Friday, 13 May 2011

Attack The Blog - Day 4: The Incredible Suit's Big Press Junket Adventure!

Last week I attended an Attack The Block press junket. It was the first time I'd done anything like this, which meant that I was the most excitable person there, surrounded by battle-hardened, cynical, "proper" journalists with dictaphones and everything. I had to use the microphone on my mp3 player, which isn't an iPod or iPhone or iAnything and therefore stuck out like a sore todger.

I was there to interview actors Luke Treadaway, Jodie Whittaker, John Boyega, Simon Howard, Franz Drameh, Leeon Jones, Alex Esmail and Nick Frost, as well as director man Joe Cornish, although most of the day was spent waiting in the press equivalent of a dentist's waiting room in a ludicrously fancy hotel deciding whether to go for "gently sparkling" or "delightfully still" water. I went for "delightfully still", but I couldn't really say that its stillness was any more or less delightful than that of a lower class of hotel water.
But enough of this contextualising backstory. What did the talent have to say? Well, quite a lot as it happens, because my interviews with them were of the "round table" variety, where a bunch of journalists fire questions in turn. What this boils down to is that a) everyone walks away with the same interview, and b) I only got to ask each person a couple of questions. If you want every answer to every question that was asked, they're all out there somewhere, but I haven't got room to steal everyone else's Qs and As so here are the tiny fragments of the day that are 100% pure The Incredible Suit.


First off were actors Luke Treadaway and Jodie Whittaker. Luke is terribly handsome and has excellent chest hair; Jodie is equally attractive but I was unable to gauge how hirsute her chesticles were. Probably for the best.

Luke, Joe based your character on his own experiences as a twenty-something posh kid buying drugs from a dealer in a tower block. How did you research playing a young Joe Cornish?
It was touched upon when we first talked about the part that Joe had gone to a tower block to procure the odd jazz cigarette in his youth, so I was aware of that. Maybe bits of him did bleed into it a bit but but I never felt like I was trying to play a young Joe. I think that would have been odd and weird.

Jodie, how did the boys treat you? I’m guessing they thought you were like a cool older sister.
No, I was made to feel like a complete loser. In no way did they make me feel cool. They kept calling me Mrs Whittaker. You know, I'm 28, I'm not your art teacher. I'd be like, "d'you wanna listen to an Arcade Fire track?" and they were like, "no". They made me feel like an absolute sad cow. But it was affectionate.

Before I had time to question Jodie about her chest hair we were ushered out of the room and into another, which contained Alex Esmail, Franz Drameh, John Boyega, Simon Howard and Leeon Jones: the five young actors who play Attack the Block's leads. As we entered they were finishing a story about a woman who gave birth to a chicken which went sadly unexplained.

Nick Frost plays a kind of surrogate father figure to you guys. Was he like that off screen too? Did he take you to the pictures and buy you drugs and stuff?
John: Nick brought a playful energy to the set, he was more like an older brother. He was also good for hugs. He's like a big teddy bear.

Franz: He wasn’t around for long, he was there for like four weeks maybe, we were there for four months, but when he was on set he was a joy to work with, constantly cracking jokes and shouting randomness just before a take. You'd be two seconds away from doing your scene and he'd suddenly shout "ACTING!"

Simon, you spend quite a lot of time in a bin in this film. How did you feel about that when everyone else was getting a bit more action?
When I first found out that I was gonna be away from the gang I was actually sad, because it's like, they're my boys, man, I'm not with youse lot! But when I'm actually in the bin it's like I've got time by myself and I have to really smash it because it's in a closed environment and the pressure's on. But I'm good with it.

Is there one specific thing any of you learned that you'll carry through in your future career?
Franz: Don’t be afraid to a) improvise: if you wanna quickly riff something you might as well do it ‘cause if it's too much or they don't like it they'll just cut it. But if they do, then you'd feel like an idiot if you didn't do it before; and b), if you've got any questions, just ask. Don't be scared to look dumb.

John: For me, just to remember to just do your job and play another person. You can't just play yourself. Create another character.

Simon: Yeah, obviously you won't always be getting the same role, so your mind's got to be set into taking other people's roles, even if it's playing someone who's a geeky person in an ICT lab, a madman, anyone.

Leeon and Alex didn't say much. They must have been in awe at being in the same room as The Incredible Suit. Right?

Next we were introduced to Nick Frost, who plays drug dealing slacker Ron. He and I immediately bonded over my The Karate Kid t-shirt, which Nick also owns "in a massively different size". And when I say "immediately bonded over" I mean "exchanged ten words about".

Did you and Joe work out a back story for Ron?
We did. Ron just wants an easy life. I think he’d spent some time in the military and just hated it, or he got injured or it just wasn't for him, and then he bummed around a bit and lived in India for a while, psychedelics, brain leaks, you know, and then lost love - you see he's got a tiny little ring on his chain, and you imagine that was a girl that he loved and it didn't work out.

That's sad.
It is sad, and as an actor that helps with the other side to Ron, which is he's getting kids to deal weed for him. There's also a bum bag in there which was full of stuff. It had lighters in it and secateurs and little bits and pieces, little ties for the plants and stuff. They let you muck about a bit and go a bit crazy with character minutiae.

Slightly off-topic, what's your favourite colour?
Oh, shit.

Yeah, probably shit. No, my heart wants to say black, but...

Bit obvious, isn't it?
Yeah, but blue's even more obvious, isn't it? If I ever see a sports car in the street and it's bright yellow, I always want it. So let's say bright yellow.

With that Pulitzer-troubling question in the bag, we then had to wait yonks for Joe Cornish to arrive. As a result I spent a long time looking at this sofa:
When he finally arrived I only got to ask him one question, the answer to which you can find seamlessly slotted into tomorrow's slightly more exclusive interview which I did with him shortly afterwards. As a result my presence there was somewhat superfluous: in fact it might have been better if I hadn't been there at all as, while answering someone else's question about which character in the script most resembled him, Joe took the opportunity to reveal one of my darkest secrets to a room full of journalists:

But enough about my smack habit. Come back tomorrow to find out, amongst other things, which three words Joe Cornish chose to use when I asked him to review You Only Live Twice for BlogalongaBond!


  1. Joe Cornish may have judged 'You Only Live Twice' as "The Quantum of Silliness".

    I may be wrong about Joe Cornish but I am a little more certain that when you were looking at the empty cushion where Joe would soon sit, you were thinking "Sofa so good."

    The Incredible Suit has served up original journalism in spades this week. Brilliant writing. The challenge now is to keep this standard coming right through to 2012 and beyond.

  2. Cornish is on a mission to defame you! Accusations of drug-abuse here, allegations of being "gentle and nervous" in tomorrow's interview (which I read today. Today being tomorrow. Yesterday should've been today, but Blogger was broke, I suppose), it's a smear campaign!

  3. that my elbow in that sofa shot? Where's *my* comedy white writing and arrow?