In the Victorian horror thriller The Limehouse Golem, Bill Nighy plays an upstanding policeman whose career has been limited because his fellow officers see him as "not the marrying kind". Costars include Olivia Cooke, Douglas Booth, Eddie Marsan and Daniel Mays.

Bill Nighy and Olivia Cooke star in 'The Limehouse Golem'Bill Nighy and Olivia Cooke star in 'The Limehouse Golem'

And there was one thing that really sold him on the movie. "It was a great role and I've waited a long time to be a detective," he laughs. "I like the whole genre, and he's unexpected. So the idea was to hopefully avoid cliches."

He adds that the plot's big mystery also made him want to be involved. "I enjoyed reading the script, and there's a whopping great twist at the end which I didn't get when I read it," he admits. "And it's a cracking script from a really good book. Although I didn't read the book before we started. I've done a few adaptations of books lately, and to be honest it's best to read the book later. Because there are things in it that you'll regret are not in the script. The book is not the movie. The script is the movie."

Watch the trailer for 'The Limehouse Golem' here:

While he does get to inject some of his impeccable deadpan timing into the role, it's not the usual comedic character we recognise him in (see Love Actually or Their Finest). "I've probably played more straight roles than I have comic ones," he notes. "But it's always nice to have a couple of jokes up your sleeve, because you feel safer."

And he admits he has never been able to take himself very seriously. "When I started acting, I thought you had to be charming or attractive," he says. "I didn't know at that point that what you do is act it. So as someone who didn't feel attractive or at all charming, I just felt exposed. I used to hate having to be the object of desire."

Indeed, one thing he was happy to avoid on this movie was a love scene. "I wouldn't do them now," he laughs. "But if you had to do sex scenes, that was just appalling. That was a terrible day at the office! Oh God, it's the least erotic thing of all, unless your idea of eroticism is standing in a room with 12 electricians and, you know, seven other people, and having your bum made up in between takes. Even when I was young and eligible for such parts I used to hate doing them."