Andrew Scott says he took acting classes as a child to help him cope with his shyness.
The actor told ES Magazine the lessons were “terrifying” — but he loved them.
Now 42, he has gone on to have a hugely successful acting career, with roles in Sherlock, Bond movie Spectre and, most recently, as the “hot priest” in Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s critically-acclaimed Fleabag.
Scott, who grew up in Ireland, said: “I was very shy and had a bit of a lisp, so I went to drama classes.
“And for some reason, even though it was terrifying having to stand up in front of other kids, I really loved it.”
Remarking he was still shy even now, he added: “I’ve learned that I can’t be. You have to overcome it.”
Scott, who will next year appear in the BBC’s adaptation of Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials, said 2019 had been “amazing”, largely due to his role in the second series of Fleabag.
He played a priest who develops a relationship with Waller-Bridge’s lead character.
The series, which also starred Olivia Colman, Fiona Shaw and Dame Kristin Scott Thomas, picked up six awards at this year’s Emmys — and turned Scott into a reluctant sex symbol.
While he said he found the label “embarrassing”, he added that Fleabag was one of the few shows he had been able to watch himself in.
“I usually find it very difficult to watch things I’m in,” he said. “This time I’m like, ‘Yeah, I’ll watch that with you’.”
He said of Waller-Bridge: “We have plans to work together. She’s a total delight. I love her. We’ve got exciting plans afoot.”
Scott, who was raised as a Catholic, is gay and is no longer a member of the church.
He said when he moved to London in his early twenties “I was fearful, still living with a lot of shame and isolation, shaking off the culture of Catholicism”.
He said his conflict with the church was not only because of his own sexuality, explaining: “I think the most insidious thing about the Catholic church’s approach to sex is that you can’t even speak about it. It’s like it doesn’t even exist. Any type of sex — never mind the kind they banned.”
But he praised Waller-Bridge for writing about a priest, saying: “To see a priest who is a human being is important.
“To fall in love with somebody but to be married to the church — that’s a really interesting dilemma.
“I think more people of our generation would enter the church if they could have a love as well as a spiritual life.”
Read Andrew Scott’s full interview in ES Magazine - free every Thursday and Friday.