Actor Daniel Mays on running to clear his head and keeping an open mind at all times

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I’M in charge of the school run. Our house is very loving, but it’s 
also manic because we’re all extroverts, so it can be a haphazard operation in the morning.

If I’m filming early then I’ll be out of the house for 5.30am. On normal days I’ll get the kids [Mylo, 13, and Dixie, six] up before we all head downstairs for pancakes made by my wife Louise [39, a make-up artist]. I grew up in Essex as the third of four boys, so I’m used to a very noisy and hectic home.

Daniel Mays runs with five dads to keep his mind fresh on set
Daniel Mays runs with five dads to keep his mind fresh on set
Dave Willis

Running clears my head. I remember my lines better and my mood is completely lifted if I’ve done some form of exercise, so I make it a priority to go jogging most days. I also work out with a group of five dads on Hampstead Heath every Saturday morning. Our WhatsApp group is called the Hardcore Health Lads. They wind me up about being a “celebrity”, but we have a laugh and it keeps me grounded.

Nothing beats filming on location. I spent six weeks in Port Isaac, Cornwall, shooting my latest movie, Fisherman’s Friends. My family came down to stay in a cottage with me for two weeks and it was 
so beautiful and refreshing to be in that environment every day. Now I’m filming a new Sky series in an old factory in west London 
– it’s pretty dingy and smelly in comparison. The reality of working 
on big productions is that it’s usually really long days and a gruelling schedule. One thing I’ve learned on set over the years is that nothing is more important than the caterers – lunch is the best part of our 
day and if the food is bad then no one is happy.

I never know what’s around the corner in this industry. I always try to keep an open mind and never focus too much on what type 
of role I want. It’s important to take each opportunity as it comes.

Sundays are for pub lunches and football. My mum and dad live around the corner in north London, and at the weekends we’ll all go 
for a long walk before tucking into a roast at our local.

Mays weighs in on a good lunch helping make everyone happy during a long day of filming
Mays weighs in on a good lunch helping make everyone happy during a long day of filming
Georgia Glynn-Smith
After the kids are tucked in bed Daniel likes to cosy up with his wife on the sofa
After the kids are tucked in bed Daniel likes to cosy up with his wife on the sofa
Getty Images


I’m trying 
to educate the kids about classic films like Field Of Dreams and The Sixth Sense, so in the afternoon we’ll curl up on the sofa as a family and pop on a good flick. I’m a big Leyton Orient fan, so I’ll try to 
catch the game if they’re playing, too. My daughter has got me wrapped round her little finger. She’s strong-willed and knows how to push the boundaries, but on school nights I try to get her to bed for 8pm after a nice bath.

Then I wrestle my son off his PlayStation before chilling out on the sofa with Louise. 
I find a heavy TV series a bit daunting after a full day of filming or running the kids about, so we just watch normal telly and chat about nothing before lights out at 10pm.

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Sources: *Contiki, **Wowcher

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