In cinemas this week: Sometimes Always Never is perfect for sartorially-conscious Bill Nighy

Sam Riley, left, and Bill Nighy play father and son in the offbeat comedy-drama Sometimes Always Never
Sam Riley, left, and Bill Nighy play father and son in the offbeat comedy-drama Sometimes Always Never

Sometimes Always Never is the perfect title for a Bill Nighy film.

It refers to when the buttons should be fastened on a suit, and Mr Nighy has always been one of our more sartorially-conscious actors.

“I always want to wear a suit, and I nearly always do,” says the man who, fittingly, plays a retired Merseyside tailor in the new comedy-drama.

“I’m a fetishist about what they used to call ‘a decent lounge suit’. I sort of want to wear the same dark-blue suit every day, maybe with a different shirt.

“My range of enthusiasm is pretty narrow. I occasionally take a break into dark grey, possibly a stripe.

“When we were 18 my friend John worked at a now-defunct high-street tailors.

“Because he worked there, John got a discount. He was a mod and he had seven suits, one for every day of the week.

“He wore a three-piece and a coxcomb hairdo and he looked very cool. That, for me, was the Holy Grail.”

As a young actor, Nighy’s wardrobe was limited to dark blue jackets that he picked up in charity shops, paired with Levi 501s and “probably a pair of Ravel loafers, and a Ben Sherman shirt – or, if I had a few quid, a John Smedley polo shirt.”

“I was an early pioneer of that look in the days when girls would say, ‘Are you really going to wear that?’, because you were supposed to wear some sort of appalling silk paisley shirt with three buttons undone.

“I would seriously have to kill myself if I wore that. I never thought my body worthy of silk. You have to have a pretty marvellous top half to get away with draping it in silk.”

Nor was Nighy a fan of rolling his suit sleeves up, as was the fashion in the 1980s.

He says: “You had to be in rooms where every other guy in the room was doing it. It’s something people who didn’t like clothes did.”

He’s uncomfortable wearing belts, because they interrupt the flow of a suit, saying: “One of the things about being able to have suits made is that you can make those decisions – to have ties at the side of the trouser instead of a belt, or to have a single vent, when the whole world tells you that you shouldn’t.”

In the film Nighy’s character has a troubled relationship with his son, played by Sam Riley, in the absence of another son who’s been missing since he walked out during a seemingly innocuous game of Scrabble.

Riley admits the lure of working with the now 69-year-old Nighy was a major draw but says: “Actually, my sister sent me a link to an article that said Nighy’s pet peeve is when people don’t know their lines – even for rehearsal.

“She sent it to me the night before I flew out to Liverpool to start rehearsing and I was like, ‘Oh hell.’

“That was a long night spent cramming.

“He’s a fascinating man. He’s sort of exactly what you’d imagine him to be like but also full of surprises as well.

“I loved his way of working. I’ve worked with method actors before but I think it should be within reason.

“If you’re playing a pain in the backside, there’s no reason to be a pain in the backside to the make-up person.

“Nighy is like the anti-method actor. It was inspirational to watch someone who was that prepared, and it encouraged me to do the same.

“He also knows everybody’s name on set and that puts you under pressure as well!”

Sometimes Always Never (12A) is in cinemas from Friday June 14.