Five Minutes With - Stephen Graham

Stephen Graham

Stephen Graham

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HOW DID YOU GET INVOLVED WITH NEW MOVIE HYENA?

I got sent the script from a casting director, Des Hamilton. It was about three years ago that he first sent me it, and then I watched [director] Gerard Johnson’s first film, Tony: Portrait Of A London Serial Killer, which I thought was fantastic. It left me a bit shell-shocked because it documentary style but brutal, and a fantastic character study. Des said: ‘I’d really like you to play this role; he’s written it with you in mind’, which I didn’t know was a compliment. The script was fantastic and it was something I really wanted to be a part of; it’s a great ensemble piece as well as a standout performance from Peter Ferdinando. There’s some great roles for women. It was just a pleasure to be a part of. It’s a proper, real, true gritty British film, which pulls no punches.

WHAT RESEARCH DID YOU DO TO PLAY DETECTIVE DAVID KNIGHT?

A lot of police research. I got a lot of information from Gerard and me and Peter went through a back story we had for our characters. We wanted him to be a character like... you know these people who you think are your friends and then all of a sudden they’ll stab you in the back? These kind of people that really want to climb that slippery pole of success and do anything to get to the top no matter who they stand on.

DO YOU USE AN ITEM OF CLOTHING OR PROP TO GET INTO A CHARACTER?

What I like to do is find the shoes for the character and then sort of embody the physicality and stuff. Years ago I got these brown, suede Gucci loafers. I bought them in a pub and took then home and my wife Hannah went: ‘What the hell are they?’ I said: ‘They’re great; they’re Guccis.’ She said: ‘I don’t care what they are; they’re disgusting!’ I left them at the bottom of the wardrobe and I knew they’d come in handy some day, so when I was playing this part, I thought, ‘I know exactly what I’ll use; I’ll use them shoes’. So that’s what I did, and it was a way into the character.

WAS IT THE WILLY RUSSELL PLAY OUR DAY OUT THAT GAVE YOU A TASTE FOR ACTING?

I suppose it was. It was also when I was at school and we did Treasure Island. That was the first thing I’d ever been in, so that’s where I got the desire to be an actor. I just never really thought of doing anything else ever since that moment. Thankfully it worked out.

AFTER MAKING GET SANTA DO YOU FANCY DOING MORE COMEDY?

Yeah, I’d love to. I’ve just finished This Is England 90, and it was all very emotional and very powerful, tears coming down my face, and I turned round to [director] Shane [Meadows] and I went: ‘I can do comedy you know!’ And we just burst out laughing. He said: ‘Yeah. I know. I’d love to do a comedy with you’, so fingers crossed I’d like to do a bit more comedy.

WHAT’S HAPPENING WITH YOUR PERSONAL PROJECT, THE CAMEO CONSPIRACY?

It looked like the money had been raised and then, for some reason, the production company that were involved... they’d raised some funds but then they had to drop out, but the script’s still being developed, so there’s still a possibility of it working.

WHAT ARE YOU WORKING ON NEXT?

I’m going to do Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, and I’ll be there for a while; that’s in Australia so I’ll be away for a little bit. There’s a couple of things in America that people want meetings for, and then a couple of little independent things over here, so hopefully just keep doing the same thing I’m doing.

CAREERWISE, WHERE AND WHEN WERE YOU HAPPIEST AND WHY?

Today really, because of everything I’ve done. I’m very lucky. I’ve got a beautiful wife and two gorgeous kids. Hopefully I’ll be able to do the calibre of work I’ve done in the past... in the future.