Jim Broadbent discusses career and an unexpected hobby

In a recent interview with the Guardian, it is apparent that Jim Broadbent is as charmingly eccentric as the character he portrays in Harry Potter, Horace Slughorn. With two new movies set to be released over the coming weeks, and more on the way, Broadbent has certainly been keeping himself busy. He never loses sight of his values, though, and always makes time for his favorite hobby.

Throughout his career, Broadbent has appeared in many award-winning movies, including Moulin Rouge, Gangs of New York, and The Iron Lady. He has also garnered a number of awards himself, including the best supporting Oscar for his portrayal of John Bayley in Iris. What he credits as his greatest contribution, however, may surprise you. It was his turning down of the role of Derek Trotter in BBC sitcom Only Fools and Horses.

I like to say that it was my big contribution to British culture. I would have done one [season], and it wouldn’t have been particularly successful. And even if it had been successful, I’d have wanted to do something else. And then the world would never have known ‘Only Fools and Horses.’

Broadbent also famously turned down an OBE (Order of the British Empire). An OBE recognizes service in many different areas, including arts and sciences, charitable work, and public service.

On turning down the OBE, Broadbent says,

I didn’t think it would suit me. I’ve been fairly selfish with everything I’ve done, and I get enough prizes elsewhere, and I didn’t think I deserved it, really. And also my father died when I was 22, and he was quite an anarchic spirit, and he would have been proud of me to have turned it down.

That isn’t the only reason Broadbent turned down the award, though:

The main reason is that I think actors should be anti-establishment. And I like the idea of being a rogue and a vagabond and not being appreciated by the powers that be. I like the idea, even if I don’t do it much.

Though many refer to Broadbent as a national treasure, the actor brushes off that title as well, saying.

Oh, no. Well, yes, I suppose so, in a way. C-list national treasure. I’m not a Thora Hird or a Julie Walters.

Unlike his Harry Potter on-screen counterpart, Broadbent may not be transfiguring himself into armchairs in his free time, but he does enjoy transfiguring bits of wood into funny little people. He is a sculptor. Broadbent describes his hobby, saying,

Making people out of wood […] it’s just another way of inventing characters; it’s all part of the same process. Stick on clothes and hair and paint the faces.

Broadbent, who turned 65 this year, shows no signs of slowing down. His latest films, Paddington and Get Santa, hit theaters soon. You can view the Get Santa trailer below, along with some stills from the film, due out in the UK on December 5. Notice that Jim is joined by another familiar face from the Harry Potter series, actor Warwick Davis and the son of Timothy Spall (Peter Pettigrew), actor Rafe Spall.

Jim has also joined the cast of The Lady in the Van alongside Harry Potter alumna Dame Maggie Smith, as well as the new thriller London Spy.

Do you think Broadbent deserved the OBE he turned down? Are you excited to see him in his upcoming films? What is your favorite movie Broadbent has appeared in to date?