Rowan Atkinson – Johnny English
[crowd cheers “Rowan”!]
RA: This can’t be a good environment for audio can it? [chuckles]
HeyUGuys: Back when you were doing the credit card adverts and saying lines like “smell the touareg camp fires” you must have know you were on to a good idea but did you realise just how good?
RA: The good thing about those original credit card commercials was that they were very “filmic”, they were like little movies, so it wasn’t a big step to think well maybe we could make a big movie using this character, which we eventually did.
ROTP: Who are you more like in real life. Bond or Bean?
RA: Well obviously [laughs]. Without wanting to claim that I’m really like James Bond I would certainly prefer to be thought of as closer to James Bond than Mr Bean most definitely.
ROTP: Do you think that Johnny English is more like the typical English man than James Bond?
RA: Yes, I think he is. I think in many ways he’s a more believable character. He’s someone who really means well it’s just that he’s not as good as he thinks he is, and I think that maybe that’s the British male in a nutshell.
We also got the chance to chat to director Oliver Parker, who seemed delighted with the crowd’s reaction to the premiere.
ROTP: Did you enjoy directing the more comedic or action parts of the film
OP: I love both actually. The action sequences are really exciting because you’re getting to work with some brilliant crew and do some great stuff but you always get some magic when you’re working with actors. We have a lovely cast and it’s a real privilege to be working with them and you get moments of comedy which are sometimes done without any big effects I don’t know if you’ve seen the film but the mole/vole for example is the scene of mine where they’re talking about a vole in MI7. That’s just two actors sitting in a helicopter but not moving and it’s the simplest thing to direct in one way but also the most charming so you get different things from different pictures.
ROTP: Do you use your experiences in the theatre world to coach your actors?
OP: It certainly helps, I think, with some actors to understand the process of acting. You see what extraordinary pressure they’re under, there’s a huge circus dedicated to a particular moment and they’re got to deliver and it can help that you, even if empathetically alone, understand what they’re doing.
HUG: You had really big stunts towards the end. How much fun were those to do?
OP: Great! Really terrific. You rarely get the pleasure of just doing them in one and seeing how great they are because nowadays you’ve got so many elements like the CGI so when you’re racing along on a skidoo in fact half the time you’re in Pinewood Studios. It’s not until you’ve spent several months in Framestore post-production before you see what you’ve got
HUG: Framestore are great aren’t they?
OP: Yes they’re really good. They did a great job and we’re very proud of their work, but it’s very exciting so it’s quite a slow burn build as you have the moment of shooting, which is always exhilarating and then you’re putting all the other pieces around it so it’s terrific, really good.
Ilan Eshkeri – Composer
ROTP: How did you approach the music for Johnny English?
IE: This scores quite diverse. There’s a lot of straight symphonic Hollywood-style music and we did a bunch of stuff with jazz bands, worked with John Barclay and Derek Watkins who did the original Bond theme which was brilliant and that was great fun. Then we also did a bunch of rock-and-roll things with Andy Burrows, who was the drummer from Razorlight who’s now a great artist in his own right. He came and played for us and Tim Wheeler from Ash played all the guitars so that was really fun and so the score’s really quite diverse, it goes through a bunch of different styles and that was fun.
HeyUGuys: If your phone was to ring tomorrow morning who would you want to be on the other end of it?
IE: Erm? Wow! If my phone was to ring tomorrow morning I would… I would… Alive or dead?
IE: This is perhaps not so original but J S Bach. It’d be great to have a conversation with him!
Johnny English Reborn is released in UK cinemas on October 7th
Photo top by Madison Hart