Interview: Richard Glover
THIS ARTICLE WAS WRITTEN IN NOVEMBER 2012 FOR THE VELVET ONION
From the very first moments of The Velvet Onion, we have always championed what we dubbed “The Wider World Of Booshdom” – this mish-mash of collaborative creative types who had lit up our world with their unique blend of fun. One such name on our lists is one that Boosh fans will remember from his brief but memorable appearance in their third series, and those who come here for more than checking what Noel’s hair is doing this week will know that over the past decade, Richard Glover has been carving out an impressive body of work. Those lucky enough to have seen it, and particularly those lucky enough to have met him will also know, he’s bloody hilarious.
The man who, for some baffling reason currently has three separate profiles on imdb, is heading home to get ready for yet another screening of Sightseers, when TVO calls him up for a quick catch-up. Oddly, it’s also our first chance to properly discuss his work despite featuring it on our pages for the last three years, and he answers the phone in the queue at The Co-Op, joyously welcoming us at the top of his voice in a cod American accent, before asking if we to call back in a few minutes. After a bit of a mishap with a bus (funny, considering he’ll be spending the evening at the British Transport Museum surrounded by the blighters for the Sightseers premiere), he’s free to chat, and it soon becomes clear to us that this particular interview is going to be a hoot.
“They keep going on!” he exclaims, when we mention the latest screening. “The London Film Festival was the gala screening, and I went to Cannes for the premiere there, which was very exciting. They had one last Thursday, which I couldn’t go to, and then this one tonight, which is being called the UK Premiere. I’m not sure what the difference is anymore, but it will be fun. I get to wear my suit again.”
TVO suggests the reason for so many screenings is because the film is a big deal. They’ve got a potentially bona-fide hit on their hands, and have even started putting trailers before some screenings of Skyfall. This fact, takes Glover aback. “Bloody hell, that’s a bit flash!” he states, before casually adding the magnificent phrase ‘cool bananas’. “It’s quite an amazing thing that’s happening, isn’t it, with this Sightseers malarky? It’s bloody wonderful.”
Richard is particularly happy that all of his is happening to his long-standing friends and cohorts, Alice Lowe and Steve Oram. “They’re good, old friends of mine, so it’s lovely seeing them doing so well,” he affirms, before adding with typical charm: “Alice is constantly getting her hair done beautifully.”
They met around nine years ago, when Glover was recruited alongside John Willie Hopkins to the prestigious Ealing Live team, which featured Lowe and Oram alongside a number of other regular names from our pages. “This big gang of us, you know,” he recalls, “we’ve been growing as friends ever since. It’s been rather lovely, because we all do the same thing… get on stage and take silly risks. We’re all in it together.”
“It’s really lovely that these nice noises are happening now, because it’s been a long time in the making. Let’s hope they keep happening,” he reflects. “We’ve all been plugging away at it for years. We’re in it for the long haul, so fingers crossed it’ll go very excitedly, and in a year’s time I’ll be dating Scarlet Johanssen.”
Glover and TVO both lose all ability to withhold giggles at this point, and we suggest that if that happens, he’ll still have to come back home on a regular basis to help his mates out. He jokes: “Steve who? Alice what? Nah, we’ll be getting helicopters to each other’s yachts, even though they’re moored next to each other. Of course.”
He pauses for a second, then confesses: “They’re all like family now, you know. We’ve all been in it together, and slowly within this large group of us, certain people are starting to do very well. It’s lovely to be a small part of that.”
If that’s not enough to warm the cockles of peelers everywhere, TVO takes this opportunity to mention the praise his co-stars have been dishing out about Richard. How his general vibe lifted the mood on set, and made them both feel so much more comfortable. Glover seems genuinely touched by this notion.
“I remember arriving on set,” he tells us, “in what I think they called A Desolate Place. The hale was lashing down, and everyone was wrapped up tight in their winter gear. I turned up in my cycling lyrca, and I was so excited to see Steve and Alice making a film. I felt like one of their mates just showing up on set and going: ‘Bloody hell, look at you! Look at all these people running around from an idea you had in yer bedroom!’”
“We were at the top of the Lake District,” he continues, “and I’d never been to the Lake District before. It was just so exciting to see them, and doubly so because I got to come and play. I remember that day just going: ‘Bloody hell, hello!’ And all these poor, cold, bedraggled people… because I arrived at lunchtime, and I hadn’t suffered the full flak of this weather. It was like being the sub on at half time who’s got fresh legs, trying to pep everyone up. I was just so bloody excited about the whole thing. I still am.”
The weather conditions must have taken their toll on people, surely? “You kind of get pampered a bit,” he reveals. “People give you nice big warm coats and taken to somewhere dry whenever you’re not needed to get lashed with rain. You can’t complain at all. I’ve secretly always wanted to be in the S.A.S. so that was my tiny little bit of handling the weather. A friend of mine used to say I could have been in the S.A.S. but on reception.”
More giggles, and before we go off too far on the tangent over the image that suggestion immediately conjures up, we drag the conversation back to one of the most memorable aspects of Glover’s character, Martin: his unusual one-man Carapod. Designed to be pulled like a normal caravan, but smaller than your average bike, the device was the invention of co-writer Amy Jump and director Ben Wheatley, and as Alice Lowe explained to us, it really helped define Martin as an unusual man, rather than just another camper. But it certainly doesn’t look very comfortable.
“Don’t tell anyone,” Richard whispers, “but it wasn’t!” Suddenly, he veers into the notion of actually selling them as real objects. “I don’t actually think it will take off,” he suggests, “unless they get some super light version made. I actually cycled it twice up this stony path up the mountain. It’s a long way, and by the end of it I was completely broken, and it didn’t even make the cut! You need to be strong to pull that heavy thing, or it needs some modifications before it can be wonderful. It was kind of cosy, but I don’t think it was very waterproof, and there wasn’t a lot of space for your things. But a lot of people look at it and say they wouldn’t mind getting one, so there’s something in it? Would you like one?”
TVO suggests it could be useful if you fancy recreating the route seen in the film, and Glover is again alight with excitement. “Yes!” he cries out. “You could go and see the museums. Drop a bit of litter where Tony Way drops some… then pick it up, obviously. They’re quite nice places. I wouldn’t mind visiting some of those, like the pencil museum. I used to live in Stockwell and there’s Museum of Type, which I never actually went to. It’d probably be quite quirky and unusual. You might go and discover a font. Fall in love.”
TVO suddenly remembers that Bunny And The Bull also features a series of odd museums – this time across Europe – and suggests this could be a nice genre in itself. “Yeah, we’re going to make unusual things popular again,” adds Richard. “I guess that’s the jist of it. The minutiae of Sightseers, and how lots of ordinary people have really unusual hobbies. I like to make galleons out of walnut shells. There’s all sorts of craziness going on behind closed doors.”
“Actually, speaking of the carapod, there was an accident that got kept in the film. Just after I meet them, I hop into it and it shot off down the hill. Ben hadn’t shouted cut, so I thought: ‘Oh, I’ll just keep going.’ What you can’t see is just behind where the camera was is the lake, and I was thinking: ‘Are they going to shout cut and come and bloomin’ rescue me?’ Luckily,” he adds, dryly, “I managed to save my own life.”
Richard had in fact, been cast in the previous attempt at bringing Sightseers to the screen, and was itching to be involved in the film, but keen not to take a part for granted. “Steve told me it was going to be made into a film,” he confesses, “and because you don’t want to make your friends feel awkward, I just congratulated him. In retrospect, I’m really pleased that I didn’t rely on any sort of nepotism, and auditioned at an open casting. I got the part on my own merits.”
“If they’d just given it me because I was in the pilot,” he reveals, “then I’d have felt I hadn’t earned the right. I was really pleased when I found out I had got it, though Ben didn’t realise the connection until much later. So, I’m glad that I was British about it. Though god, if I hadn’t got it,” he adds, “I’d have wished to damn hell I hadn’t been so British!”
We suggest that Glover’s smooth RP tones and jovial attitude do help make him quite a quintessential Brit, and he laughs and tells us we should meet his father! “I just got the most lovely letter from him today,” he says, before adding, “Well, email, he’s moved on. It was like a letter from the 1950s. He’s blooming marvellous. Thanks for calling me British… so are you!”
He’s certainly made an impact on Ben Wheatley, who has cast him again in his latest film, A Field In England. “Again, I didn’t believe my blooming luck,” he tells us. “Claire Jones [Ben’s regular producer] texted me going: ‘Hey, I don’t suppose you’re free for a couple of weeks at the end of September?’ So I said…”
He adopts an elongated, high pitched voice. “‘Yes, why?’”
“She said: ‘Well, we’re doing this film, and we want you to be in it.’ That was super nice. I didn’t even have to audition. It was like a pat on the back, because we get awfully tender butterflies at times, we actor types. To get that, and be offered the part, was just super lovely – and good pressure as well, because you think: ‘My god. You’ve done one good thing. Now they’re offered you this other good thing. You’d better make sure you keep coming up with the goods!’”
Naturally, we’re keen to help the team behind the film keep things a secret, so we don’t push for spoilers, but do ask Richard if he can tell us about the experience, without revealing anything. A tall order, of course, but he rises to the occasion.
“Well, I’m looking forward to that coming out,” he deadpans. “I hope it comes out. I have recurring nightmares about it. I hope I’m not like Joseph and his Technicolor Dreamcoat, and I’m just fuelled by paranoia. But we all read the script and thought: ‘This is crazy!’ We weren’t quite sure how it would unfold. It’s like a view into the minds of Ben and Amy. I feel like we actors were just small cogs in this thing, and I can’t wait to see what it’s going to turn out like. It’ll gives you goose pimples.”
Glover, it seems, is full of praise for Wheatley. “He’s got a lovely sort of charm about him,” he notes. “Inside that big head of his he’s got it all under control. On set there’s always maelstrom of people running around willingly, all glad to work with him, whilst he calmly moves around and gets this shot, and that shot, much more than any other director. He creates a really calm atmosphere in amongst all this craziness. You know that in his mind, he’s got it all under control.”
What the future holds for Richard, post A Field In England, remains to be seen. In the coming weeks, he’ll be hosting the latest Forgery Club show at a secret location near St Paul’s Cathedral as part of Pros From Dover, and has recently filmed a couple of sketches for the second series of audience-dividing BBC2 show Watson & Oliver, which he believes has “some really bloody good stuff in it” this time around.
“I’m really looking forward to the Forgery Club,” he tells me. “One of our number can’t do it, so I’m going to try and get some other people in that you’ll know. It’s always fun to have lots of people, rather than the pressure being on just a few of you.”
“And you know,” he adds, “I’ll keep doing the sit-ups, because I want to be the next James Bond.” We remind him of that trailer placement, and wonder if the producers of the Bond series have seen it and have their eye on him. “You’re right,” agrees Richard. “I’m that close! Just a few press ups and sit ups away. Thanks for not laughing too much at that, by the way. Most people don’t believe me when I say that I mean it.”
The campaign starts now, we suggest. “Unless Steve gets there first!” he replies. “They’ve never had a ginger Bond, have they?” TVO opines that Ginger Bond sounds like a 1940s jazz singer. “Yeah… or a biscuit. I’d quite like a ginger bond biscuit.”
And with that, we let this maverick mind toddle off into his realm. He has a suit to go put on, and must practise talking to Miss Moneypenny. As we bid our farewells, we’re safe in the knowledge that within a few days, everyone going to see Sightseers will know just how wonderful, funny and downright charming Richard Glover is too.