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Stoker star Matthew Goode on Nicole Kidman and keeping his clothes on

If he was a character from children's literature – come on, you must have played that game: Bradley Cooper could be the Cheshire Cat, Tom Cruise is Popeye, Tom Hanks is maybe Toad of Toad Hall and Daniel Radcliffe is, well, Harry Potter (sorry Daniel) – then Matthew Goode would definitely be Tigger.

Photograph: Paul Stuart
Photograph: Paul Stuart

Even in the shortest of audiences in London's bright and spangly Soho Hotel he's bouncy, bouncy, bouncy and bouncy. And mostly fun, fun, fun and fun.

This Tuesday afternoon he springs up before I'm even in the room, hallooos my name – "Teddy!" – and spends our time together giving a very good impression of a man in his element. Obviously I like to think that's the natural effect I have on people. But maybe it's just his demeanour.

Goode is very tall, slightly sweary (be warned), rather English (so more AA Milne than Disney) and at the moment slightly ubiquitous. For the past few weeks he's been on the small screen in Stephen Poliakoff's sumptuously dressed and very long BBC Two drama Dancing On The Edge. And as it comes to a close he is about to pop up in our cinemas as Mia Wasikowska's rather nasty Uncle Charlie in Park Chan-wook's American debut Stoker. After years in which he has been on a steadily upward trajectory, the 34-year-old would appear to have reached the point of ubiquity.

He's not so sure, though. "I'm still like, 'I wonder when I'm going to work again,'" he says as he sips bottled water and smooths down his skinny tie. "I'm pretty removed now. We live down in Kent, away from everything, and my day-to-day is: get up, take the missus to the station and then potter around with [four-year-old daughter] Matilda until its nursery time and then spend the afternoon thinking, 'When am I going to work next? What are my options?' I've spent a lot of time over the past four or five months doing that. So, Christ, I really hope this Dancing On The Edge/Stoker sandwich does bring something to the table."

I imagine it might. Opposite Wasikowska and Nicole Kidman, he is very good in Stoker in particular. It's a very, very stylish, elegantly shot and dressed, maybe ever-so-slightly glib but hugely entertaining thriller about the mysterious Uncle Charlie who moves in with India (Wasikowska) and her emotionally damaged mother, Evelyn, (Kidman).

Stoker is from the South Korean director of the dark and disturbing Oldboy (the movie with the squid scene; if you've seen it you'll remember that). It was the chance to work with Park that made Goode audition ("I auditioned the hell out of it"). He loved Oldboy when he saw it. On a date. "It's a funny old film to take your girlfriend on a date - it turned out to be a pretty good date, though." Goode and Park turned out to be a marriage made in heaven (or maybe hell, given the nature of the piece). As my mate Graeme said to me as we left its Glasgow Film Festival screening last weekend, Goode nails it as, let's be honest, a "beautiful bastard".

His beauty, I think, goes without saying. He's a good-looking boy in that old-fashioned, floppy-fringed, very English way; a Colin Firth or Hugh Grant for the 4G generation, if you like. But is he a swine or a cad (I'm trying to be polite)? That's what I want to know. Is he playing himself when he's Uncle Charlie? "You'd have to ask my other half. I suspect she'd say 55% of the time."

Really? That's quite high, Matthew. Let's put it to a proper test. What's the worst thing you've ever done? He pauses, has a think. "That's a really good question. Maybe I'm a good guy after all. I shouted at my daughter once. I really shouted very loudly at her, partly because I was really worried that she was going to go over and hurt herself on the oven. I was just tired and irritated and she really cried. How do you quantify that?"

That's only 8% swine, I tell him. I think he thinks it's worth more than that. "It made me feel terrible. It was one of the worst things I've ever done."

OK. Has he ever lied when he shouldn't have? "Yes, of course. I'm English. Generally I do it when I'm away. The missus says, 'You're a bit shady when you're away.' And yeah, I am. I said to her, 'I generally don't tell you the whole truth about a night out in case it looks like I'm having too much fun.' She's like, 'I just want to know the truth,' and I think, 'You're so right.' Otherwise she might think I'm having an affair."

That leads me to another question, I say. "Have I ever had an affair?" he says. No, Matthew, I wasn't going to ask that. But I was going to ask if you have ever slept with someone you shouldn't have. "Jesus – that describes my formative teenage years."

OK, time to go for broke. One more question. The ultimate one. Matthew, have you ever killed anyone? "I've thought about it," he laughs. "Jesus, I've thought about it." He sips his drink and has a thought. "Christ, I wonder if you'd done this with Oscar Pistorius -" Like I said, bouncy, bouncy, bouncy, bouncy, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun.

Indeed, anyone who has paid attention to Goode's rise and rise, from a supporting role in the Inspector Lynley Mysteries on telly, via Woody Allen (Match Point), the big-screen remake of Brideshead Revisited and snogging Colin Firth in Tom Ford's A Single Man to playing the richest man in the world in botched superhero saga Watchmen, will know he's never been short of an opinion.

Of Leap Year, the romcom he made with Amy Adams, he said that some might suggest it's "the worst film of 2010". It didn't sound as if he'd necessarily disagree. He told one journalist that the distributors of A Single Man, the Weinstein Company, could have pushed the film a bit more and when it was suggested that some fanboys might not take to him in the role of Adrian Veidt in Watchmen he told one interviewer (sensitive souls might want to look away for a moment) "every fanboy can line up and s*** my d***. I don't give a f***".

Now, language aside, I rather like this outspokenness. It's a good (Goode, even) trait. He's not earnest. Or evasive, which makes a change among actors. He doesn't want to, as he says, "be in shutdown mode and super careful". You may not be surprised to hear that he loves old-school stars such as Peter O'Toole, another "beautiful bastard" who wasn't short of an opinion or two.

The problem is, he says, we've become scared of people having an opinion. Scared or sneering. And that's partly down to the media itself, he thinks. "Unless I call your mother something really rude -" He was going to say something really rude actually, but his press handler walked in and put him off. "- then I don't expect to read something in a magazine about what an arsehole I am for having an opinion on the colour of a sock." None of his candour comes across as calculated, by the way. I ask a question and he answers it.

Matthew, I ask, who's the better kisser, Nicole Kidman or Colin Firth? "They both bring something to the table," he says, grinning. Is it strange going into work knowing you are going to kiss your co-worker? I can't imagine heading in to Herald Mansions with the prospect of puckering up to Colette Douglas Home or Hugh MacDonald, after all (well, with Hugh there was that one time. But we don't talk about that any more). Goode, though, never stops kissing his co-stars. Mandy Moore, Amy Adams, Ben Wishaw, Colin and Nicole. He's smooched them all.

"Yeah, and I've had my arse out in a lot as well. I'm over it, trust me." Actually it's not the kissing that's the worst thing he reckons. "I genuinely don't like doing sex scenes. They're so uncomfortable and so technical. If I never had to do another bloody sex scene in my entire life it would be great. And there are things now I won't take because I wouldn't put my missus through. Christian Grey? F*** off."

So, no 50 Shades Of Grey for Goode then. "No. I'm sure someone will have a brilliant career doing it. And I'm not saying I'd even be on that list because I'm sure it will be big-time people. But at the same time I'm starting to think what's best for my family much more often. It's kind of a single man's game, I think."

Time for some background. Goode grew up in a small village in Devon, in a two-bedroomed flat where the doors were too small for him, with a geologist father, a mother who was a nurse and an older brother. When his brother went off to boarding school he spent a lot of time on his own reading and watching the telly and living in his imagination.

But his mum, when she wasn't working, was keen on amateur theatre. "She genuinely at one point thought she was Laurence Olivier's love child. She had an incredible passion for it." Soon he was drafted in, despite his teenage propensity for blushing. Was he fulfilling his mother's dream by pursuing an acting career? "I don't know about fulfilling her dream. I think she's incredibly proud. It's complicated. I should have been at home a lot more than I have been and there's various stuff that can't be talked about. But I love her. She would have loved to be in the industry, for sure."

You couldn't say his own passion was quite so apparent as his mother's. Acting seemed to be something to do to put off having to make a decision about what he was going to do. "It was just like, 'What the f*** am I going to do at university?' My father wasn't particularly happy with the drama degree." Even so, after Birmingham University Goode took out another student loan and did a postgrad year in London. He emerged with a good agent, and the stage was pretty much set.

What does he like about his career choice, I ask. "I love the people. I love a film crew. For me there's the work, which is fascinating and interesting, and then there's going back to a half-decent pub with great stories. It's quite a good link to history, if you like theatrical types and you love the banter and the stories. I feel very at home on a film set. Well, some sets. I love being in England, I love filming in England. Christ, I wish we didn't have such a cottage industry over here."

It's clear that the call of home is growing stronger now that he's settled down with a child and another on the way. The missus is called Sophie. How did they meet? "She was sitting on my doorstep when I came home from filming in Poland or somewhere. That's a good few years ago. She was best friends with my neighbour Emily in Clapham. She'd locked herself out. I was a bit flustered and quite tired. The way I remember it I opened the door and carried her bag up. But apparently I shrugged my shoulders, didn't speak to her, opened the door but didn't carry her suitcase upstairs."

She didn't hold it against him. "We got together at Emily's wedding and we've lasted longer than that marriage."

His happiness, he says, is wrapped up in his partner's happiness now. If he had his way he wouldn't need to go far from home to work. "The dream gig would be to film in England with an English director. No sex scenes. A war film, probably. Something with a lot of boys and we can go off and get drunk after work."

Matthew Goode worries about money, only got the Stoker job because Colin Firth was too busy but nailed it anyway. Our time is up. He bounces off to get his picture taken. He leaves me with one thought.

"The other day I had this realisation. 'What do you mean Federer is four years younger than me? He's achieved everything. I've done f*** all. I've got to get cracking.' It's shown me how quick stuff is flying past. Get on and do it."

What does that say about his life? Dutifully mastered, perhaps.

Stoker (18) goes on release on Friday.

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