TIMOTHY SPALL THE INCREDIBLE SHRINKING MAN; Timothy Spall Has Lost So Much Weight That Fans Feared the Worst. but Here He Tells Event How His Dramatic New Look Is Simply Down to Ditching the Booze, Walking More and Sticking to a 'Scoff Less' Diet. and Best of All, It's Helped Him to Win the Beefiest Roles of His Career

The Mail on Sunday (London, England), February 11, 2018 | Go to article overview

TIMOTHY SPALL THE INCREDIBLE SHRINKING MAN; Timothy Spall Has Lost So Much Weight That Fans Feared the Worst. but Here He Tells Event How His Dramatic New Look Is Simply Down to Ditching the Booze, Walking More and Sticking to a 'Scoff Less' Diet. and Best of All, It's Helped Him to Win the Beefiest Roles of His Career


Byline: INTERVIEW BY ADRIAN DEEVOY

He is one of Britain's best-loved actors, but there's a lot less of Timothy Spall to love these days. His dramatic weight loss over the past three years has changed Spall's life - personally, professionally and philosophically. But how did the stout thespian, renowned for his physical presence and jowly passion in movies like Secrets And Lies and Mr Turner, actually do it? 'Lots of walking and watching what I put in my gob,' Spall explains with typical bluntness. 'It's the scoff less diet. Simple science says that if you eat more than you burn, you put on weight. If you eat less, it comes off. But keeping it off isn't easy. You have to be vigilant. Sticking with it is a massive pain in the a***, but the benefits far outweigh the a***ache.' Avoiding alcohol has also been key. 'Booze is riddled with sugar and it doesn't fill you up,' he says. 'If you have a bottle of wine with your dinner, it's like having two dinners.' His current tipple of choice is Diet Coke.

He doesn't 'follow any programme' but eats small portions, avoids sugar and fried food and is 'careful about calories'. Since he trimmed down, it's honed his hangdog features and given him a leaner frame on which to hang his beloved 'togs'.

'I'm 61 and I now have the same chest and waist measurements I had when I was 23,' he says. 'It's liberated me within my profession - I'm open to far more roles. I don't think I'd have played Ian Paisley [The Journey] or David Irving [Denial],' he says of the two films he made in 2016. 'It has opened a lot of doors.' Spall is almost superstitious in his reluctance to put a precise figure on how much weight he's lost, but it could be close to four stone - a quarter of his previous weight. Such was the drastic change, some assumed that Spall was ill, but he is in robust health. 'I feel very well. I have medicals for the films I do, and I seem to scrape through without any bribery. This new healthy lifestyle has meant everything is ticking over very nicely at the moment.' Earlier, he enjoyed 'a beautiful fish fillet cooked on a skillet'. Now Spall has set the early evening aside to chat about his latest film, Finding Your Feet, in which he stars alongside Imelda Staunton. The charming movie taps into the 'grey-pound' success of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, which employed more mature actors, played to older audiences and raked in more than PS100million.

In his hotel room overlooking Manchester Cathedral, Spall puts on the kettle and mulls over the Marigold effect. 'You don't have to turn 50 now and go all "shawl and bonnet", as my nan liked to say,' he laughs. 'It's no longer deemed unseemly for people to explore new horizons in later life and find love again if they have lost it. Mercifully, the film isn't an exploration of their sex lives, but it does look at the older generation not writing themselves off from new opportunities.' In Finding Your Feet we meet inspiring characters like Joanna Lumley's Jackie, who is grey-haired, fuller-figured, smart and attractive. 'She looks great!' growls Spall of her distinctly non-Ab Fab appearance.

Spall himself plays Charlie, a lovable rogue beset by inner torment - and few actors do haunted like he does. 'Don't say that,' he cries. 'I'll start overdoing it.' The storyline also features some dance sequences that reveal Spall to be quite the nifty mover. 'My dance moves are heavily indebted to Suggs from Madness in his prime,' he deadpans. 'With a touch of Baryshnikov.' Just don't expect to see Spall on Strictly Come Dancing. 'Not my cup of tea at all,' he grunts. 'I'm more likely to go hang-gliding.' Spall became a household name in the Eighties with his portrayal of Brummie electrician Barry Spencer Taylor in the comedy-drama Auf Wiedersehen, Pet. Yet the show's huge success had a bizarre effect on his career. …

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TIMOTHY SPALL THE INCREDIBLE SHRINKING MAN; Timothy Spall Has Lost So Much Weight That Fans Feared the Worst. but Here He Tells Event How His Dramatic New Look Is Simply Down to Ditching the Booze, Walking More and Sticking to a 'Scoff Less' Diet. and Best of All, It's Helped Him to Win the Beefiest Roles of His Career
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