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A perfect partner in crime

You'd think Laurence Fox would find constant questions about his family nothing short of frustrating.

Yet, Laurence, of the Fox acting dynasty which includes father James, uncle Edward, and cousin Emilia, just takes it in his stride.

"No, I don't really mind at all," he says. "It's lovely coming from my family. They've been nothing but great to me."

Tall, and handsome in a high cheek-boned, aristocratic sort of way, Fox (31) is wearing jeans and a checked shirt, giving him an off-duty look also favoured by his wife of two years, Billie Piper (27).

The pair married on New Year's Eve 2007, a few months after they met in the West End play Treats and 10 months later, their son Winston, now 18 months old, was born.

The family lives in a "ramshackle" English cottage where they enjoy the good life far away from the glare of paparazzi.

"There's no point being with someone unless you want to make them happy, so we try and make each other happy, that's our job really," he says.

As for whether he's seen his wife writhe around with an assortment of gentlemen for her role in Secret Diary of a Call Girl, he simply says: "Work's work, everybody's got to do it . . . so if she gets a job and we need the money, she does it."



Sacked

Despite his illustrious surname, Fox says he'd never really considered acting as a career following his expulsion from the public school, Harrow.

"I just had no idea what I really wanted to do. I did know I needed to get a job at some point and I didn't like the jobs that I got," he says.

Those jobs included gardening, ("which I like now, oddly") seismologist data analysing, ("Lied on my CV for that one and was sacked very quickly after they realised I had no understanding of rock strata") and bar work ("I did get quite a lot of action when I was a barman, that was nice"). He was sacked from that job too.

Then one morning his father asked whether he would consider acting. Gaining entrance to RADA on his second attempt, by the time he'd graduated he'd already made his feature film debut in the horror-thriller, The Hole, alongside Keira Knightley.

He later appeared in Gosford Park and Foyle's War but it was his appearance in the television drama Colditz which caught the eye of Kevin Whately who was looking to cast his partner in a new series, Lewis.

"Kevin loves to take credit for it," says a grinning Fox on winning the coveted role of DS James Hathaway a "quiet, shy, intelligent, bookish, cynical, quite amusing, rude policeman".

Lewis is a spin-off of Inspector Morse in which Whately starred alongside John Thaw for 13 years, but Fox admits he never watched it, as Morse "wasn't my cup of tea", adding that he didn't feel any nerves about making a spin-off series.

Describing the show as "a very impressive, high-intelligence, if not high-octane, who-dunnit, detective drama", Fox explains that the picturesque backdrop of Oxford makes it stand out.

"I think it probably is the star of the show, after me of course! I like to think it's me, Oxford, then Kevin!" he says, with tongue firmly in cheek.



Brother

A host of guest stars will be appearing during the series, including Alan Davies, Rupert Graves, Nathaniel Parker, and Fox's younger brother, Jack.

"Better looking, better actor than me so the less we can say about that the better really," says Fox, with a smile.

Looking to the future, Fox adds that he doesn't have a master plan. In fact it's Billie who's recently announced she's off to look for work in Hollywood.

"It's not massively high on my list at the moment. I'd much rather take Winston around the world before he has to go to school than try and make it as a big star somewhere," he says.

The fourth series of Lewis begins on Sunday on ITV1

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