YEAH, I’M IN A FILM WITH ROBERT DE NIROâ€¦
You know, so what if I’m not actually in any scenes with him and will have no contact with him whatsoever at any point plus the fact that he hasn’t been in a good film for 70 years; he’s still Bobby de Niro and he’s still a wonderful persjuan and a very good actor!
A couple of weeks ago I got a call from my agent saying would I like to go and meet Matthew Vaughan with a view to taking a small part in the film Stardust, an adaptation of the Neil Gaiman novel of the same name that he’s been directing over the last few months. I cycled at top speed into the West End to meet the model loving, gangster film impresario and did my best to ingratiate myself. It turned out that lovely Noel Fielding from The Mighty Boosh was lined up to play one of seven ghosts in the film but had to pull out due to a spot of ill health so in the spirit of sheer last minute desperation they turned to me! The other ghosts include many of contemporary comedy’s leading lights: David Walliams, Mark Heap and Julian Rhind-Tutt as well as Vaughan regular Jason Flemyng, Mark Strong and the legendary Rupert Everett so I was going to be in good company and was keen not to fuck up the interview with Matthew Vaughan who was very pleasant. Perhaps if he’d seen the parody we did of Snatch on the 4th series of The Adam & Joe Show I might not have got the call so it’s just as well. Right the way through our brief conversation I kept thinking ‘I could lose this gig instantly if I just said ‘say hello to Claudia Schiffer!’ as I was leaving, but I managed to stop myself and I went home hired. A wonderful feeling always.
So far I’ve done 4 days on the film (all on a green screen stage at Pinewood) including a day of make up tests and rehearsals. I have one more day tomorrow and it’s been fantastic fun. At first I was very nervous because I was aware of being an unknown and less celebrated quantity than the others. If Noel had been able to do the part they would have had four comedians featured in this weekend’s ‘definitive’ overview of the best in comedy in the Guardian magazine, and now they’ve got three heavy hitters and one wonky footnote. I was worried that Walliams especially was going to act all ‘what’s he doing here?’ when I showed up but of course he was incredibly friendly and supportive as always and I was ashamed that I had even been concerned.
The scariest ghost for me was Rupert Everett who, like Dave Walliams and Julian Rhind Tutt was having to do his scenes under 5 hours worth of prosthetics to achieve the look of a man who had just died a grisly death. Subsequently, by the time he arrived on set at 9am (having been picked up at about 4:30am) was if not grumpy, not primed for significant laughs. Matthew Vaughan had told us he was up for improvising a few lines around the existing script (which had worked well when Ricky Gervais had been shooting scenes with De Niro(!)) but when Dave and I started to throw a couple of minor improvisation shapes, Rupert stayed silent until we had stopped then said witheringly â€œwell that was brilliantly funnyâ€¦â€ That shut me up for a while though Dave to his credit said â€œyeah, that’s really getting into the spirit of improv! Cut us down as soon as we try something!â€ which Rupert laughed at. At least I think I think he was laughing. I swear, beneath the make up it was not easy to tell. When you see the film you’ll know what I mean.
Anyway, the last couple of days, despite clearly still finding the experience difficult Rupert has mellowed and all the ghosts have got on very well I think. Myself, Jason Flemyng, Mark Heap and Mark Strong have escaped without seriously crippling make up so we’ve probably had the best time comfort wise, but I’ve enjoyed being around all of the others immensely and I’m going to miss it when it’s over. As far as my performance goes I haven’t had much to do so I haven’t shown myself up too badly I hope, though one of Rupert’s other slightly grumpy comments after one rehearsal was ‘I think this is in danger of turning into an episode of Gimme Gimme Gimme’ so he may beg to differ.
I wonder if Matthew Vaughan would ever use me again? Below is our take on Guy Ritchie’s Snatch while he’s making up his mind. Rather than trying to approximate the narrative labyrinth of Snatch in 3 minutes we framed the thing as an episode of the wonderful film show Scene By Scene in which presenter Mark Cousins would talk in ludicrous depth to movie behemoths such as Woody Allen, Sean Connery and Roman Polanski with reference to specific scenes from their films. Well worth tracking down if you never saw them, especially the one with Polanski who was a hilariously miserable old cunt and clearly hated Cousins from the get go. The book of the show is apparently excellent too. More movie news in the next few weeksâ€¦!