Bill Nighy—despite being one of our most prolific British character actors—has never been too fond of period dramas. “It’s the trousers,” he confided, though he also alluded to a fear that all the trappings of old English society would encumber his ability to give an authentic performance. But Nighy cast all of his apprehensions aside when Autumn de Wilde approached him for the role of Mr. Woodhouse in her spirited take on the Jane Austen classic, Emma. In our recent chat, Nighy told us why he felt he was in good hands with de Wilde, from her fresh perspective on the material to her musical sensibilities that made every shot sing. He also spoke highly of the film’s costume designer, Alexandra Byrne, who was able to make some pants for him that weren’t quite so stifling. And, finally, since everyone knows Nighy as Love, Actually’s raucous rocker Billy Mack, we asked the actor to stump for some of his films he’s fond of that he hopes more people will see.
Emma. is in select theaters now, and releases wide on March 6.