Graham Kibble-White tries to keep up with Bill Paxton in a very free-roaming conversation...
Bill Paxton can cover a lot of ground in half-an-hour.
We meet at a suite in London's Dorchester Hotel for a conversation that ends up touching on a dizzying array of topics - from polygamy, to the frustrations of being a leading man, to US foreign policy, to his 12-year-old son's burgeoning sexuality (an amusing story that is perhaps best not repeated).
And all this from a man who's suffering a serious bout of jet lag after flying into the UK as part of a European tour to promote his new series, Big Love, on Channel 5 from Monday.
The show premiered in the US in March, where it's managed to bag a huge audience.
"It's been gangbusters," says the 51-year-old, best known for appearances in films such as Twister, Weird Science and Thunderbirds.
"Every week we've watched the numbers go up. It was as if, exponentially, it just went out like a wave. It must be viewers telling their friends to watch it."
That's despite the fact the drama tackles a particularly controversial topic. The show centres on the Henrickson family, and in particular, the patriarch, a character also called Bill (and played by Paxton).
He's a hard-working husband and father of seven who tries to find enough time for his clan while over-seeing the expansion of his successful home-improvement business.
But there's a twist. The man is also a polygamist, and with three wives and three homes to maintain, his life is anything but ordinary.
"There was a lot of concern from the Mormon church about how this was going to go down," says Paxton, reflecting on the series' response so far.
"They've been trying to extricate themselves from their polygamous roots for over 100 years now, so the last thing they want is some show to come along and say, 'Hey, polygamy!'.
"But we're not saying we're Mormons in the programme, although the family grew up with the tenets of that faith.
"For me it was absolutely paramount we play these characters dead earnestly as far as their spiritual convictions go, because I wasn't going to do a show that was making fun of any group. In other words, I don't look to court controversy.
"I found more of a common thread in this thing in terms of family. And I found a lot of things I admire about Bill Henrickson. I don't know how he does it. God bless him."
Other facets of the show have also proved appealing to the actor.
"I love the idea of having three leading ladies," he chuckles. "You're talking to an actor who never got to do the great romantic parts, and who really thought that might have been his thing."
Reflecting on his career, he goes on to say he's always enjoyed playing character roles, and that when he's taken the heroic lead in films, critics make him sound like "the stalwart, rugged good-looks kind of actor who's so damn boring".
Nevertheless he accepts that: "When you're playing the lead, you're the tour guide for the audience.
"You have to be the anchor man," he continues. "Everyone else in the cast can spin out of control around you, but you've got to hold the line, and they're probably going to steal the movie from you.
"What's fun about Big Love is I have to be an anchor man, but it's also giving me the chance to do a little bit of physical comedy - and I'm getting to romance the gals. So it's not a bad situation.
"Maybe I'm just a late bloomer. I've been a professional actor for most of my life, but I feel like I'm finally gleaning some insight into my craft. Or some acceptance.
"Whatever it is, I feel like I'm ready to maybe do the best work I've ever done."
Like many critics in the US, Bill feels Big Love is tackling more than just polygamy.
"It's about how much freedom we're willing to allow in our 'free' society," he says.
"At the moment in America, there's a whole thing about giving same-sex couples rights. I feel it's so hypocritical for someone to say, 'Well, I'm a heterosexual, and I'm married and I've got a family. Yet, when it comes to something these people want to do, which has no adverse effect on me, I'm saying no, that's not right. That's an abomination'.
"Come on! Where's the compassion? Where's the love your fellow man thing? Where's the live and let live? Life, liberty and pursuit of happiness? 'Yeah, for me, but not for you'. I mean, what is that?"
With growing passion, Bill continues: "We're living in a strange time. There's been this kind of lock-down mentality that's come through in the last five years, a polarisation in the US between conservative and liberal. It's a weird throwback to that 1950s communist Cold War paranoia.
"I grew up in the 1960s, and I'm a child of the Age of Aquarius. I thought it was just going to evolve from there, but we seem to have gone back to the Dark Ages.
"I'm waiting for the counter-culture to come back. I can't believe in these political times we haven't seen people hit the streets.
"It's so sad this situation we're in. I don't think anybody foresaw this."
Bill feels a lot of his country's problems stem from September 11.
"America lost a huge public relations coup on that day," he muses. "They shouldn't have raised an American flag, but one that symbolises all countries of the world.
"I used to deliver messages at the World Trade Towers when I was a student at NYU. One thing that struck me going from floor to floor was that I must have heard 25 or 30 different languages.
"We're all refugees in America, and what makes it a great nation is its diversity. We've never exported that fact. Instead we always try and sell this American thing, which I feel is bad world diplomacy.
"There's a stigma attached to being American, now," he says, shaking his head, "and all this stuff is coming home to roost.
* Big Love is on Channel 5 from Monday June 12