CN Traveller – The star of The Rum Diary and The Dark Knight and long-time collaborator of playwright Neil LaBute on his favourite places
Have you always been a keen traveller?
When I was a kid we moved around: Australia, France, Switzerland, Hawaii. And as an actor, I spend most of the year abroad or in another US state as they no longer make movies in Hollywood. Living in hotel rooms and having hobbies I can do by myself come pretty natural now.
Cartagena in Colombia. They had a film festival down there, so I planned my trip around that. We stayed at the Casablanca. It really felt first class all the way.
Where in the world have you felt happiest?
At my ranch in Montana. My folks are from two very small towns in that state, so I’ve gravitated there. I like the outdoors; I like working the land; I like learning from nature and animals. My dad and I clear land and nurture it. We just chop down things and drag them around in the truck. It’s sort of a cliché to get a ranch, but I tell you what, it’s nice.
Name a place that most lived up to the hype
Botswana. I went there on safari with my then girlfriend. We were in the middle of the Okavango Delta – it was just what dreams are made of. We were woken by elephants dining and lounging after a kill, and zebras and giraffes. But of course, we were safe (unfortunately, as it would have been nice to get in a little more danger).
Paris is the most beautiful, but New York is a wonderful walking city; it’s so full of stimuli at every turn. I also have a great relationship with London. I lived in St George’s Hill in Surrey, so I grew up going to the Hammersmith Odeon to see Eighties hair bands: everybody from Judas Priest to Def Leppard. And then I did a play and lived in Marylebone; I used to walk to the theatre every day, all along from Marylebone to Regent Street to Leicester Square – that was special for me.
Confess to one thing you’ve taken from a hotel room
Well all the little soaps and shampoos, of course. And I’m sure I have a robe or two. And some towels. And maybe a pillow. Hotels are getting so good at bedding.
Which is your road most travelled?
To Paris. I love the architecture. I love the fashion; I’m a closet fashion photographer.
Where did you go on your first holiday without your parents?
When I was 13, I started going on trips with 15 of my friends from school. We went skiing in Courchevel, we went to Moscow, and we played sports all over Europe. From a very young age, my parents let us go. In retrospect, it wasn’t the wrong decision, but it was a bold one.
Describe a memory from a childhood holiday
When we were living in London, we used to go skiing twice a year. The first time was to Davos, near St Moritz. We weren’t prepared for the grandeur of the fabulous Château, because my family is quite casual, and we were surrounded by Europeans who took it very seriously. We also used to travel by car from London to North Africa each year for three weeks, seeing every cathedral and museum on the way.
‘I lost my heart to…’
A bratwurst sandwich in Zürich. It was wonderful.
Describe a holiday disaster
My family rented a houseboat in Australia: it was mosquito-infested, and leaking and you couldn’t get off. I have this image of standing with my two older brothers on top of this boat, sweating our asses off with nothing to do, and this beautiful speedboat comes past, and they’re all drinking beer and listening to music, and they spray all of us and leave us dripping wet. It was like National Lampoon’s Vacation – and it’s made me not want to have a family.
What is the smartest hotel you’ve ever stayed in?
The Hotel Plaza Athenee in Paris. You’re eating breakfast alone there, and they have five people standing no more than seven feet from you. One guy is in charge of the bowl, another is in charge of the coffee cup, another is charge of the napkin. And at the Four Seasons Hotel George V in Paris they had a security guard follow me around because I dress like a bum and they thought I looked suspicious.
Which foreign phrase do you hear most often?
‘C’est pas possible.’ If there’s anything you want to do in France, it’s not possible.
Source: CN Traveller