Rhys Ifans: 'I'd rather throw a brick than sign a petition'

Image copyright National Theatre
Image caption Exit the King is a tragi-comedy, in which a monarch is dying, but clinging on to his crown

Ahead of meeting Notting Hill and Twin Town star Rhys Ifans, BBC Radio Cymru's Garry Owen was slightly anxious.

Having read both positive and negative reports of the 51-year-old's interviews with journalists, he wondered what bracket his would fall into, as he explains.

Stepping on the stage of the National Theatre London is quite an experience, but getting the chance to do just that in the company of Welsh actor Rhys Ifans is something else.

I was there to talk to Rhys about his latest role in a production of Exit the King by Eugene Ionesco.

I must admit, on the journey from Cardiff, I was a little apprehensive.

I'd read mixed reports of the experiences of other reporters who had interviewed him.

Some wrote glowingly of a charismatic figure.

But there was one piece in The Times which came with the headline "explosive".

Which would it be today, I wondered?

Cometh the hour, cometh the man - and my misplaced fears subsided when Ifans arrived on time and smiling.

And the moment the red-record button was flipped to on, the curtain opened on a Rhys Ifans I hadn't seen before.

Here was a thoughtful man, keen to talk about his craft of acting, but also a man with definite opinions on topical matters like Trump and homelessness.

Image caption Rhys Ifans has teamed up with Shelter Cymru to tackle homelessness

He tells me he feels "totally furious" when he sees homeless families on the streets in London and how seeing "families living on the street break my heart" .

However, with a wicked grin, he admits that there is still a bit of an anarchist in him - confessing he would "rather throw a brick than sign a petition".

He also mentions one of his most challenging roles - a one man show in the shed on the banks of the Thames, based on the true story of a homeless man from Liverpool who lived on the steps of St Paul's Cathedral for nine years.

"A cariad of a boy," he added. "We are still friends."

This moved the star of Twin Town and Notting Hill to approach Shelter Cymru and offer his services as an ambassador for the charity in a bid to help tackle homelessness.

Image caption Garry Owen travelled to London to meet Rhys Ifans

So we talked, and we talked. And when I suggested I was quite happy to stop recording, given his preview performance the night before and another one to come tonight, he cracked a wry smile.

"No I am fine, let's carry on," he laughed.

His energy is boundless, on and off stage.

After nearly two hours of talking, we say our goodbyes.

As a parting shot, I jokingly tell him about my earlier fears after reading about the experiences of other journalists who had interviewed him.

"I will probably use words like 'fascinating and charming in the programme', I tell him.

"Thank God for that," he chuckled.

And with that he stretched his long legs and lanky frame, reached for his double espresso and headed towards his dressing room.

Yng nghwmni Rhys Ifans is on BBC Radio Cymru at 13:00 BST on Monday

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