Rupert Everett lived in fear he would die of AIDS until they introduced the HIV test in 1985.

The 58-year-old actor, who came out as gay at a young age, has opened up about the affect it had on him watching his friends die from the sexually-transmitted disease, and admitted the prospect of contracting it means ''everybody'' around him was ''terrorised''.

Reflecting on the early 80s in an interview the Guardian newspaper, he admitted: ''To be honest, that whole period, I was living in basic terror for my life.

''I'd had a very promiscuous sex life from the moment I arrived in London.

''I'd thrown myself into the gay world, coming from this convent background, and then Aids began there was no way of finding out if you carried the virus until 1985, the HIV test.''

And the 'Shrek' star admitted he lived most of his life in a state of ''sheer panic'' that someone would spot signs of the condition.

He added: ''Everybody was terrorised by the disease. Even people who loved you, your family, you'd notice them taking your plate and washing it separately. That was my whole world - of every 60 seconds, 30 were in sheer panic. Especially being in front of a camera; I lived in fear of a cameraman saying: 'What's that on your face, Rupert?'''

The 'Quacks' actor has experienced a number of career highs and lows and he admits his wilderness periods are like a ''real death''.

He said: ''It's like snakes and ladders. Career death is rather like real death, so it gives you an opportunity to see what real death feels like.

''One minute, you're careering round the corridors of power, and everybody's going: 'That's a fabulous idea.' The next minute, you're still careering around but you're like the Canterville Ghost: everybody's walking right through you and you've died, and you didn't realise.

''You build up this character for yourself as a successful person, and it feels indestructible, especially when you're young, and then suddenly, the only person who will treat you like the big star you were is probably your mum, and some goon.

''And you think, who am I? Am I that old person who everyone treated like this one thing, or this new one who has three seconds to get his point across and get out?''