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The Comedy of Errors

Nick Frost is Heading to Nottingham for Em-Con

19 April 19 interview: Ashley Carter

Nick Frost has come a long way since the cult TV series Spaced; never quite as far as Nottingham, however. We caught up with the Hot Fuzz and Shaun of the Dead star to talk about how he plans to rectify that when he attends EM-Con Nottingham on May 4-5, and his latest film, Fighting with My Family.

You’re scheduled to appear at EM-Con Nottingham on May 4-5. What’s the best thing about getting the opportunity to meet fans face-to-face?
Everywhere I go, the fans are all the same. They love what I do and appreciate the effort I put in. They’re a happy bunch, which is nice. It would be awkward to have fans that hate you! You don’t really get a chance to go out and meet a lot of people, shake hands and say hello, so it’s a real treat to be able to do that.

Your TV and film projects tend to have large cult followings, is there one role in particular that you get recognised for that most?
At these kind of things, it’s Ed from Shaun of the Dead. A lot of people in this kind of genre bracket love Dr. Who too, so they remember me playing Father Christmas in the Christmas episode. Also, Paul was about two guys who go to Comic-Con to meet their favourite author so, as characters, that film was an homage to people who go to things like EM-Con.

In Paul, the character of Adam Shadowchild (played by Jeffrey Tambor) was pretty awful to his fans. Was that based on any of your own experiences?
I am a human being, and my fans are human beings, so I treat them how I would like to be treated. I’m very aware that young men and women have saved up money to come and have a photograph with me, so the least you can do is genuinely be nice. It’s not even put on, it’s a nice thing to have a body of work that has affected people so much that they’re willing to queue up and say ‘hello’ to you. Adam Shadowchild came from doing a Con about fifteen years ago. I’d never done one before, and I was next to a very famous American actor. I won’t say who it was, but he was so horrible, mean and moody. Every time someone shook his hand, he seemed really pissed off, and would pump his hand sanitizer in front of them. I just thought, “They’re paying £30 for your fucking signature – you’re an actor, the least you can do is act. Just pretend to give a shit.”

What would your dream line-up be if you were attending a Convention as a fan?
Definitely Sigourney Weaver, Robert Kirkman and… has Spielberg ever done any of these things? Seeing him go and talk about a movie would be amazing. I love sci-fi, so Steven Spielberg talking about Close Encounters of the Third Kind would be the dream.

Fighting with My Family has had a fantastic reception so far, including a 92% score on Rotten Tomatoes. What did you enjoy most about playing Ricky Knight?
Oh yeah! Probably the mohawk…

Was that real?
It was real! It gave me a valid excuse to say, “Yeah, sorry, I just need to grow a mohawk for four months.” I liked playing Ricky, especially when he’s in his wrestling persona. I’ve been a wrestling fan for years, so watching the way wrestlers interact with the audience is always funny for me. I enjoy how massive they were in their performances. My performances are usually fairly small and natural, so having the chance to be someone as big as Ricky in wrestling mode was a real treat. I always love it when wrestlers tell the audience to shut up, so I get that in there whenever I can in the film.

What famous food stuff do you have in Nottingham? Have you got a mince pie called a ‘biddy’ or something?

Did you watch the initial Channel 4 documentary or meet with the real Ricky in preparation?
I didn’t meet Ricky until the night of the UK Premiere, which was weird, because I’d played him. When I actually saw him, it was emotional! It was like meeting my Dad for the first time. I had a weird reaction to it. I had watched the documentary years ago, but Stephen Merchant (who directed Fighting with my Family) sent it along with the script when he offered me the part, so I watched it again. It’s kind of amazing, I’m glad it happened to them.

We talked to your Spaced co-star Jessica Hynes about making her directorial debut with The Fight. Is directing something that has ever appealed to you?
I haven’t really looked in to it, but I’d totally like to do it. Acting is really hard! I’d love to see what it was like. I think it gets to a point when you’re producing things, as well as writing and starring in them, where eventually you just say, you know what, let’s just direct it as well. I’d say that sometime in the next couple of years, I’d really love to do it.

Have you got a specific project in mind?
We’re writing a thing called Truthseekers at the moment – it’s an eight-episode series about ghost hunters.

Is that through Stolen Picture, the production company that you started with Simon Pegg in 2016?
Yes, definitely. We’re literally just trying to get the first and second drafts of those eight episodes down, and we’ll hopefully be shooting in the summer. We’ve spent the last year developing things, and this is the first year where we’ll really start to go into production.

Despite being known primarily as a comedic actor, you’ve also shown a flare for more dramatic moments. Is straight drama ever anything that you’d like to try?
I’d suggest that you can’t split the two things. There’s no such thing as a balls-out comedy, even if you look at something like Step Brothers, there are still moments of drama there. Good comedy should have drama in it, and good drama should have elements of comedy. I always call it ‘putting the fun into funeral’. Yes, it will be shit, but funerals will arguably be some of the funniest, happiest days you can have. Unless it’s your own.

So with EM-Con coming up, is there anything you’re looking forward to doing in Nottingham? And have you ever been before?
I have never been to Nottingham before!

You’ve never lived, Nick…
You know what, maybe I haven’t.  I’ll be working I guess when the football is on, so maybe I could take a ride into your famous forest. What famous food stuff do you have in Nottingham? Have you got a mince pie called a ‘biddy’ or something?

I guess mushy peas would be our local delicacy...
That’s it? I guess it’s a regional pleasure. Have you got a curry mile?

Fantastic, that’ll do then.

Nick Frost will be appearing at EM-Con Nottingham on May 4-5. You can listen to the full interview by downloading the LeftLion Film Podcast from iTunes

Nottingham Em-Con website

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