thing itself, but also producing aesthetic, stylistic, political and moral discussions.The Jungian view would be that it affects all of our imaginations and somehow taps into our hidden, ancient, primordial memories."Northam trained at the Bristol Old Vic and then spent a couple of years in rep, which he says he loved."The discipline of the theatre, where everything backstage is clean and organised and stowed away, makes me think of being on board ship. I really enjoyed doing Chekhov one moment and Rattigan the next." Then he began to be cast in plays at the National and with the Royal Shakespeare Company. Hän on esiintynyt muun muassa elokuvissa Emma, Gosford Park ja Tristram Shandy: Herrasmiehen paljastukset.Hän on myös esittänyt Thomas Morea televisiosarjassa Tudors ja Anthony Edeniä sarjassa The Crown.His conversation is full of immense pauses and "ums" and "ers", while he ponders how to respond honestly without compromising himself, and of excursions into general topics from which, had I not been so mesmerised by his Jeremy Northam-ness, I should really have hauled him back.
In 1995 he was cast in his first big Hollywood role opposite Sandra Bullock in The Net, the same year making Carrington, in which he played the dastardly Beacus Penrose.In Cypher, I'd watched him transform himself from twitchy nerd to tanned sex god; but Northam the man was no more inclined to play the celebrity than he would be to suddenly "switch on" his Dean Martin (a man he impersonated so expertly in an American TV movie that the critic David Thomson says he watched the film expecting to see the real Jerry Lewis suddenly appear next to Northam's "real" Dean).His evident dislike of being interviewed meant that much of our conversation consisted of a kind of meta-interview about interviews, and about the publicity commitments every actor must meet to "sell" his film. "Lots of actors are actually extremely shy." Is he shy? It's not that he's anything less than sweet and cooperative and friendly, just that he can't bring himself to "put out", if that's not too vulgar an expression.So it was with heart aflutter and mascara hurriedly repaired that I entered Blacks, a cool, dark, faded private members club in Soho where he had suggested we meet.And even though I knew that I was meeting an actor, not Mr Knightley or Ivor Novello or even Cypher's Morgan Sullivan, it was unexpectedly disconcerting not to find at least one of them waiting for me at the bar.I met Jeremy Northam 10 minutes after the extremely romantic nature of the conclusion of his latest film, Cypher had made me cry.