Check out my quick interview with one of the nicest and most talented men in the film industry – Idris Elba
A lot of your acting roles have been very diverse from a Marine, to a devoted single father, to a Drug Kingpin and even Stringer Bell – was very different to your role as a drug lord in American Gangster how do you pick your roles is it on purpose that there so diverse?
Idris Elba: Yeah definitely I want to smash out as many sides of who I am, acting is definitely an extension of your personality, you definitely have to have your idiosyncrasies when you learn your lines but you have to bring your own personality to the character. Honestly Matthew in the last five years I’ve realized I’ve got so many different personality’s I think I’ve got a disorder in my head (laughs), it’s hard to squeeze all these personality’s into one character so with every role I get a chance to show something different so I’ve definitely been lucky to not just play one stereotype character to pay the bills.
Yeah especially with the Stringer Bell character being so big did you get a lot of offers for similar roles?
Idris Elba: Yeah continuously, people want to see you play the same thing, just like if you’re a musician if you put out a banging hip hop album then next you go on a rock tip your probably gonna lose your audience but if you show your officially diverse in everyway I think people will go with you.
So how was it like working with Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe two of the biggest actors of the last two decades?
Idris Elba: I didn’t actually work with Russell you know. Denzel’s intense, definitely intense. I haven’t really said this to anyone before but with Denzel when your working with someone at that level he’s at you just bring you’re A game, you’ll fall on your face if your nervous, you have to be a hundred percent and with Denzel he didn’t show up to the set, his character showed up to the set, you didn’t get any more than that, so whatever his character was feeling about my character that’s what you got, so if you shake his hand and his character didn’t like yours he’s not really shaking your hand, there’s no conversation or friendly banter because his character and my character had proper beef. I remember filming one of the scenes I said hello to Denzel and he kinda dissed me and later I realized he was in character but it pissed me off, I felt too myself fuck him then and that came across in the film.
His character took you out though man that was a harsh way to go you have to get him back?
Idris Elba: (Laughs) I got him back believe me (laughs). I like Denzel as an actor I’d love to do a film with him for a good six months and carve out some real shit and delve into the characters were playing and merk it you know.
Are the American audience shocked by your English accent?
Idris Elba: (Laughs) A lot of them don’t know I’m English, they’ll think I’m doing a great English accent, I have to tell some people I’m not actually Stringer Bell
How do you follow the football I know you support Arsenal?
Idris Elba: I try to keep up, Fox Sports have it I think and in LA there’s so many English, you bump into a geezer over there and ask what’s the score mate, they’ll be like (in an American accent) Arsenal played Chelsea today and they kicked some ass dude but the referee is an asshole dude (Laughs)
Have you got any last words or shout outs?
Idris Elba: Boy big shout out to East London, Forest Gate my old manor, big up Quincy the comedian big up my boy Boogie that’s my team man, I’ve got too big up Vanessa, Chantelle, I love coming back home and with the music and the films I wanna celebrate it back home in London and spread it.
Idris Elba will next be in Cinemas with Taker – also starring Matt Dillon, Michael Ealy, Chris Brown, Paul Walker, T.I., and Hayden Christensen
Paul Bettany plays the scientist Charles Darwin in Jon Amiel’s Creation, which is based on the book, Annie’s Box, by Randal Keynes about the life of his great, great grandfather. Oscar winning actress Jennifer Connelly plays Darwin’s wife, Emma, and they star alongside Jeremy Northam, Toby Jones and Benedict Cumberbatch.
Described as part ghost story, part psychological thriller and part heart wrenching love story, Creation brings vividly to life history’s most eminent scientist as a deeply conservative man tortured by arguably the most important discovery in history – the theory of evolution – that will deal a body blow to religion and the Christian beliefs that his devout wife clings to for comfort after the death of their beloved 10 year-old daughter, Annie.
Told with flashbacks from the past – when Annie was still alive – to the present where Darwin delays releasing the findings of his meticulous research which will eventually be published as On The Origin of Species. The film is timely, of course, as this year marks the bicentenary of his birth and the 150th anniversary of his most famous work.
Bettany, 38, was born in Harlesden near London and studied at The Drama Centre before starting his career with roles in television, including Killer Net, a Lynda La Plante thriller and Sharpe’s Waterloo.
His portrayal of a ruthless crook in Gangster No. 1 paved the way for a film career that has included A Knight’s Tale, A Beautiful Mind, Dogville, Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World, The Da Vinci Code, The Secret Life of Bees and The Young Victoria.
Were you nervous at all about working with Jennifer?
A: More in the build up to it because it was like ‘oh my god, we’ve said yes to this and we’re actually going to work together and what’s that going to be like?’ Because I can’t go home and slag off the leading actress to my wife – because she is the leading actress. (laughs).
So what was it like?
A: I’d probably lie anyway, but I don’t have to, and the truth is it was such an easy working relationship and she is a fantastic actress. I knew that before and I know it even more now. It was great, really great.
But didn’t your home life and working life begin to blur a little?
A: You know when you are shooting those sort of movies and you are doing 15 hours, six-day weeks and you get home and play with your kids and put them to bed. And on Sunday you want to spend your time with them. They are on set the whole time, so they are with us, but any spare time you want to devote to them. And, frankly, you are too tired to bring it home with you. You just get by. But actually if you need to talk about a scene you are doing together the next day you have the person you are doing it with right there, so that’s good. Jennifer is so fastidious that when I thought about the two of us making a film together, I thought ‘we’ll be up all night talking about it!’ (laughs). But the truth of it was that we were in rags – we would go home, put the kids to bed, eat and go to bed
Did you know much about Darwin before you started on this project?
A: I felt like I knew quite a bit about him actually but then when you are going to play a role like this it gives you the perfect opportunity to be entirely specific about one person in history.
There must be a lot of material out there…
A: Absolutely – there is so much. He himself was so prolific with like a book a year. I now can’t separate to what I knew and what I learnt. I will say that it was an exercise in complete frustration because the amount that he wrote and the amount that has subsequently been written about him, you were always looking at a pillar of unread books.
But what did you take from the research that you could actually use in the performance?
A: You are always looking for the thing that conflicts inside the person and there’s a lot of things that like – the conflict in his marriage, the loss of a child, his wife’s religious beliefs and the fact that he is in the process of killing God.
What conclusions did you draw about him?
A: I think he was a social conservative with a revolutionary idea and that’s painful. He moved at glacial speed anyway and we know that he wasn’t the greatest student but what he could do was look at something fresh and I don’t think he had a snobbery about where the information came from – so whether he was talking to a farmer or whether he was talking to a professor, it didn’t matter it was all about the information. He was rigorous and he moved slowly and I think these ideas came to him. He read a book on economics and he sort of took the formula and saw it in nature everywhere and suddenly couldn’t stop seeing it. And what he discovered, with meticulous research, meant that he couldn’t deny the fact that gradual changes over time happen if you want to survive in your environment.
Survival of the fittest…
A: Survival of the fittest has actually become a bit of a problem whereas it’s more the survival of the most apt and survival of the most keen to adapt, really. And he just couldn’t stop seeing it and I think that made him ill. So that’s even before you get into the whole thing about his wife’s religion and knowing that his discoveries were going to be like a bomb going off. He knew of course that his wife took great solace in her religion after the death of their children. In the film we focus on the loss of one child but in fact they lost three.
You clearly built up quite a picture of the man. Did you like him?
A: Yes. I haven’t found a bad word said about him apart from on the Internet now. People that knew him say he was a decent man and a great father. I once heard it levelled that he sort of would study his children like experiments, but when you think that science was such a huge love in his life then it becomes an act of the utmost love to do that.
How important is it that the film is based on Randal Keynes’ book?
A: Very important. I got the script and I thought it was beautiful – its one of the best scripts I’ve ever read. It’s John Collee who wrote Master and Commander and he’s the bollocks. And Randal Keynes is all things Darwin – he is his great, great grandson, which was important because you have that seal of approval right from the beginning and that’s crucial because you are dealing with that biographical stuff. But moreover it worked as a script and as a story even if you took out the fact that it’s Darwin. This is a story about a marriage in crisis and the loss of a child. It’s compelling enough even if it wasn’t about Darwin.
The film shows that Darwin took a long time to publish The Origin of the Species. Why do you think that was?
A: There were a lot of contributing factors – his wife, his fear of social disorder, of being ostracised by this world that really embraced him. It embraced him prior to this just because of his writings on the Beagle (his findings from a five year voyage on HMS Beagle established his reputation). He came back and he was a bit of a star in that scientific community immediately. So I think there were a lot of factors that stopped him. He writes about it himself. He quite clinically thought ‘why did I come up with this idea? How did this come to me?’ And he put it down to the fact that he was incredibly observant – he has this over developed muscle for observation without putting any pre-determined ideas on it. He would talk to a guy who was a pigeon fancier in the pub exactly the same way he would talk to a professor at Oxford University and everything he heard had the same weight, whether the syntax was right or not, it was all information for him. Also, he was clearly incredibly thorough and that’s also part of why it took 20 years.
The film is very much a love story, too, isn’t it?
A: Oh my God, he loved her. She had ten children and in their marriage there was not a time she wasn’t pregnant, they did not stop having children. She had her last child at 49 and in that era it’s extraordinary. They were so in love with each other. It doesn’t come into our film but they used to play backgammon every day and he kept a running total of who was winning – they just entirely adored each other but had had this incredibly alienating experience at a time when she was being drawn into religion and he was being pulled apart.
You live in the States now. Have you settled to life over there?
A: You know, work wise it doesn’t really matter were we live. I’m in a lucky position that it just doesn’t matter for me anymore. But we are there for the family. Jennifer has lots of relatives there and I love it in New York and we also have a place in the country, which is fantastic. It took me three years to realise ‘**** I’m not going home! I’d better get some American mates..’ And I’ve got some American mates now but I keep in touch with all my mates back in London and they come out and see me, too, which is great. But yes, I love it there. Maybe we’ll come back to Europe at one point in the future but not for a few years while the kids are going through schools.
Creation is in cinemas 25th September
While promoting Night At The Museum: Battle Of The Smithsonian I was fortunate to interview Ben Stiller, Ricky Gervais and Hank Azaria.
Night At The Museam: Battle Of The Smithsonian is the sequel to the american adventure comedy fim Night At The Museum (which has grossed over $571,069,550). The film starred Ben Stiller, Robin Williams, Amy Adams, Owen Wilson, Rami Malek, Hank Azaria, Bill Hader, Ricky Gervais, Christopher Guest and Steve Coogan.
There’s a line in the film that goes ‘Happiness is doing what you love with people you love’, would you endorse that?
Ben Stiller: Yeah definitely that’s the idea behind the movie, we had to figure out a way of making a 2nd movie because at the end of the 1st movie everything was so happy, so we had to figure out a problem to begin the next one with. The idea that Larry becomes successful and all the problems of success draw him away from happiness, success doesn’t always lead to happiness.
Ricky Gervais: I just did the film for money.
Hank Azaria: If you’re asking me if I’m in love with Ben and Rick the answer is yes, I did fall in love with them.
Hank how many different voices did you go through before settling on the final voices?
Hank Azaria: With Kah Mun Rah I wanted him to sound stupid, with Abraham Lincoln I would mess around with temporary voices on set and they ended up using the one I made up on set, we tried a bunch of different things, Abraham Lincoln was hard because he had to sound Presidential but also funny. We tried a bunch of different version of Kah Mun Rah, I had 5 or 6 at the testing’s then as a joke at the end I said what about Boris Karloff (in the accent) he’d be a good Mummy if he were still alive. I still can’t believe we actually used that but it made them laugh.
Ben Stiller: It’s such a silly voice
Ricky Gervais: I used my own accent, I’ve nailed it.
How do feel about Night At The Museum 3 if all goes well with this? Do you see this as something that can go further or do you think it stops here because it can’t get much bigger than this with the Smithsonian?
Ben Stiller: I don’t know you know, with this one we had to figure out an interesting story, the idea of doing a 3rd one would be great and a lot of fun, but the main thing would be how to figure out how to sustain itself. If the audience want to see it there’s ideas already floating around but working with these guys again would be great. It’s just trying to figure out something different.
Ricky Gervais: We could just do it in a normal museum where nothing comes to life that would be great.
What type of jobs did you have before you became an actor?
Ben Stiller: I was a bus boy, a really bad waiter, I waited on Dudley Moore once and I was very interested in what he was talking about so I hovered around him, I think I annoyed him, I also worked in a camera store when I was a teenager, I was a scuba a diving instructor in Massachusetts for a couple summers. It all helped me in my career (laughs). I was a bad student but I liked archaeology, I wanted to become an archaeologist but because I had such bad grades I wasn’t gonna get in to any good College so I fell back on acting.
Hank Azaria: I was a bus boy as well but I was a really good one, I could clear a table really well. In fact I was so bored I would try out accents, people would look through you if you sounded regular but if I said ‘Are you finished with this’(in a really good French accent) they would be like where are you from? My first job was as a bar tender though, I was fired from every job I had except acting.
Ricky Gervais: I worked in an Office (laughs). That worked out alright.
Ricky do you ever get back to Reading that much? Do you ever meet up with the other Reading Hollywood contingent at all Kate Winslot?
Ricky Gervais: No I think she was born on the other side of the tracks (laughs). I go back about twice a year to see folks dotted around and see family. When I lived there I didn’t go out after dark obviously, it’s like I Am Legend (laughs). I’m actually in pre production for a film set in Reading but we’re not filming it there we’re filming it in Hampstead though. I had good times in Reading I thought it was great and I got out when I was 18. I’ve got fond memories from Reading.
What was it like working with each other and were you distracted by Amy Adams flight trousers?
Ben Stiller: I enjoyed the trousers, I thought she looked great in them, I was happy to shoot scenes with here every day, we did laugh a lot, it was great to hang out with people who you admire.
Ricky Gervais: I was only filming for two day’s
Ben Stiller: The first one was exciting because we had week and weeks of acting with nothing, running away from Dinosaurs when their not actually there, not having people to interact with, then Ricky shows up and we were like oh my god!
Ricky Gervais: So I was better than nothing (laughs)
Ben Stiller: Yes but it was almost too much, when Ricky Gervais shows up when you’ve been acting with no one it’s too much. We laughed a lot though.
Ricky Gervais: My part was just me trying to put Ben off, I got crazier in this one, I went into the 1st movie a bit blind, I didn’t know how it was gonna be, but then when I saw the finished product I got it, just go crazy, so when I went over for the 2nd I went madder and madder, it got to the point where Ben had to stop laughing and tell me it was ridiculous. Which is the nicest thing anyone’s said to me.
Ben Stiller: He went off on a crazy tangent what my character was like then he went into a weird cowboy character, it was so far from reality, there was no motivation for it (laughs) I had to say something. It was always exciting working with these guys. Hank and I have been friends for a long time. Sitting around on set with these people like Steve Coogan and Christopher Guest, we all look up to him and he’s such a sweet guy, I still can’t believe he’s in the movie.
Ricky Gervais: No off switch, it’s a machine and I met the monkey.
Hank Azaria: The monkey packs a wallop. I know Ben’s tired of it.
Ben Stiller: I’m beyond tired I resent her now. The slapping scene is not the most exciting day of the shoot for me, it’s one monkey playing to parts.
Ricky Gervais: With the trousers I only worked with Ben and the monkey so I never got to see them. I haven’t even seen the film, its brilliant though(laughs) I only read my bit in the script.
Hank Azaria: I told her about my distraction with the trousers, I said something really clever like nice pants, they really hug you from behind.
If the 3 of you had to steal something from any museum in the world what would it be?
Ben Stiller: Something valuable
Hank Azaria: Yeah I’d find out what was the most expensive thing.
Ricky Gervais: I’m into evolution so I’d probably take Lucy the first hominid.
Ben Stiller: I just went to Egypt and saw King Tut that was great I’d take that.
Hank Azaria: I’d take the Hope Diamond because it expensive
What did you guys think of the waxworks and would you ever want to get one of yourselves?
Ricky Gervais: I’ve been asked to do a couple things like that, one was for chocolate but I didn’t want to sit there for three hours, if they can do it from a photo their welcome (laughs). There a bit creepy though
Ben Stiller: Yeah they are quite creepy
Ricky Gervais: The best ones I’ve ever seen are in this film, the eyes looked real, they were amazing.
Ben Stiller: The one of Hank I had to email the picture to him because it looked exactly like him it was full sized as well. It was weird.
Hank Azaria: I was creeped out by them.
If you could make any inanimate object come to life what would it be?
Hank Azaria: I’d like for my car to come alive, we could scheme up some adventures together.
Ricky Gervais: Is it the car or do you want to be like David Hasslehoff?
Ben Stiller: I’d like to make David Hasslehoff come alive (laughs)
Hank Azaria: That’s your answer David Hasslehoff!
A few months ago I caught up with a very humble and barmy Gerard Butler for a quick and very random interview. Gerard Butler is best known as the Spartan King Leonidas in 300 which had the classic line THIS IS SPARTAAAAAAAAA!!!
When I spoke to Idris Elba he said you were very naughty on the Rocknrolla set what was that about?
Gerard Butler: I’m a naughty guy, I’m a naughty boy and to be honest most of these guys are pretty naughty. I can’t remember what things I done naughty though! But with me, Idris(Mumbles) and Tom(Handsome Bob) we were the Wild Bunch, they weren’t gonna cast pansies it was a bunch of naughty boys. It’s funny it’s like with them little bad babies, it’s not like they’re even trying, they just are, they can’t help not to get into the shit or fall into the toilet. Particularly Idris he loves to shove his own fist up his ass, it’s a party piece of his(laughs).
The Wild Bunch were the most relatable characters in the film for me
Gerard Butler: Yeah definitely, their the characters you can most likely see yourself in, their not the outstanding gangsters, the billionaire Russians, the junkies, their kind of just the regular guys who have fallen on the other side of the criminal line and in some ways if you fell into that you could become the same person. I can see myself in all of them, I think that’s why it was fun. 1 it was written that way, 2 you kind of knew you could take that to other levels, it’s funnier because their more regular guys, it’s funny with the situation they’re in. I think they are charming in a mad way.
What was it like working with Guy Ritchie?
Gerard Butler: It was a really fun movie set. It was a great script and a great cast. I had always heard that Guy was a wanker but he wasn’t at all (laughs) I’m joking! He was lovely though he ran a tight ship. His 5 4 3 2 1 way of counting down to filming was great, it’s a very effective way cutting down filming time but we had a great time.
You seem to be stripping of in all your movies with 300 and P.S I Love what’s that about?
Gerard Butler: (Laughs) Trust me if I could leave my clothes on in a movie I’d rather do that any time, but if I’m gonna get undressed I’m gonna do it as well as I can(Laughs). Whenever I hear people say that’s sexy for the few people that say that I think are you insane!
What was the roll that cracked it for you?
Gerard Butler: It depends you know, in terms of in the business with people saying that that guy can act it was in Dear Frankie, it didn’t make a lot of money but it was the movie that if the directors watched it something positive would come out of it, The Phantom Of The Opera was another one it didn’t do that well financially. But if you mean REALLY cracking it would have to be 300. I think there’s something to be said for sticking to your guns and doing what you believe in, because that will become the most effecting, I remember when I was doing Dear Frankie I thought the movie was a beautiful movie, I didn’t care it didn’t do well, I think it’s sad it got lost in the haze of marketing. But then again I made Dracula 2000 (laughs) and with that Joel Schumacher saw me in that and said I wanna work with that guy one time, from that came the Phantom Of The Opera so it show’s if you do shit that might even work out (laughs).
You grew up in Glasgow and lived in London are cities the same all over, do they have this sort of culture?
Gerard Butler: I think there’s a lot of similarities between Glasgow and London, there’s a lot of the same sort of characters they just have different accents, I think with every city and society they have similar echelons of that society middle class, working class, criminals from what I’ve seen.
What do you miss most about Scotland living in the states?
Gerard Butler: Two things mainly, 1 the people and 2 the countryside. It’s such a beautiful country. It’s therapy when I go back. Everything relaxes, the people and the humour when you experience that. I was with a friend from Scotland in New York and my sides were splitting just the way he was saying things I thought I was gonna literally piss myself listening to him, I miss that about Scotland the sense of humour and sharpness that you share with your buddy’s .
Gamer is in cinemas in the UK 18th September and is out now in the US
500 Days Of Summer is a story of boy meets girl, begins the wry, probing narrator of (500) Days of Summer, and with that the film takes off at breakneck speed into a funny, true-to-life and unique dissection of the unruly and unpredictable year-and-a-half of one young man’s no-holds-barred love affair.
Tom, the boy, still believes, even in this cynical modern world, in the notion of a transforming, cosmically destined, lightning-strikes-once kind of love. Summer, the girl, doesn’t. Not at all. But that doesn’t stop Tom from going after her, again and again, like a modern Don Quixote, with all his might and courage. Suddenly, Tom is in love not just with a lovely, witty, intelligent woman – not that he minds any of that — but with the very idea of Summer, the very idea of a love that still has the power to shock the heart and stop the world.
To be honest I have never been a fan of romantic comedies, along with skinny jeans, emo’s and the BNP they are one of my most hated things in the world, yet after watching the film I have to say (500) Days Of Summer is one of the best films I`ve seen this year, it is a very original and unconventional romantic comedy that men can actually appreciate. I recently caught up with the Director Marc Webb, belows what happened!
Its very rare to have a romantic comedy men actually like and one from a guys point if view
Marc Webb: (Laughs) Thanks, to me it was less about the guys point of view, it was more of a persons point of view, a lot of times with these sort of films they show both points of view. It was more of his naïve approach to love, maybe its not as sophisticated as it should be and there’s a consequence to that, that’s what I identified with, there was a time in my life, when I was very much in his shoes (laughs)
Would you say he was more naïve than innocent?
Marc Webb: Both I’d say, he bears some culpability I think that there’s a selfishness he approaches love with, but its so identifiable, we’ve all been there, I can symphonise.
I think that’s why a lot of guys seem to be relating to it, how important was it to get someone like Joey for the part because he is perfect?
Marc Webb: I met with a lot of actors, but he was the first one to get underneath it, the first time I met him, he asked why am I making this movie, and nobody had asked me that question before, I thought that’s a simple stupidly obvious question that’s great. We had a really good discussion that most of the films involved in romance have false hopes of love, especially for guys, who are often the sub plot, like with Hitch for example, there’s some really interesting things Will Smith is saying in the film and his charisma carries it, but the message if you wax your back and you learn to dance your gonna marry a super model, is fucking bullshit (laughs) its very reductive and hurtful, its very seductive to look like that but it’s false, so we wanted to play with a character that thought them sort of things and we had to subvert those things but without being cynical.
The films very honest.
Marc Webb: Yeah but I do know people who have actually found their girlfriend in High School when they were 17, I can think of three examples, they probably wouldn’t get the film so much. It probably wasn’t as emotionally resonate with them. But god bless them if their that lucky (laughs)
The chemistry was very strong between Zooey and Joeseph how did you know they would hit it off so well?
Marc Webb: I wasn’t a hundred percent sure they would be great, we didn’t read them together, but I had seen them in Manic together, I met Joey and we were talking about who should play Summer, he said a couple people then he had a look in his eye and said Zooey, she’s got this energy, I knew through the look in his eye I could hang the movie on that. He got depressed though and said nobody will make a film with just us two because we’re not big enough stars, but one of the benefits of doing a film with such a small budget is that you don’t have to stuff a star into it. They’ve known each other and they respect each other which was so important, the engine of these sort of movies is the characters chemistry. They are great actors, Joey uses his physicality so well, we took away lines from the film while editing just because his body said all that needed to be said
(500) Days Of Summer is very unconventional, you know people love to categorise everything, how would you categorise it?
Marc Webb: The best way of categorising it is as a coming of age story masquerading as a romantic comedy, a love story implies certain things we wanted to side step. The same piece of information can look very different to someone else, like in The Graduate.
Was The Graduate one of the inspirations?
Marc Webb: Yeah its one of them movies that when I watched it with my Dad as a kid, I suddenly sensed something deeper going on relative to the cartoons I was watching, there was something powerful that at the time I didn’t understand, there’s was something going on underneath it. Another thing with The Graduate in that it was like a cousin to our film was that it was from Benjamin Braddocks (Dustin Hoffman) point of view, there’s shots looking from his eyes, Mike Nichols put the audience in his shoes, which is what we tried to do with Tom, we wanted the audience to exclusively see it from his point of view
I haven’t seen much movies like yours and The Graduate that have seen things from a male point of view?
Marc Webb: There’s been a couple, High Fidelity done it, there’s been a couple, we definitely looked at films that came from a lone perspective, a weird reference we used was Children Of Men, which I think was a brilliant movie, Alfonso Cuaron (The Director) almost put a tether on the camera and attached it to Clive Owen, like with the scene that Michael Caine is getting shot ,your very restricted because you see it from Clive Owens point of view, you want to reach out and stop it, any other Director would have put the camera under Michael Caine and done a slow motion shot (laughs) but he never, you have a very powerful connection with that character because of that, I remember watching that film while we were developing the script, it was textbook in point of view filming, which is a really powerful code. So many questions you have before shooting the movie, where’s the camera gonna be, how am I gonna do it, if you have some code it really helps to unlock them problems.
With the soundtrack did you always have the songs in mind?
Marc Webb: Yeah that was key, we were very careful, it allowed us to architecture everything, it was great because the music and some of the lines in the songs we used said things we couldn’t say dialogue wise, we tried to have the lyrics comment on the scene, you can say something explicitly through lyrics with melody that you can only say contextually in the scene, in the Ikea scene, The Doves sing, There Goes The Fear, it fits perfectly, if Joe said the lyrics it would sound stupid (laughs). You can do it with melody and it fits, we wanted the lyrics to comment on it.
What have you got lined up next?
Marc Webb: Nothings in cement at the moment but the guys who wrote this are adapting a novel called Spectacular Now which we are working on, that hopefully will happen, theres a bunch of stuff in the hopper.
(500) Days Of Summer is in cinemas now!
Words: Matthew Power
I recently caught up with two of the best young British actors in Riz Ahmed and Daniel Mays while they were promoting the DVD release of Shifty, the debut feature film from writer/director Eran Creevy and one of my favourite films of the year.
Riz Ahmed (Britz, Dead Set) takes the title role of Shifty, a thriller charting an action packed 24 hours in the life of a young crack cocaine dealer on the outskirts of London. The sudden return home of his best friend sets in motion a chain of events that see Shiftys life quickly spiral out of control. Stalked by a customer desperate to score at all costs, and with his family about to turn their back on him for good, Shifty must out-run and out-smart a rival drug dealer intent on setting him up. As his long time friend Chris, played by Daniel Mays (The Bank Job, Plus One), confronts the dark past he left behind him, Shifty is forced to face up to the violent future he’s heading fast towards.
Pyroradio.com: How’s you doing guys?
Riz Ahmed: Yeah not bad,
Daniel Mayes: Doing good mate.
Pyroradio.com: The film only took just over two weeks to film, what was the highlight for you making it?
Daniel Mays: The wrap party was quite good (laughs)
Riz Ahmed: Getting to the end of it (laughs), nah there were a lot of moments really, the film set was full of jokes. Because there was no budget on the film, we had to shoot it in such a rush. Normally on a film you shoot two pages of script a day, in this we were shooting like eight or ten pages a day. There was such a high energy, but everyone was still cracking jokes, there were a lot of good moments. I think when one of the UK’s most established elder actresses Francesca Annis had to start hitting a crack pipe, that was a good moment (laughs). I just wanted to pull out my camera phone.
Daniel Mays: That was good day. The whole experience was phenomenal from start to end, I thoroughly enjoyed working with Riz. We’ve got a great new talent with our writer/director Eran Creevy. Everyone done a tremendous job. It surpassed all expectations with the response it’s been getting we’re very proud.
Pyroradio.com: One of the key things that worked well for me was how your characters linked together, did you have to work on that?
Daniel Mays: We can’t actually stand each other.
Pyroradio.com: It was just amazing acting?
Daniel Mays: (laughs) Yeah yeah that’s what it was. It just felt very natural you know, we were very lucky because we had a tremendous script to work with, if you’ve got a great script that’s half the battle, you just have to get into it and give it your best.
Riz Ahmed: Also Danny and Eran are two of the funniest people I’ve ever met. It was non stop banter and jokes, that’s gonna put you at ease, so when action is said it’s not a big tense set, everything flows more naturally.
Pyroradio.com: The movie is very relatable as well, especially to people who grew up in an inner city area. Is there anything you want people to take away from the film?
Daniel Mays: I don’t think the film is necessarily a message movie, it obviously shows the effects of drug use, addiction and everything else, it would be wrong to just describe it as a gritty social realism film, there is that but there’s some tremendous one liners and banter and I find it very funny, that level of humour all be it dark humour runs all the way through the film.
Riz Ahmed: It’s definitely not preachy, it’s a combination, its enjoyable, funny, very realistic, it’s got some darker elements, but I don’t think audiences have seen a film like this before, not because it’s got mad CGI effects and explosions but just because it feels realistic.
Daniel Mays: They did have some CGI explosions but when they looked at it back they realised it didn’t work, so they took it out, which is unfortunate.
Riz Ahmed: Yeah the whole budget went on that (laughs)
Pyroradio.com: The DVD came out on Monday, but for your own DVD collection what are the key things that stand out for you?
Daniel Mays: That’s a good question, I’d say probably the Godfather trilogy, that’s right up there for me, along with Raging Bull
Riz Ahmed: I’d say a for me ummmmm. There was a DVD I borrowed of someone and deliberately never gave it back which was a film called Dead Mans Shoes by Shane Meadows, a lot of people compare this film to a Shane Meadows film in terms that it’s a cool British thriller, it stars
Paddy Considine, its raw.Pyroradio.com: I know both of you have got a lot of good projects coming up can you tell the people what you’ve got coming?
Daniel Mays: I’ve got Nick Love’s remake of The Firm, we’ve remade that, I think it’s coming out the 19th of September, which we’re really pleased with, it’s not for the faint hearted. I’ve got that, the new Nanny McPhee film and another film called We Want Sex. Those two are coming next year.
Riz Ahmed: You couldn’t get three more different films (laughs). I’ve just done a Roman action movie with Noel Clarke called Centurion, which willl be out next year, I’ve always just wrapped on quite a controversial comedy film, I’m not allowed to say anything about, it’s written and directed by a comedy legend and I’m also just putting the music together as well, I’ll be previewing the album at the end of November at Sadler’s Wells Theatre its on the Riz MC Facebook and Myspace page.
Pyroradio.com: You both got any last words?
Riz Ahmed: You need to watch this film (laughs) it’s so shameless but you do.
Daniel Mays: Treat yourself (laughs). In all seriousness we’re so proud of it I just think it’s a cracking little number
Riz Ahmed: I think a lot of people would be inspired by it, it was made against the odds with the budget and time. I think it can inspire a bunch of upcoming film makers.
Shifty is out on DVD now!
Words: Matthew Power