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INTERVIEW: About Time‘s Richard Curtis & Bill Nighy on kids, casting

Richard Curtis and Bill Nighy are together again for About Time. The frequent collaborators tell SheKnows about their film, which covers everything from romance to parenting.

This Friday, Richard Curtis returns to theaters with About Time. The writer-director is the king of romantic comedies that pull at your heartstrings. Some of his previous works include Notting Hill and the Christmas-themed Love, Actually.

About Time has everything we love about Curtis’ earlier films but with a sci-fi twist. It centers on time-travel and how it can be used to create the perfect love life. The film co-stars Bill Nighy, who’s a frequent collaborator of Curtis.

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Nighy recently spoke to SheKnows about playing the father of Domhnall Gleeson. He admits that both he and his character are similar in a very distinct way.

“I do have similarities in as much that I have to stop myself from being totally obsessed with my child,” he said. “But I think most people are like that. It is the central fact of our lives… I’m not a great philosopher, but I presume it’s the meaning of life.”

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In About Time, Nighy plays an unconventional, fun-loving father. He’s like that dad we’ve always wanted. He even gave us some real-life parenting tips that he’s learned through trial and error.

“One of the things I found difficult was not remembering that they’re not you. So not presuming that they’re going to have exactly the same response as you did to everything. And that they’re someone else. That’s a big one,” he explained.

“A lesson I learned, probably too late, is when to stop parenting. It’s when you see their eyes glaze over when they’re like 15, 16,” he continued. “They’ll take it from anyone else in the world, but suddenly the sound of your voice just no longer [registers]. You’ve gotta unplug parenting and turn on companionship.”

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Nighy’s onscreen son, Gleeson, was chosen for very specific reasons. Curtis didn’t want to cast a young Bradley Cooper for the role. He wanted an Average Joe whom the audience could relate to.

“[With] Domhnall I just auditioned all the young actors I could find in the UK. It was the other end of the spectrum. I had no idea who I was looking for,” Curtis admitted. “Actually, it was tricky auditioning him because he had an orange beard — he was in the middle of doing Anna Karenina — he looked like an extra in Deliverance. But I could see that he was tender, sweet, a very good actor but then also crucially funny.”

Unlike most directors, Curtis relishes in the imperfections of his stars. Even though About Time has some fantastical elements, he wanted the lead to be as realistic as possible.

“I loved the idea of having someone you have to learn to love… [like] Woody Allen in his movies. Someone who’s a bit quirky looking that you don’t instantly think is the handsomest guy at the party. That’s who I think most of us are.”

We couldn’t agree more.

You can watch Curtis’ latest masterpiece, About Time, when it opens in theaters Nov. 8.

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