ENTERTAINMENT

'Fleming' Star Dominic Cooper Talks James Bond, 'Mamma Mia' And Keeping It Real On A Thursday Night

12/02/2014 16:42 GMT | Updated 12/02/2014 16:59 GMT

Let's just get the burning question out of the way first.

"Dominic Cooper, is your portrayal of Ian Fleming in this new big-budget biopic (starting on Sky Atlantic, tonight) your official audition to be considered for the role of James Bond, should it come your way?"

Mr Cooper's eyebrow shoots up in a way, worthy of 007 himself, and takes another sip of his distinctly stirred tea.

"It’s a funny one, it’s such a big question," he begins. "No one has ever said no to that job, you have to say yes to it, and show excitement towards it, which I think everyone would have.

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Dominic Cooper takes on Ian Fleming in all his complexity in the new Sky Atlantic biopic

"The reality of it is something very different and comes with all sorts of stuff. It’s full of baggage and it changes everything, and it would be really interesting, I’ve worked with a couple of previous Bonds, and I never got any juicy information about how they really felt – they just seemed really grateful for the experience of it.

"The obvious answer is yes, absolutely, I’d love to be… it would be really interesting. Daniel Craig has given some really interesting interviews about how he can’t do a small film ever again. But you, no matter what, when you’re approached for that decision, you must try to factor in every outcome. Will I be this person for evermore? But then you remember as a kid, seeing those films. And that person actually gets paid. That’s their job…" Voice fades away. More tea.

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Ian and Anne Fleming's relationship was far from peaceful, as shown in some brutal scenes

In the meantime, Ian Fleming, as we see him brought to life full-throttle by Dominic, isn't exactly desk-bound. Instead, he's posturing around London, blagging his way into Naval Intelligence, fuelled only by a louche swagger and a ridiculous imagination. When he's not somewhere behind enemy lines, or pretending to be, he's engaged in a parry-and-thrust 'romantic' duel with the lady who would become his wife, Anne (played by Lara Pulver) that is less passionate than brutal, and sometimes verges on the sadistic.

Dominic doesn't attempt to excuse him, but he obviously enjoys Fleming in all his complexity...

"It wouldn’t be fun to play someone who’s capable of those things he’s seemingly capable of, but not find a side to him that you kind of enjoyed being a voyeur of," he muses. "By all accounts, he wasn’t particularly pleasant. Bond was terrible in the books, and that was his ideal man."

What about Fleming's overbearing mother, and overachieving brother - was that a route to finding some sympathy for his openly obnoxious behaviour as played out on screen? Apparently not...

"I found it very hard to feel sympathy for a man who had everything going for him in the world," Dominic adds. "I didn’t feel sorry for him."

He continues:

"I think I’m an odd choice for this role. I’m very far removed from the world in which he existed, and I know a lot of actors of more similar upbringing, in that world, the schooling."

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Dominic Cooper feels he's an "odd choice" for the role, but it fits him like a glove

One aspect of Dominic Cooper's career that tickles him, and makes him so easy to interview, is both the access he has gained to this more high-falutin' world as a result of his success, and his head-scratching attitude to it all.

"You find yourself at ambassadors’ houses in different countries, and you think, 'If they could see me scratching around the streets of Lewisham on a Saturday night.' Acting does open up doors, and it’s great to see first hand those people in their environment, but you find yourself pinching yourself."

Filming 'Mamma Mia' in the Greek Islands alongside Meryl Streep and Pierce Brosnan was another one of those moments, it seems.

"You're put on a speedboat between different Greek islands to do press, and thinking, 'People actually live like this.' I’ve never seen it be healthy, growing up with too much. It's something you can be envious of, but it’s actually a hindrance, it prohibits that desire to invest or dare, or need. It’s always full of more complications than the other way round."

So what is real for Dominic Cooper, popular and increasingly critically admired, ever since he struck gold on screen with his charismatic turn as one of Alan Bennett's History Boys?

"Playing football on a Thursday night… in a cage in Deptford," he adds for good measure.

"For some bizarre reason I’m up front, which means I do hardly anything."

But that means your name goes on the sheet if you score?

"Yes, but that means nothing," he bursts out indignantly. "Who looks at those sheets? What matters is being involved in the game."

'Fleming' starts tonight on Sky Atlantic, at 10pm. Watch the trailer below...