I'm a judge for the British Independent Film Awards and the Royal Television Society, which means I get to watch the best of British cinema and television. I've found it really inspiring. There are great films that cross over into the mainstream like The Last King of Scotland and there are smaller films like London to Brighton, which is a superb little thriller.... On the television I was watching Longford.... [In the film,] Jim Broadbent is a perfect example of how less is more.... The performance he gave was so simple it was as if he gave virtually no performance.
I like to listen to podcasts – one in particular called From Our Own Correspondent. It's BBC correspondents from all over the world and ... they get to ruminate about things that might not be newsy enough to make the evening broadcast.... I also like to listen to Craig Jerris who writes the most beautiful lyrics. I love lyrics. I can't listen to music if I can't understand the words, like rap or hip-hop. I listen to a lot of Gershwin and Cole Porter just for the words.
I read a lot of scripts, obviously since that's my job.... But Philip Roth is my favorite novelist.... It was a terrible movie, but The Human Stain was the best book I ever read. Since I had just played the British ambassador [in the BBC America production, "The State Within"], I read DC Confidential by the former British Ambassador Christopher Meyer. He's very funny and slightly irreverent. But I was amazed to find out how much more powerful and influential ambassadors are than I thought.... It made me really believe in the script and gave me a certain confidence and maybe even swagger playing the part.
• Jason Isaacs stars in a production of Harold Pinter's "The Dumb Waiter" in London's West End as well as the BBC America miniseries, "The State Within," which debuts Feb 17.