Alan Ford is back on the big screen this week in new Brit horror/comedy Cockneys Vs Zombies - which sees him try to save the East End from a Zombie invasion.
I caught up with the actor to chat about the movie, working with director Matthias Hoene as well as upcoming projects.
- You are about to star in Cockneys vs. Zombies so can you tell me a little bit about the movie?
Well it is a comedy obviously. It is a really funny film and when I saw the script for the first time I thought it was really good script.
When I knew the cast a lot of them were my old mates as well as a gang of really talented youngsters.
The film is about zombie emerging in London and I play and OAP in a care home and the youngsters in the film are my grandchildren and they commit a robbery so that I can be re-housed safely.
But the robbery goes wrong and the robbers get mixed up with zombies and then the grandchildren come to rescue me with a load of guns from a character called Metal Mickey.
Being an ex-soldier with leadership qualities I arm all of the OAP’s and we fight back against the zombies. I get to shoot about four hundred zombies and have a couple of fist fights with them.
- You take on the role of Ray Macguire in the film so what was it about this character and James Moran’s script that initially interested you?
The character was perfect for me as he is my age and an action men - he is an ex-soldier.
So it was a lovely character to play. Also I get to snog Honor Blackman fifty years after she snogged James Bond (laughs).
- This cast list blends experienced actors such as yourself with some young talent like Michelle Ryan and Harry Treadaway so how did you find working with everyone - particularly the younger actors?
No problem at all as they are all very talent young people as well as being really professional.
Young Harry Treadaway looks like he is going to become a big star as he is currently working with Johnny Depp.
Rasmus Hardiker is a lovely young actor and Michelle Ryan is a lovely lady to work with.
Then there was another guy called Jack Doolan and a young blonde called Georgia King and they were all no problem at all and lovely to work with.
- As you say you take on the role of Ray in the movie so can you tell me a bit about your character and how we are going to see him develop throughout the movie?
The character develops from being a grumpy, surly - no not surly he is just a man who is in a situation that he doesn’t want to be in; he is an active OAP in a care home and he doesn’t like being there.
But when the zombie attack and it all kicks off he comes to life and I think he enjoys the fight.
- Matthias Hoene is in the director’s chair for the movie and making his feature film debut so how did you find him as a filmmaker?
Excellent, a really nice man. He was unflappable, a quiet man but he was very strong. So yes he was strong, quiet and superb. No problem at all.
- What kind of director is he - does he like discussion and collaboration with the actor about the characters and the direction in which they should be taken?
No he never had much to say at all. There were a few lines here and there and every so often he would come over and whisper in your ear ‘take this down’ or ‘change this slightly’.
But no he went about his business in a very gentle and sensitive way.
- This is a horror comedy so how did you find trying to balance those two elements as an actor?
I have not a problem at all . You either believe in zombies or you don’t and if you don’t then there’s comedy (laughs). If you believe in real zombies then you are in trouble (laughs).
- Cockneys vs. Zombies is independent movie so how much do you enjoy working in this area for the industry? Does an independent give a little bit more creative freedom than a big studio project?
Well that always depends on the director as it is the director who allows you to have free range or whatever.
I just love making movies and so for me it was a good one to be in and a good one to make. It really was a lot of fun to do.
- You shot out and about on the streets of London so what kind of an experience was that?
It was great working down on Canary Wharf as we worked all around that area as well as on the boat.
The interiors were shot down in South London so that was a long journey to get down there every morning and then tough to come back during rush hour at night.
The interiors were kind of dry and dusty, especially when the blood at the dust starts flying around.
- What do you think sets this movie apart from other zombie films that we have seen over the years?
We have got real zombies - these are not just actors dressed up they are actually weekend zombies. These are people who have their own zombie costumes and who are in touch with each other on the internet.
And they stay in character when the director says ‘cut’ - they stay in character (laughs) they were wonderful.
- You have enjoyed a long and successful career and in that time you have worked in TV as well as movies so how do the two mediums compare?
Well the work is the work and you just concentrate on the work when you are doing it. But personally I always feel happier in movies, I love making movies.
Ever since I can remember I have always wanted to be a movie actor - ever since I first went to the cinema and I looked up and thought ‘how can I get from here to there?’ It has taken a while but I managed it.
- We are also going to be seeing you in The Sweeney later this year so can you tell me a little bit about that?
I saw it just a week or so ago and it a terrific film as it is fast paced and action packed and my old mat Ray Winstone carries the movie on his big shoulders. It is a terrific action film and you get what you pay for.
I play a character who is a Mr Fix It - if you need a pistol I can get you a pistol or if you need to get rid of some gold I can do that of for you. He is very much in the shadows.
- The Sweeney is such a well loved TV programme so did you have any reservations about taking on the project?
No not at all. It was a good film and there was a nice character for me to play.
I have also known Ray for many years and it was interesting to meet Ben Drew, or Plan B as he calls himself, he is a very nice young man.
- Finally apart from The Sweeney what’s next for you?
I have got nothing lined up at the moment but that is not a problem as I have had a very busy few years. My work comes up at the last minute anyway so I could go home this afternoon and get a call.
But I expect these two movies to kick off a bit more work as that is what usually happens.
Cockneys vs. Zombies is out now
FemaleFirst Helen Earnshaw