Daniel Mays: 5 things I can’t live without




I grew up in Essex as the third of four boys and our home was very noisy, boisterous and loving.

My parents always encouraged us to follow our dreams and my brothers and I all now do completely different things – one is a salesman, another is a groundsman and the third is a money broker.

Although our lives have diverged, the four of us remain incredibly close and we still love spending time together.

Family is very important to me and it was wonderful to have everyone there when my partner Louise and I got married three weeks ago.

Together we are working hard to create a very happy home of our own with our two children.

2. Acting

When I was a boy, my brothers and I were all incredibly sporty and it was hard to stand out. I think that’s what first drew me to acting as I wanted to shine at something different.

As a youngster I was a cheeky chap with a fine line in impersonations but it was only when I started performing in productions at secondary school that I realised acting wasn’t just a passing interest, it was my calling.

I was very lucky to attend the Italia Conti Academy of Theatre Arts before getting a place at Rada.

I know a lot of people think of actors as neurotic, self-obsessed luvvies but I think that is unfair. To make it in this industry you need to be incredibly hardworking, resilient and above all endlessly inquisitive about other people and the lives they lead.

Acting has taught me so much and brought so many different people and experiences into my life. I really can’t think of anything else that I would rather do.


When I was younger I used to play loads of sport and I still love to feel fit, which is why I try to run as often as I can.

Of course with kids and a busy career, finding time for exercise can be a challenge.

But I don’t allow myself to put it on the back burner. In fact I try to go for an hour-long run four times a week.

Once I’m out the front door it never feels like a chore as I run in beautiful places such as Highgate Wood and Hampstead Heath in north London.


Without sounding like a child with a new toy, I am obsessed with my iWatch.

My mum bought it for me for my 40th birthday and it’s really rather addictive.

It not only works as an incredible watch and fitness tracker but I can also access emails, texts and maps on it without getting bogged down in social media.


Music is a really big part of my life and I use it to relax, inspire and motivate me. It is also incredibly evocative and certain songs and soundtracks can help me to get in touch with specific characters.

I like to compile different playlists for different areas of my life. I’ve just created a new running list which mainly has hits from the Rocky films.

For every new acting assignment, I always put together a different playlist to reflect the tone of my role and in the past these have featured just about everything – from Moby to The Doors and The Verve. Having the right music can make a difference to the way I perform.

Mother’s Day, the new BBC Two drama starring Daniel Mays about the 1992 IRA bombing in Warrington is now available on BBC iPlayer.


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