Nick Nevern is back on the big screen this week in The Fall of the Essex Boys - which is a new take on a well known tale.
I caught up with Nick to chat about the film, how it differs to other projects that tackle the same topic and how his directing career is taking shape.
- The Fall of the Essex Boys is your new movie so can you tell me a little bit about it?
It is basically the real life tale of three guys that were murdered in a Range Rover in Essex back in 1995.
That is the basic outline but this film does go a little deeper than some of the other movies as it looks at the police aspect of the crimes and how the police were dealing with these three drug dealers.
- You take on the role of Darren Nicholls in the film so what was it about the script and this character that initially appealed to you?
When I was approached to it I was sceptical about it, only because there have been so many other films about this same topic.
But when I read it I realised that it wasn’t a bio-pic and it was more of a ‘what if?’ story. The character of Darren really stood out because it wasn’t what I had seen of him in other films; don’t get me wrong the actors who have played him before played him amazingly.
But in this particular script there was something that was a little more layered to him and I really liked that and I really liked someone who is playing two lives; he has got his life with the Essex Boys and he has got his other life which is more to do with the police side of things. And I found these two aspects fascinating and that is why I jumped on board.
- The movie is based on a true story so how familiar were you with the story before you started working on the film? And what kind of research did you do as you were preparing for the film?
I knew about the story as I was about fifteen and sixteen when it happened to so I do remember it - it didn’t mean anything to me at the time but I do remember it being a big thing on the news. It was hard to do research for my character because he is in witness protection and so there is not much about him.
So I had to go freestyle with it and create a character - which I kind of enjoyed really and I think it was far more fun to do that than to play a real person.
- This is a story that has fascinated British cinema over the years with Essex Boys and Bonded by Blood telling versions of this story. You have touched on this already but how does this new movie differ to what has come before?
If it had been the same kind of thing I probably wouldn’t have done it. The fact that we don’t really follow the three Essex Boys as our lead choosing instead to follow the police - obviously we do follow the Essex Boys but it is more about the police.
So it is more about how the police were dealing with these three guys who were running around Essex and supplying everyone with drugs and being a general nuisance.
Because there is no account of what the police were up to at the time it is more of a ‘what if?’ tale rather than a biopic which I liked.
- Can you talk about your character of Darren and how we see him develop throughout the film because he is a fascinating one?
He is seriously layered this time around and the whole film is told through his voiceover so it is his tale. He is a drug runner who is running with Mickey Steele and Jack Whomes supplying pills from Amsterdam to Essex.
As the film progresses you see that he is not all he is made out to be - I am not sure how much I am allowed to say - but you see that there is more to him than you standard drug pusher.
- Paul Tanter is in the director’s chair for the film so how did you find working with him? And what kind of director is he?
Paul is a legend and I have worked with him many times now, this is our fourth film together, and we have developed a real shorthand together.
He doesn’t really need to direct as such with the acting as he knows what I am about and I know what he is about and so he just ‘stand here’ ‘stand there’ and I do it.
It is a very friendly atmosphere on our films as me, Jonathan Sothcott, Simon Philips and Paul Tanter we are all good friends and we love making movies together.
We are in a privileged position of being able to do what we love and what is the point if you are not going to have a bit of fun? So I enjoy making films with my friends.
- The likes of Robert Cavanah, Kierston Wareing and Peter Barrett are just some of the names on the cast list so what was is like working with them? And what was the feeling like on set?
It was great. I have worked with Peter Barrett on five movies and he is one of my dearest friends and he is just a solid actor.
Robert Cavanah is someone who I have respected for a long time and this was the first time that I have worked with him. Since the film we have spoken about doing another project together so hopefully we will do something together soon.
It was my first time meeting and working with Kierston Wareing and she is someone who I have respected for a long time. She has a lot of bottle to reprise this role for the third time - why should she give up this role? It is her role.
This is her role and she deserves to play it again and I respect her for doing it. I know a lot of people might think why is she doing it again? But it is hers - she has played it in two other roles why should she not do it again?
- The film it released this week but how have you found the early response to the film so far?
It is mixed. It is going to be mixed and we all go into a film like this with out eyes open. We don’t have the money than Rise of the Footsoldier but what we do have is a while load of new and fresh faces and a new exciting storyline.
Some of the people that I have spoken to have said ‘brilliant, wicked’, some have seen the trailer and gone ‘this looks amazing’ which others have seen the trailer and gone ‘oh not another one’.
I am not naive enough to know that there is going to be hate for this film but I also hope that people are going to enjoy it because it is something different.
- You are currently working on your second directorial outing The Hooligan Factory so can you tell me a little bit about that project - you have got a great cast including Dexter Fletcher?
Yeah, we have got a great cast. I wrote this film with Mike Lindley and basically it got snapped up really quickly.
It is a spoof film of all the hooligan films such as Football Factory, The Firm, Green Street and it is a spoof film of all of these. It is fun; it is a lot of fun.
With the casting I really went out there… people like Dexter Fletcher and Leo Gregory are all in there but they are all playing little cameo roles to better the movie as they are iconic to the genre.
My lead characters are played by Tom Burke and Josef Altin - you would never expect them to be in a hooligan film and that is why they are there.
I am very excited about it and the rushes are looking amazing and we have two weeks of the shoot to go. I just hope that it will be a successful one for me as I have got a lot of love for this project.
- As I said this is your second stint in the director’s chair since Terry so how have you found the transition from actor to filmmaker? And how do you think your experience as an actor has helped you as a filmmaker?
When I made Terry I made that for £500 out of my own money as I was just sick and tired of not getting parts; I was going up for things and just not getting them.
I just thought ‘I am going to do this for myself’ and I got a group of my friends together and we made this movie. I then met Jason Maza and he got it off the ground and got it linked up with Lionsgate.
I am a big fan of film and being an actor is my passion and it is what I really love but making movies is becoming something that I always wanted to try.
I am now in a privileged position where I can do that and if The Hooligan Factory is successful it might give me a bit more money to make a bigger film.
- Finally what is next for you? Are we going to see you continue to mix acting with directing?
Yes you will, definitely a 100%. I am already starting to write my next feature with Mike Lindley which will hopefully start work on this year.
I am also doing a little bit in Vendetta, which is Danny Dyer’s new film with Jonathan Sothcott - they asked me if I wanted to do a little bit in it and I said ‘I would love to’.
So you are definitely going to be seeing more of me as this is my career now and this is all that I have got. I am not going to stop because I am a workaholic and all I care about is work.
The Fall of the Essex Boys is released 8th February.