Many people long to have had a more entitled upbringing, but Dominic Cooper certainly isn’t in that camp.
“I’ve never seen it be that healthy, just growing up with too much, having everything. You can be really envious of that and think it’s the best thing in the world but actually, from my experience, it’s a hindrance to everyone,” says the bright-eyed 35-year-old.
“It prohibits that desire to need or want or invest or dare or take risks. It’s full of more complications than the other way round.”
Born and raised in South East London, his grounded roots have served him well.
He’s now one of the most prominent actors working in Hollywood following his turn in the 2008 box office smash Mamma Mia! opposite Meryl Streep. But while his life might now involve enviable travel opportunities and red carpet glamour, he finds certain experiences amusing.
“You find yourself in ambassadors’ houses in different countries and you go, ‘Gosh, if they could see me when I was scratching around the streets of Lewisham [South London] late at night having fun!’” he says, laughing.
Cooper’s start in life is far removed from the grandeur of Bond creator Ian Fleming, who he plays in a glossy new series called Fleming. The drama starts during the Second World War, where Fleming is drafted as an intelligence officer, and in doing so, finds his inspiration for 007.
“Fleming is a very complex, strange, disturbed individual, which is what attracted me to [the role],” says the actor.
“His family connections finally managed to get him a job with the secret service, and suddenly his vivid imagination came to life and he had a very different take on how to win the war.
“I met various people who have some sort of connection to the spying world and they talk of Ian and say he was the real deal,” he adds.
While Fleming was “brutish” and “difficult to be around”, Cooper admits he wouldn’t mind a shot at playing his famous suave, womanising intelligence officer.
“I don’t think there will be anyone who says: ‘No thanks, I won’t do that job’, or, ‘That’s not my thing’. You have to say yes to Bond.”
Cooper rose to prominence in the 2006 film The History Boys. He’s since starred in An Education, Starter For Ten and The Duchess, with roles in Need For Speed and a sequel to Captain America coming up.
By his own admission, Cooper’s preferred environment is a very “basic” one where friends, family, football and tea provide equal happiness.
“Normality is playing football on a Thursday night in a cage in Deptford [South London],” he reveals, laughing, adding that he “makes a little home” for himself wherever he goes for work.
One of Cooper’s footy-mad mates is James Corden, who he met when they did The History Boys together on stage and the pair later became housemates.
“The History Boys feels like the other day,” Cooper recalls. “It feels like two years ago; it was 10. I did it again for the 50th anniversary of the National Theatre show.”
Originally, the film, which was written by Alan Bennett, starred the late Richard Griffiths and the cast found it hard to reunite without him around.
“It was sad without Richard,” says the actor. “Alan Bennett played his part, which made it really special and reminded us of what a special time it was.
“We missed Richard. We knew we were doing it and then sadly Richard passed away. I think Alan Bennett was the only person who could possibly have done it with us,” he adds.
Despite the sadness, Cooper found the reunion a positive experience in many ways.
“It reminded us all of what an incredibly informative and wonderful [experience it was],” he says.
“It raised the expectation and bar of work we wanted to be involved in.”
lFleming started on Sky Atlantic on February 12