Why would a rich, powerful lawyer suffer his wife’s infidelities and even cover up a case of vehicular manslaughter for her? For the same reason, perhaps, that Tom Wilkinson turned down The Lord Of The Rings. Wilkinson (The Exorcism Of Emily Rose) plays barrister James Manning in Separate Lies, the taut, acclaimed directorial debut of Gosford Park scripter Julian Fellowes. Manning’s life begins to unravel when he discovers not only that his wife (Emily Watson) is having an affair with a cad neighbour (Rupert Everett), but that they were jointly culpable in a vehicle/bicycle accident that killed their housekeeper’s husband.

And what about Lord Of The Rings? “Well, I was never offered a role outright. They did what was called an ‘availability check.’ They drew up lists of people for various roles and, in the case of Actor X, if he was committed to the Royal Shakespeare company for six months, then he can’t do it. [More]