Bill Nighy, Master of Misdirection

Not that Nighy has seen any of those movies, or indeed any movie in which he appears.

“Well, would you fancy sitting down and watching yourself for a couple of hours?” he asked. “I tried it when I was younger and less complicated to look at, and there’s nothing in it for me. I’m not the audience for my work. If I watch it, the whole thing is stolen from me.”

In his spare time, he prefers to read, he said, and to go for long walks around London, dropping in on his favorite bookshops. If he has to go anywhere else, he takes a taxi or the subway to the train station. (“I don’t own a car, because it’s pointless,” he said. “And I’m not a natural motorist. I have a hard time paying attention.”)

His personal life since he separated from his longtime partner, the actress Diana Quick, is a bit of a mystery. Tall, slender and often dressed in beautifully tailored suits, he exudes a kind of old-fashioned, urbane elegance. Alas for his single fans, he is intermittently spotted at dinners and events with Anna Wintour, the Vogue editor, who hosted a screening of “Living,” in New York last month.

He prefers not to discuss their relationship, if that is what it is. When asked, he has a stock response, most recently deployed in The Daily Telegraph. “I’d love to answer that,” he said. “But if I did, I’d be involving the readers in something very close to gossip, and I know they’d never forgive me for that.”

Has Nighy taken to heart the message suggested in the film, that you should live each day as if it is your last?

“A lot of the way you think about your age and mortality is either mythical or marketing,” he said. “Somehow you’re persuaded to think that certain things are outside of your age, or that you should be drawn to things because of your age. But I don’t want to fall into any of those traps where I’m supposed to expect this or that. I’m a lucky guy. I just want to keep it lively.”

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