The film has obviously been out for a while now. Has there been any reaction that has been particularly memorable?
I think people had lots and lots of Twitter traffic from people saying that dancing had broken out in screenings and people saying that there’d been a flash mob of salsa dancers! Is there a deeper meaning about aesthetic beauty in the film? Maybe, but essentially the film is about love and dancing. If even a thousand people came out of that cinema feeling happy, it’s a win.
In Cuban Fury, Bruce discovers what he wants to do with his life at a very early age. When did you first discover that acting was what you wanted to do?
I think I was 30, because I didn’t do anything up to that point in terms of a career – I just fucked around! I always imagined that I would be happy and everything would be alright. Looking back now it’s just a naïve attitude to have I guess. If my son got to the age of 29 and didn’t really know what he wanted to do I’d be a bit cross. I think it was only after the second series of Spaced, and then we started doing Shaun of the Dead, when I thought…
I always loved it. I loved it from the minute I started to do it, but I had to go back to waiting tables in between series 1 and 2 of Spaced and then gradually more and more came in so it meant that acting was my full-time job. In the beginning too there was bits of presenting and being on the panel show with Lauren Laverne and Joe Cornish. I did a show called Danger! 50,000 and Danger! Incoming Attack! That wasn’t acting as such, but just working within television. Once I did Shaun of the Dead it seemed like it got real in terms of “you’ve just done a film and you’re back to doing a film”. It wasn’t until that point that I really said this is it.
I remember you telling me that you were training for this role for seven months. Has there been any other role you’ve had where that you’ve had to train specifically for and learn a new skill?
Not really. I trained to be a DJ for The Boat That Rocked, and for the entire period of that film I only listened to music pre-1970. They had a DJ booth set up in a little house in London and they built a booth from the 60’s, and you could go in at any time of day and be a radio presenter; play music, learn how to use faders etcetera. So I guess I did that and then there was some weapons training in Hot Fuzz and bits of fight training, but nothing like this. It was so long. It seems preposterous now thinking that you would have to train for seven months to do a little British rom-com about dancing.
How long did it take you to get these songs out of your head?
I don’t think they’re ever out of my head now [laughs]! I never ever had any Latin or Cuban music on my iPod before and now it’s just choc-full of it.
I wanted to ask about Kayvan Novak, who I thought was brilliant. What made you think of him for the role?
I knew of him. We just had a casting with he and I and our producers, and we improvised for about 40 minutes. And it just worked, and we really liked one another and we gave each other space. That’s the thing about improvising; you’ve got to stand back and let someone else have it and then you hope that they offer it back and that allows you to move forward otherwise it stops and it doesn’t work. We just had a really nice chemistry and we really liked one another from the get-go.
Speaking of improvising, how much deleted footage might we see on the Blu-ray?
There is some stuff on there but not a great deal. The thing about Chris O’Dowd too is that he’s such a fantastic improviser that most of them got used. He doesn’t tend to improvise shit, he’s great.
Did you keep anything from the set of this one?
I have the finale clothes that Bruce wears. I also have a few of the medals that he pulled out of the box. I have one of the big sings that was outside the club too, but I don’t know where to stick it. It’s in the shed, nowhere to put it. If I’m number 1 on the call sheet then I’ll try and get a clapper board at the end of it. It’s always nice to get little bits and pieces. You don’t know how long it’s going on for so it’s nice to have a memento of something I can flog that shit!
You’ve obviously been doing this for a while now. Do you give any thought to shaping your career the way you want in the types of roles you play and the films you star in?
Yeah. I think it’s important to say no to stuff. I think, touch wood and this is just my opinion, that I’ve been really lucky in the stuff that I’ve done in as much as it’s all been alright. There have been stinkers but everyone has those and I think it’s a question of how much you have. If you can say no to something that you really think is not going to work just don’t do it. That annoys my wife slightly because she’s like “just do it!” I think you could judge actors by what they haven’t done as opposed to what they’ve done.
You’ve got a voice role in Boxtrolls coming up. If you could see any of your live action films done in animated form, which one would it be?
[Laughs] Maybe Shaun of the Dead. There’s a graphic novel for Shaun of the Dead so that maybe goes halfway but I think that would make a nice visual feast.
This film could be quite cool…
Cuban would be good. I think Cuban would be good on stage too! Animated films are so much fun to do. They come and let you do what you want and it’s easy. I did my stuff with Richard Ayoade who’s amazing, and you got to sit at home and think of a funny voice and then you do it. I really enjoyed it. I’ve seen about twenty minutes and it looks amazing.
And then you’ve also got Business Trip with Vince Vaughn. The cast in that is fantastic.
Yeah, and Dave Franco and Tom Wilkinson. We shot that last November and December in Berlin and Boston and it was great. I’ve been a big fan of Vince Vaughn for a long time. To be invited to come and create a character and be in a Vince Vaughn film, I was really thrilled. To find out that he’s hungry for it and he’s a generous actor and a generous person was great. I think you’d be forgiven for thinking that someone who’s been in Vic’s position for as long as he had might be a certain way. He was not that at all.
Final question: Bruce gets some great advice from Olivia Colman’s Sam in the film. If you could give the Nick Frost of 1998 any advice, what would it be?
[Laughs] I would say “don’t worry, it’ll be alright, and keep going”.
Cuban Fury is out on DVD and Blu-Ray now.