Save Me was one of the best British drama series in recent years, thanks to the genius of Lennie James. Recently, and much to our relief while stuck in lockdown, a second season aired, under the name Save Me Too. While James is very much at the forefront of this project, he’s joined by a series of talented collaborators, some of which he goes way back with. Jason Flemyng is one such actor, and we spoke to him ahead of the show’s home entertainment release.
“When Save Me was being made we knew that it was special,” Flemyng began, as we spoke on Zoom. “We all do other gigs, like Lennie does The Walking Dead and I do Pennywise, we all make our money doing what we do. Then jobs like Save Me come along and it’s a tonic. We’re lucky enough to have worked a lot over many years, and we just crack on together on something that we can really be proud of. It’s a real tonic. It’s a thrill to do, and to do it twice.”
Flemyng makes for a unique interview experience, for he’s so at ease, and just speaks his own mind. Not in a self-righteous way, just in a frank, honest manner. He comes from a generation of British actors who have gone on to such great success, both here and in America, and now feels he’s reaping the rewards of having this same generation now be behind the lens, not just in front of it.
“We’ve all been foot soldiers for a very long time, and then some of us have started to become more in control of the means of production, and write our own stuff and bring it to the broadcasters. So when you have a show like Save Me, and Lennie phones up and says, ‘do me a favour, there’s no dough but can you do seven weeks on this?’ Saying he won’t write me in too much so it’s only a couple days a week. When you start speaking like that to each other, you start to take control of it a bit more.”
Perhaps this is one of the elements that makes Save Me such enjoyable telly, is just the swagger of the cast, it feels like a bunch of mates making a TV series, and it’s full of that dedication and diligence you’d expect when relying on your pals. There’s a family feel to show, despite some of the characters being somewhat reprehensible. For Flemyng, he believes it’s that confidence they have in one another that has bred such an engaging two series.
“Confidence is 80% of talent, you know? The confidence on camera to open a door and know without a shadow of a doubt that when you pull it, it’s going to open,” he said. “When you start out, when you’re nervous, you worry which way the door will go, which way will the handle turn? Stephen Graham, Lennie James and Suranne don’t often open doors and worry about it. That’s evident and it’s contagious to the younger actors and to the supporting artists. Everyone feels confident it will all be okay and that enriches the show and the performances 100%.”
Flemyng reprises his role of Tam, a cross-dressing hostess at a local nightclub. For the actor, it’s been a walk in the park.
“It’s the easiest part I’ve ever played,” he said. “The gangsters and villains and thugs I’ve played my whole life are one thing, but Tam’s probably closer to me than anyone I’ve ever played. I found it very easy. Apart from the spanks and the make-up, there was nothing new. By the way spanks bruv. Spanks for blokes are the future. They’re fucking great! You can wear jeans and a white t-shirt and just bowl along down the high street,” he laughed. We asked if he kept any of the clothes for himself. “I took the shoes, mate,” he replied.
We then asked what he learnt from his experience playing Tam “You learn a lot from it,” he said. “For instance, I learnt more about the transgender community and about how to refer to them, and how they want to be referred to. You definitely learn. It’s very enriching.”
We also wanted to know if it’s a role he’d be interested in playing again one day, but he wasn’t so sure if that opportunity would arise. If only because it would be hard to get another pun in the title.
“Save Me Thrice? Or ‘I Saved You the First Time’. It’s difficult. But I think Lennie has some ideas, but it’s more of an icing on the cake rather than an actual cake. I was excited about maybe doing something else together, but with the same actors. Say Save Me is his Shakespeare, then maybe we can go on and do some Noel Coward. He can write another script for the same actors but not the same characters. That would be exciting.”
So how about now? What’s keeping Flemyng busy in recent weeks? An actor who is known for his prolific back-catalogue, with so many irons in the fire – has this downtime been a chance to rest up and reflect?
“Because I grew up under Thatcher, even though I’m an old comrade, we all have this work ethic that came through that period, where relaxing is either running and exercising, but sitting on the sofa and watching TV, there’s a guilt to it that’s instilled by Thatcher and her goons,” he explained. “But the one thing she gave me that I am appreciative of is that work ethic. People of my age, who are so lucky to make a living out of this profession, we just crack on. And that’s kind’ve what I’ve done. So now when people want me to work, I find it difficult to say no.”
Finally, we wanted to chat about Lock Stock, because why not? In lockdown there’s been this inclination of late for old classic movies to reunite their cast, as they chat online together, and look back over the projects we’ve loved across the years.
“The thing about success, is that it’s quite bonding,” he said. “The boys from Lock Stock I already speak to regularly. Statham I’ve always been close to, we holiday together and speak at least once a month. Dexter I speak to at least once a week, we play poker together. Me and Vas [Blackwood] Whatsapp each other every day. Guy keeps in contact. The success of that was so bonding because it was all of our first proper big success. It’s very bonding to go through that. You know, me and the cast of Seed of Chucky are not so much in contact.”
We ended by asking him whether he got a sense while shooting Lock Stock that it would go on to have the success it did.
“To be honest, no,” he admitted. “I was brass, and we were in a film with Vinnie Jones, know what I mean? That was the reality of it. So it was definitely not something we thought was going to go through the roof. But while we were making it, we knew it was fun. You could see that we were having a good time, and like we said before, it’s all about confidence. There’s no-one I’ve ever met to this day who is as confident as Guy Ritchie. It’s very contagious, everyone feels good when they’re around Guy.”
Save Me Too is available on digital now and on DVD alongside Save Me 1 & 2 Box Set from 22 June