27/08/2013 11:27 BST | Updated 27/10/2013 05:12 GMT

Bill Nighy Calls Richard Curtis Rom-Com 'About Time' His Own Wake-Up Call

Bill Nighy has revealed that starring in Richard Curtis's forthcoming rom-com 'About Time' has served as a wake-up call to him - to stop and savour.

Time to stop and savour for Bill Nighy

"I missed a lot of my life looking back," muses Nighy, who plays a normal family man - apart from a capacity for time travel - in the film, co-starring with Domnhall Gleeson, Rachel McAdams and Lindsay Duncan.

"Because you go into a kind of trance with the world and its influence on you, and work, and anxiety, trying to get by.

"I wished I could have paid attention to what was in fact happening, not wondering what it might mean in a minute, or what yesterday meant, or how do I look, or how am I doing, all those things... when in fact the great gift is how to enjoy yourself, and the people in your life.

"When you get to my age, you look at the time, and you think hang on, let's make the most of what's left, and we are surrounded by so much beauty, and I want to be able to do that."

Nighy's role took him to Cornwall for a summer of filming... "I found it almost overwhelming," he admits. "It was absolutely beautiful. And I got very attached to sitting on the beach, fully clothed, at the end of the day after work, and videoing the surf on my iPhone, this is how over-excited I got. I have 20-minute videos of the surf."

Filming in Cornwall in the summertime with co-star Domnhall Gleeson - "overwhelming" says Nighy

Curtis's film tells how all the males in this otherwise ordinary family, have the capacity to travel back in time, and change events for the better. It is an unashamedly sentimental ode to family, friendship and appreciation for the magic of everyday life, something Nighy thinks is unfairly sniffed at in this age of filmmaking...

"When films are described as searingly honest, they're only using that expression when they're telling you how bad things can get," he muses.

"They never tell you that there's a searingly honest film about how good things can get. Because Richard (Curtis) chooses to emphasise the optimistic side of life, and for the most part good qualities that we exhibit as human beings... you're then disqualified from being taken seriously or something.

"It disqualifies you from being philosophical, when you can be philosophical without being cynical, but the two sometimes get mixed up.

'About Time' is an unapologetically sentimental look at family and friendship

"The word sentiment has been misunderstood, or mismanaged or hijacked, people beat you over the head with it.

"It's daft, because everyone has an emotional response to the world and to their family, it's not unmanly or un-English to express it."

"There are terrible evil things in the world, and part of the resistance to that is to emphasise the tender relationships that happen between us and the kindness and compassion and love that we can demonstrate."

Nighy agrees that it's easier for some people than others to sit and smell the roses...

"I've been very fortunate so I've been let off the hook to some degree, but even so, it doesn't release you from the kind of anxieties that we are all beset by.

"But the message of the film is not to worry about stuff left undone, to accept what you have, and not invent holes in your life, and I've been trying to do that for some years.

"He's telling us to try to dare to believe in a benign future, rather than allow a kind of nameless dread to run your day, which I've been involved in in my time.

"I think it's probably what people mean when they use the word 'cool'.

"I think that's what cool is, to dare to assume that things are going to work out. And it's incredibly demanding. It's almost impossible, but that's the aspiration."

'About Time' is in UK cinemas from 4 September. Watch the trailer below...