To play the lead role in the film adaptation of Booker Prize-winning novel The Sense of an Ending, Jim Broadbent says that going back to Julian Barnes' writing was the key. "Just how someone speaks reveals so much about them," Broadbent says of his character, Tony. "Hearing that voice is the most useful thing you can get."

Jim Broadbent in The Sense Of An EndingJim Broadbent in The Sense Of An Ending

Broadbent says that the role resonated in his own past, especially his school days. "I wasn't quite one of those smart, intellectual sixth-formers," he laughs, "but those schoolboy relationships are fairly consistent over the generations, and I certainly recognise him from my own. I also recognise the arrogance and awkwardness of youth. So the arc of his life from school until now, I knew exactly where he was coming from."

The 68-year-old Oscar-winning actor goes on to say that the character's conflicting personality made him especially fun to play. "Tony is such a believable, vulnerable, damaged, self-regarding man," says Broadbent. "I like him and I like the fact that he is monumentally flawed as well. Sensitive, clumsy, foolish, arrogant, pompous, everything. He's kind as well. It all adds up to complexity. And he's exactly my age, or perhaps a fraction older."

For the actor, the film is about "history and about the stories we tell ourselves and how unreliable they are", and he thinks that it challenges us to confront our past and learn from it. This is something Broadbent has tried to do throughout his career, working in a range of genres on films by Martin Scorsese, Steven Spielberg, Mike Leigh and Woody Allen, plus two Harry Potters, three Bridget Joneses and two Paddingtons.

"I think from the word go I knew it would be good for me to spread my net very wide and try a lot of different things," he says. "I'm always looking for the job I haven't done before, something new. It's always a learning experience."

His next role is in the new season of Game of Thrones, in which he plays Archmaester Marwyn, a professor. Of course, Broadbent can't say anything about the show. "I found it fascinating to work on such an extraordinary and iconic production," he says. "I suppose it's similar in a way to coming in and doing what I did in Harry Potter. Every part of the production was so impressive. I was fascinated by how it all worked. I think it's going to be very exciting. My contribution, I don't know, but it certainly is looking great."

Watch the trailer for The Sense Of An Ending: