Josette Simon: ‘If I wasn’t me, I’d like to be prime minister’ | Life and style


Born in Leicestershire, Josette Simon studied at the Central School of Speech and Drama, joining the Royal Shakespeare Company in the early 1980s. In the early 90s she was Olivier-nominated – and won the Evening Standard best actress award – for her role in Arthur Miller’s After the Fall at the National Theatre. Her films span Cry Freedom (1987) and Wonder Woman (2017), and her recent television work includes The Split, The Witcher, Riviera and Small Axe. She stars in the new Netflix series Anatomy of a Scandal, which begins on 15 April. She lives in London and has a daughter.

When were you happiest?
I don’t have a happiest; I live in the now.

Aside from a property, what’s the most expensive thing you’ve bought?
Mabel, my wonderful classic VW campervan.

Describe yourself in three words
Brave, silly, loving.

What would your superpower be?
Making every person in the world compassionate and empathic.

What do you most dislike about your appearance?
Nothing. I’ve learned to accept myself warts and all.

Who would play you in the film of your life?
Adrian Lester. Adrian and I are always being asked if we are brother and sister, which we’re not. He’s a gorgeous person and a fantastic actor, and seems able to play anything.

What is the worst thing anyone’s said to you?
“Your mother has dementia.” She was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2003 and died in 2010.

What scares you about getting older?
Nothing. I’ve lost people and I feel immensely grateful to have the privilege of getting older.

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Which book are you ashamed not to have read?
I try not to be ashamed of anything.

Who is your celebrity crush?
Adam Lambert.

What was the last lie that you told?
“Yes, I can ride a horse.” It was for a project that didn’t happen in the end.

What is your guiltiest pleasure?
Far too much pinot grigio.

To whom would you most like to say sorry, and why?
My dear friend Katy. I’m sorry that I couldn’t stop you from making the most devastating decision. She committed suicide.

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
I’ll think about it.

What has been your biggest disappointment?
That my parents and my siblings were so shocked and appalled by my changing my path, from university to deciding to be an actor, that they have never seen anything I’ve done.

If not yourself, who would you most like to be?
Prime minister.

When’s the last time you changed your mind about something significant?
I’d thought of driving my campervan full of urgent supplies to the Polish border. Yesterday I decided not to, but I might still do it.

What single thing would improve the quality of your life?
A housekeeper.

Would you rather have more sex, money or fame?
Money, and then I could start my own production company.

What is the most important lesson life has taught you?
If you get tired, learn to rest, not quit.

Tell us a joke
The first time I met my husband I knew he was a keeper – he was wearing massive gloves.

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