Danny Huston on following his father’s footsteps as a director

Danny has returned to directing with his new film The Last Photograph (Picture: Getty/ Metro.co.uk)

The Hollywood actor, 58, on his best chat-up lines, directing his new film and not being the son of Jack Nicholson.

Can I confess something? For years I thought you were Jack Nicholson’s son. It’s the eyebrows…

Ha ha! It’s not the first time I have heard that. Jack does feel somewhat like family because my sister, Anjelica, was with him for so long.

I remember my father [legendary director John Huston] saying that they were together longer than any one of his marriages.

What are your best and worst chat-up lines?

‘What’s your astrological sign?’ is usually a bad one. ‘Can I get you a drink?’ is probably a little bit more successful.

With those eyebrows, it’s not the first time Danny has been mistaken for Jack Nicholson’s son (Picture: Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

Where did you wake up today?

At my home in Hollywood. But if there is one great luxury about working in film, it is travelling.

A month ago I was in Venice, playing a doctor in a World War II film based on a Hemingway novel called Across The River And Into The Trees. I remember my father trying to adapt it many years ago but he never got it made.

Then I went to visit my mother in England and just by chance I was offered a film in Paris, so I went there. And I have a young daughter [Luna, aged two], so I have just spent the weekend with her at my sister’s ranch near Sequoia National Park.

It all involved a lot of documents and quarantine and protocols and spooky airports, so it is not quite as glamorous as it sounds.

How is it being a dad second time around?

It requires a little bit more energy than I recall! But Luna is absolutely wonderful and I enjoy every minute I get with her. When they start forming words and all the eccentricities of their characters start to come out, it is a joy.

The Last Photograph is the first film you’ve directed in almost 20 years. Why?

I started off as a director. I just sort of fell into acting because I wasn’t able to get my directing projects off the ground and friends started casting me in their films out of the kindness of their hearts.

What’s it about?

It’s a simple, beautiful story, eloquently written by my friend Simon Astaire. A photograph is stolen from the main character [played by Huston], who then starts to spiral.

And through the story we discover what the photo means to him. I guess we all have objects that carry meaning and bring the memory of someone we’ve lost back to us.

What would you save in a fire?

My father’s watch. It is so precious that I keep it in a safe, though right now you are making me want to go and open up the safe and actually look at it.

Sometimes the things we treasure, we protect them too much, we put them in a box and hide them.

In my house in Berkshire, where my mother lives, there is a memory room, and we have lots of photographs and screenplays and awards that my father had, and letters he wrote to Steinbeck and Hemingway, and things from my film school days. I can spend a lot of time in that room. It brings a lot of nostalgia.

Your dad directed all-time classics like The Maltese Falcon in 1941 and The Treasure Of The Sierra Madre in 1948. Was it tough following in his footsteps?

When I studied at the London International Film School, not a lot of fuss was made about it. I felt more pressure from my father.

I remember I had a little Super 8 camera and I was filming everywhere and everything, and he would be like, ‘Stop that! What are you doing? When you look from right to left and left to right, what do you do?’ I said, ‘I don’t know, Dad.’ He said, ‘You blink. That’s a cut. Concentrate on what it is you are trying to say and forget all of the nonsense.’

That was one of my first lessons. I was so proud when I directed a title sequence for him for his film Under The Volcano and it made the cut.

Danny and Brian Cox have both brought X-Men’s General Stryker to life (Picture: Ken McKay/ITV/REX)

How did you swing appearing in both Marvel’s X-Men Origins: Wolverine and DC’s Wonder Woman?

It is rare to be in both universes. I have travelled the galaxy! I remember meeting Brian Cox in Edinburgh before we worked together on Succession, and him pointing at me and saying, ‘You’re playing me,’ because we both played General Stryker [in X-Men].

I quite like watching the things I am in just to see if I got away with it and breathe a sigh of relief but I loved watching Succession. It is just such great, cruel, wicked writing and the team are fantastic.

If you could have picked your own name, what would it be?

Oh my word. You mentioned The Maltese Falcon just now so I will choose Sam, as in Sam Spade.

What was your teenage obsession?

I was always into The Beatles, I guess, and hanging out with Anjelica was always a cool thing to do – she hung out with The Rolling Stones. It’s always fun spending time with Anjelica.

The Last Photograph is available to download/stream on digital platforms.

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