Interview with Inbetweeners 2 stars, Simon Bird and Joe Thomas
The lads were in New Zealand for the premiere of their Australia set movie and took some time to chat about the end of it all, what's next for them both and to share some of their stories about how they treated director Iain Morris...
You've been in the roles now of Will and Simon since 2008, has it been fun - and is it still fun after nearly 7 years?
Simon Bird - Well, yeah, but it's coming to an end, is the sad thing. Yeah, we did say it last time, but every time we've said we meant it, it wasn't like a line. We genuinely didn't realise the first film would be such a massive hit and we thought that fans of the show would see it, but not that it would be this kind of monster blockbuster success.
Joe Thomas -Even after that we were a bit reluctant to follow it up.
SB - We didn't want to ruin the first film's legacy, we only wanted to do it if we thought we could top it. We did this second one as a bonus, a thank you to the fans but we knew going into this it would be the end, because it's about characters who are at a certain age, and we can only do that for so long - I think it's come to its natural conclusion
Are you worried about being stereotyped in those kinds of roles?
JT - The answer is yes, but the typecasting thing, what I think about it is is that it's about actors not wanting to be typecast. I don't have a problem playing to my strengths and I'd rather do something that audiences like and I'd rather be in things that are successful and I wouldn't take a role that was different just to prove a point. I like comedy and funny stuff. Sometimes, you're funny in a different way and it's hard to do that but I do hope I get some work...
You're being modest, as you've both had TV shows like Fresh Meat and Chickens as well...
JT - Yeah, true. Fresh Meat was lovely to work on, it's about going where the good writing is. And Sam (Bain) and Jesse (Armstrong) are amazing. They had an incredible track record with Peep Show and I thought this can't be bad, that was brilliant. Chickens was an immensely pleasurable thing to make - it was a privilege to work with Simon and we had just great people. We had Ben Palmer from the Inbetweeners to work on that and that was great fun.
What did you enjoy most about the shoot - I've heard you mercilessly teased director Iain Morris?
SB - Those were the best moments for us; the worst moments for him were the best moments for us. Definitely.
JT - We were incapable of taking the idea of them being directors seriously. Which is pathetic but they were basically like our playmates for the three series and the first film. They were on set constantly and they were there to make sure it was funny. I knew that I shouldn't have been finding it so funny that they were in charge, but I just couldn't help myself. We did used to take the mickey out of them a lot....
SB - It's important work and somebody had to do it.
JT - There was one day when Iain was really up against it to get a shot and we were doing a bit about trying to find a director who could get us out of this mess, asking the crew if anyone had got any mates in the industry. It ended up with us saying we were going to dig up a body from the graveyard and that could be the director... What was bad about that was that we were 2 feet away from Iain and he could hear this conversation, which must have been unbelievably aggravating as he was trying to have this serious discussion with the DoP. You are right - I am ashamed.
Did you always envisage the show would be this popular - three series and 2 movies..
SB - No, we didn't think it would get recommissioned. When we were making the first series, for a new channel in Britain, with writers who'd never written before and we'd never done any acting before so it was an experiment, but we thought that would be it. I had no concept of the show being as popular as it was and it's sort of grown at every stage. For us to be in New Zealand promoting the sequel to our number one movie is, erm, flabberghasting.
JT - When we did the first series, I thought my fellow actors were very funny but I thought there must be more to it than that and obviously, weirdly that seemed like reasons we may fail - we're not a professional outfit, we're just some people. We are friends, we do have a rapport that is similar to the characters. It's about how basically groups of lads are trying to get laughs off each other; there's something incredibly sweet about that but they need that recognition from the others that they are funny and it's also sweet they're constantly having the piss taken out by each other that they just accept it if it's funny. That's the nice element of male friendship, that's funny and people get over things. There's emotion there underneath but it's never acknowledged or brought out into the light.
There's a high level of humiliation and gross out this time around - particularly for your two characters - did you push for more or less during it?
SB - The moments that are most embarrassing for a character are not necessarily that embarrassing for us to do; I think quite the opposite as we're always excited to read the scripts and see those moments because they're the ones that are memorable and people will find the most funny. It's better that we push for them, not just so we want gross out moments for gross out sake but because it's also a strength of Iain and Damon's. Only they could have pulled off having a poo going down the water slide moment in quite the way they did.
JT - My favourite bit of the film is where the poo flies in his face. There's a sort of Jaws moment; it's almost like a kind of drawing on a King Kong style moment where Will is like "I'm a human but you're running from me". The OST there I really like and I can see a poo going in your face in lots of films but it's the aftermath of Will being "Please" and seeing this lonely beast with a glint of humanity in his eyes - I can only see them doing that. That's a testament to them having an acute sense of what's funny.
SB - There's a certain warmth and sweetness for the characters and a bleakness that's definitely there.
What's next professionally for you both?
JT - Don't know to be honest, I'm writing a couple of things and they're both at the fairly early stage but I'm hoping that they'll go somewhere. I'm not in a mad rush. I feel that this has been a really lucky thing to have been involved in and it's put me in a really good position but I want to keep working with good talented people and like Fresh Meat and follow really good writing and just try and surround myself with talent so I've got a chance of being in something good, but there's nothing yet - my next major project, I don't know is the truth.
SB - Ditto. None of us have got anything lined up but that's what's great about the Inbetweeners - this gives us a year to sit back and re-calibrate.
The Inbetweeners 2 hits New Zealand cinemas on August 28th.