This is a very long interview. But it’s also great. Because it’s with Misfit ’s Joe Gilgun (Rudy) who is up there in the Premier League of Most Quotable People Ever Interviewed by SFX , jostling with Joss Whedon and Tom Baker for the top spot.
This time he’s talking about Lockout (released in the UK next Friday) the new sci-fi thriller co-written and produced by Luc ( The Fifth Element ) Besson. Well, he talks about it some of the time when we can keep him on track. He plays bad guy Hydell, who, despite the orange jumpsuit and tattoos isn’t much like Rudy at all.
SFX was just told to “ring this number”. We did, and what immediately followed wasn’t quite what we were expecting. But it was so much fun, we thought we’d share the whole experience with you. Hell, you might even learn something about Lockout …
(But be warned: there is a LOT of foul language. But it’s such a part of the rhythm and flow of Joe’s way of speaking, starring it all out seemed somehow to destroy the gritty poetry of his meaning, so please excuse us just this once.)
Dave Golder: How are you?
Joe Gilgun: I’m fine. I’m out in the warm. I’ve moved out to the woods for seven days. It sounds worse than it is. I’ve got electricity but I’ve got no hot water and, as you can imagine, all the things that you usually do… in the bathroom… you do that behind a tree or bush and you end up with quite a chapped arse. But it’s been ace.
Why are you doing it?
I’m just living in the woods, fucking hell, you shouldn’t need a reason. I think it just clears me head to come out here. We’ve got a generator, you see. So I fill the generator and live rough for a few days and it sorts me out, having nothing and nobody around, and then I go home. It’s not like I want people to feel sorry for me. Quite the opposite, it’s fucking brilliant, fending for yourself for a bit.
Sounds quite cool. An adventure.
You work things out, in your head. For example – pot kettle black. I never really knew where that came from. I thought why would anyone buy a black kettle at all? And why would they get in an argument about who was blacker? I thought it were ridiculous. And I sat there was like “Ooooh! the fire does that! The fire makes them go black!” So yeah, shit like that, you think it because you’re left on your own for a long time. You think the maddest things.
I’d never thought about that before, either.
Get at it man! Get yourself a lot of food and a lot of beers or water, and go… whatever… and set yourself with some sort of fire arrangement. Obviously you need to be at t’woods, because you need wood, to make your fire, and cook your food and boil your kettle and things like that.
I think if I was doing it I wouldn’t take my phone with me so a journalist couldn’t suddenly ring me me up in the middle of it.
Tomorrow I’ve gotta go, and get my head back into work mode. This is a good thing because tomorrow, I’m shooting in Dublin. I don’t know if you’re even interested in this, but I’m shooting in a period drama thing, which is fucking so ace, I can’t even tell you, I’ve grown a moustache and everything. It’s epic, it’s grown over my lip and I can curl it. I look like Charles Bronson after a famine.
What period is it set in?
It’s set in the time of Jack the Ripper. It’s called Ripper Street , that’s all I can tell you. It’s a guest lead part so I’m bloody thrilled with it. It’s just such a bloody great job.
Mental. Yeah, but it’s great. It’s a great way to get me back in work mode. Tomorrow I’m flying back to Ireland and that’s always a stressful fucking ball-ache on planes. And so, yeah, it’s just getting me back into work mode, and get me back into Misfits after that.
We’re actually meant to be talking about Lockout . So, what can you tell us about Hydell?
He’s just a feral lad. He’s probably just mildly brain damaged, a complete fucking psychopath. He’s not very well, at all. He’s from Glasgow. Along with his brother. His brother sort of… he has a brother who has sort of looked after him. I think the only reason he is still alive is because of this brother. And without givin’ away too much… oh fuck it, how am I going to finish this now? I try to sound cool and then at the last minute think, no you can’t say that either because that will fucking give it away. He’s got a brother, that’s all you need to know. He’s got a brother and without that brother he would have definitely have died by now. And it just so happens that he’s got this brother looking after him because he’s mentally ill, and feral.
You’re in this prison, an orbiting prison, is that right?
That’s right yeah. Honestly man, it’s going to be the biggest romp. It’s truly a 50/50 thing. We shot it in Serbia, and I was out there for like three months. It’s the most mental country I’ve ever been in, in my life. It’s brilliant. Everybody’s got a gun and they’re all fully loaded. You can’t help but think you’re going to get shot. It’s a numbers game really of when am I going to get shot, out here in Serbia, because most of them have. Most of the lads I knew had been shot, or were going to get shot. So that was a mad place to film, it was fucking brilliant. It was a romp.
The idea is, it’s an orbiting prison in space, it’s just above the Earth’s atmosphere. It’s not too distant in the future, I don’t think. So it’s not too lasery and bloody, laser guns and all that shit. Same weapons; drink out of a bloody cup; life’s fucking hard. When you have a crap, you do it into, like, water… it’s not vaporised and thrown out… and I don’t know where I’m going with that bit. You get the idea. The directors wanted it to have an old ’90s style to it. And they’ve got that. As a result it was frigging brilliant. Obviously, your actors of the ’90s, your Kev Costners and your, frigging, who else did we have, come on give me one, I’ve fucking gone dry…
Er… Kurt Russell?
Kurt Russell! What a banger. But yeah, basically that’s what it is. It’s a prison set in space, you know. They wake up Hydell from sedation or whatever they call it to interview him because he’s got a record, and he fucking breaks out. He’s opportunistic, he’s a guy who doesn’t die. He just doesn’t fucking die. Royally hard bastard. Totally unlike me. I play all these hard bastards and I’m a bit of a… I like peace in the woods, where there’s wrestling bears and shit.
I hope my Glasgow accent goes down alright, because there was no… you’d think being a big film like that there’d be a bloody linguist or something.
A voice coach?
Yeah, a voice coach. There was none of that; they just trusted us. We just went for it. So actually, I could have been doing voices from all around Scotland. That’s the shooting style of James and Steven – “Let’s just go with it!” I like that way of shooting, going in balls deep and hope for the fucking best.
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Give us a taste
[Puts on a rather good Glaswegian accent...] What speak like that through the whole thing.
[In accent] Convince you? I’ll fucking convince you.
I’m a little bit scared now.
Don’t be ridiculous, I was joking the whole time. This new guy I’m playing, he’s Scouse. And he [puts on Scouse accent] sounds like that. He’s got a mild lisp, have you noticed?
That’s some incredible acting.
Thank you very much. “That was incredible acting, you were acting very hard there. I could see it in your face, you were really acting your head off to perfect that lisp.”
No, it’s a compliment, thank you. That’s if you meant it and you weren’t being a massive twat.
I’m not a massive twat, I’m a nice guy.
You sound like one. You sound like such a lovely. Do you have kids?
No, I don’t... is that a problem?
Is that a problem? Yeah! [puts on posher English accent] “It’s outrageous! I want to speak to a man who has inspired and reared a British person! Go and find someone and get back to me. Ding. Next!”
I could adopt...
Oh, okay then.(opens in new tab)
You mentioned the two directors on Lockout . So how do two directors direct a film at the same time?
Well, they’re mates as well; they’re like a pair of brothers. I never really saw them get stressed with one another, to be honest with you. A lot of people asked me have you struggled getting it from both ends, but James tended to be more technical whereas Steven was, dare I say it, the organic end of it.
We were under a lot pressure and a lot of stress to get it finished and done in time. We didn’t have a big budget. It was Steven and James’ first film so, you know, they wanted it to go out with a blow, as it were. I was chatting to Steven, this is the kind of guys they are, I was on the phone to him because I’d not spoken to him in ages. So I rang up Steven and I can’t really remember the story – I do this all the fucking time! What was I about to tell you?
About the differences between James and Steven?
Oh yeah! So I go,“Have you seen James?” and he went, “Yeah, he’s gone to LA with his bird. I saw him before he went, though, and we were discussing what we were going to do if our film is a total flop.” You don’t tell the actors that, Jesus Christ Steven! That’s the kind of guy he is. He’s a good laugh, more of a friend than a director. Good guy though, all in all.
The film is pretty action packed. Did you get to do any stunts?
[Thoughtful] Do I get to do any stunts? Yeah, I do. I shot some people. And I do singing. I do a lot of singing... so I shoot people and do a lot of singing, more than anything. Nobody ever lays a hand on me because I’m slashy and weird.
What were you singing?
Umm, I ripped it off a film I watched ages ago which will go unnamed, see if people can work it out.
Calamity Jane ?
It is. You fucking twat! Unbelievable. Just when i thought I had you all by the nuts there. Nah, I nicked it off this film, because he’s Scottish I wanted him to be a rustic Scot, if you will. I sounded very middle class there. A rustic Scot. Who describes a Scot a rustic? I wanted to come across in that sort of a way, if you will. What was I on about? I was using the kettle there...
Singing! So I wanted something folky. Something old-fashioned sounding, if you will. So that’s why I chose to rip-off a particular… I didn’t actually steal the song! I just changed all the lyrics and the entire, the sort of melody if you will... [quickly] The Proposition , I nicked it off The Proposition !
It sounds like you had a whale of a time making this film. Was a sci-fi action film something you wanted to do?
Was it, fucking hell! As a British actor people ask you, “What’s next?” and you just think, “Whatever I’m fucking given.” This is Britain mate, you get what you’re given. And if you’re lucky enough to go to Serbia and given an action film, in the fucking middle of space, you better grab it by the bullocks and give it your frigging best. Which is what I’ve done. Get out there, and do the damned thing. And it was brilliant. It was the best fun ever. Christ I’ve burnt myself today. I look like a fucking lobster. I’ve got rings where my fatty like rolls have been... very British. I look very, very British.
Have you seen the finished film?
I have! This is a funny story... I had to have a tooth pulled out, late at night. I got this fucking terrible abscess. It came on late at night. I had to go to the hospital to have this tooth taken out. The day after that I was supposed to go bloody Paris and I’m on all this medication. I’m high as a fucking kite, man. I get a bit nervous with flying, so I had these diazepams and I took them because I get really panicky before I have to get on a fucking aeroplane. So by the time I got to Paris, I don’t even remember the flight, I just remember getting there. “Oh I’m here!”
I took a bit of really fancy gear to wear to this showing because I thought there were going to be a couple of people there the press or something… you never fucking know. But it was just the producers and they put me on a couch to watch the film. But they’d seen it a million times so they left me on my own for the second half! And there was me fucking dressed up!
Afterwards, they did a interview – for the DVD I think – so you’ll see how ridiculously overdressed I am for this interview. Collars like Laurence Llewellyn Bowen. I’m off my head, pissed as hell on all these different prescription drugs. And I thought, “While I’m here I better get really pissed as well.” I can’t even remember what even happened in the fucking film. I said to Marco, “Give us a copy.” [Puts on French accent] “Absolutely not!” “For goodness sake, I didn’t even see it properly!” [Puts on French accent] “It’s not happen. Not for you.” Because I am a shit and it’ll probably get leaked out, it’s not a good idea giving it to me.
Tell me where to go and I go there and I do the job, get into the character and do the fucking job. That’s what I’m prepared for. I’m crap at everything else…
You’re good at cooking in pots.
Yeah I am. I am good at that.
Did you meet Luc Besson as well?
No, I haven’t met Luc. Apparently he’s a really bloody lovely bloke and he’s into his motorbikes. He’s got a beautiful wife – that’s a bit risky ain’t it? – but he has. What else do I know about him? He’s got a lot of statues in his offices. His offices are stunning, incredible. Paris is a beautiful place.
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Obviously I’ve got to ask you about Misfits . When are you filming the new series?
We’re starting the new series… oh shit I just burnt myself. We start the new series soon. I’ve got this thing in Ireland to do then I’ve got a week off and then I start Misfits again. It’s a relentless regime with Misfits . I’m actually a little bit nervous of it, because I know it’s going to be so tough to film, but we have a good crack at it. Can’t really whinge. Yeah man, I’m properly looking forward to it this year and the storyline is always fucking hilarious. Howard is just a fricking genius.
Do you know anything about the scripts for next year yet?
Not bollocks. Literally, they don’t trust me. I don’t blame them neither. It’s a case of wait and see, really. I’m sure it’ll be disgusting and completely outrageous. And it’ll have an effect on the people that watch it.
Do you know anything about the new characters yet?
The new characters? No. I know nothing. I don’t know who’s playing them, I don’t know – oh fuck I’ve fallen down a ditch! I’m okay, I’m alright – I don’t know anything about them. I’ve no doubt they’ll be exceptional people. The casting people, they fucking cast me, you know what I fucking mean? They do know what they’re doing and they don’t want to fuck up and let the audience down because it’s got a massive following.(opens in new tab)
It must be extra hard for you because you have to play two people all the time?
Yeah, it’s a massive deal. Not just as far as playing two different characters would be, but logistically as well it is very difficult to do and film so it’s quite time-consuming. The other guy is a total bitch. It’s hard work being him for the day, being dark Rudy, because he’s just fucking little twat, isn’t he? In that sense me and Rudy agree, I guess. He gets on my nerves as well… I don’t like playing him as much as I do Rudy. Well, Rudy is better fun because he’s just ridiculous, isn’t he? They can do pretty much anything with him and it’ll work because he’s a twat. It’s that sort of a thing. Rudy’s easier, it makes my job easier. I’m a lazy actor.
I’m sure that’s not true.
Yeah it is... I might live in the woods, but I am a lazy actor.
[Reacting to some clattering] What have you been doing whilst this interview’s been taking place?
Well, what is going on is I’m packing up all the gear. I have to go back to Ireland tomorrow to film, so I have to be picked up from some sort of address. So I’m going to stay at my mam’s for the night.
That’s a marvellous piece of multi-tasking.
Thank you very much. It’s took some fucking doing, and I’m exhausted. I’ve drained every resource I had saved up for Ireland, that’s gone. They can expect nothing. I can’t even do the accent. There’ll be no continuity. I’ll do Scottish. I’ll do Hydell again! I’ll fucking tell them I got mixed up!