Martin Compston

Martin Compston

Martin Compston is back on the big screen this week with this his new movie Piggy, which is the directorial debut of Kieron Hawkes.

Piggy is a hard-hitting , violent and gritty British movie which sees the young actor really come into his own.

I caught up with Martin to talk about Piggy, working with Kieron as well as what else we will be seeing him in this year.

- Piggy is about to be released into UK cinemas so can you tell me a little bit about the movie?

Basically it’s about this young boy who is a little bit lost in life; he is a bit of a lost soul really. But his brother comes back into his life and starts to bring him out of his shell and reintegrates him back into society until he his brother is murdered.

From there he meets this enigmatic figure called Piggy and things start to get out of control.

- You take on the role of Joe in the movie so what was it about the character and the script that initially drew you to the project?

The script itself was cracking it was one of the most complete scripts that I had read from a first time feature film director. The dialogue was loaded with just cracking beats and it was intense and quite relentless at times.

The script also showed two sides to the character of Joe, at the beginning there are feelings inside him that I think are in everybody - that paranoid feeling when you are walking down the street and you feel there is someone behind you but there is nothing there - and it was just about ramping those feelings up.

And the other side of it is revenge and how far would you go to avenge someone who was murdered in your family?

We have all bumped into dickheads in a bar on a Friday and Saturday night where they have said something to you and you have had to let it go and there’s that thing inside you where you think just once I would love to crack them in the mouth - so it’s just those feelings ramped up.

That was one of the great things about the script as it just pushed those lines of fantasy and asks how far can you take it? There is a reason why we don’t take it that far and that’ because most people are good people and cracking someone in the mouth is not a nice thing to do.   

- As I said you take on the role of Joe in the movie so how do we see him develop throughout the film?

Before the death of his brother he is already was a troubled lad, he was terrified of his own shadow, and he is mugged at the beginning of the film so he hasn’t got a lot of luck.

He just descends into this darker and darker place until he just snaps. And you can see how it can happen as some people can get lost, especially in London as it is a big band city and if you don’t have a net around you and bad things happen to you it’s easy to see how things can spiral out of control.

- Piggy is a dark film that has a fair amount of violence in it and Joe is quite a troubled and in some ways conflicted character so how did you find getting under the skin of this character to really understand him?

I really enjoyed it and as I said before Joe is an exaggerated version of something that we all have, paranoia and fear of hoodies when really they are just young kids, a lot of people seem to have an inbuilt fear of society now. 

Then there’s that bit inside you where there is a bit of pent up rage where you have let someone bang into you, push you off the bus, steal your place in the taxi queue and you have not said a word and let it go. So it’s just about tapping into those feelings and I really enjoyed it.

In one way you just went further of being scared of everyone and then the other side you got to be all the things that some part of you wants to be. 

- You have mentioned Kieron Hawkes already and his great script so how did you find him as a filmmaker, bearing in mind that this is his directorial debut?

He was cracking and he really does have the world at his feet, he was brilliant. I have had the chance to work with some great first time directors and Kieron can go as far as any of them.

I just think we were on the same page, there were only two bits in the script that jarred with me slightly; on the morning of shooting both of those scenes Kieron came to be first and said ’look something is not right why don’t we try this?’

And that was exactly what I was thinking - so we were on the same page the whole time.  He has got some great ideas up his sleeve and he really can go far.

- Well you have touched on my next question really I was wondering how much of a collaborative process was Piggy and the role of Joe? Is Kieron the kind of filmmaker that allows you to grow with a character and take them in the direction you feel they should go?

Yeah definitely. I think that most good directors can do that because they understand that when you cast certain people you end up knowing the character better than they do, to a certain point, because you are just living on instinct.

He definitely allowed freedom and I think a lot of the time his job was to just rein you in and bring you back to the truth of the script.

It is very collaborative but he is the starting point and he was the one you would always go to with questions but he always let me go where I wanted to go first and if it wasn’t working he would bring you back.

- There’s also a great performance from Paul Anderson in the title role so how did you find working alongside him?

Paul was superb. It would be a bit presumptuous of me to say now as I am only twenty seven and I have a long way to go but it was the best performance that I have ever seen evolve in front of my eyes, sometimes I would have to snap out of it because I was watching Paul rather than playing the scene.

Sometimes when you are working that hard, in Piggy I was almost in ever scene, you don't quite pick up bad habits because you are still committed but you tend to have everything mapped out in your head how you are going to play it. So you need to keep an element of spontaneity and that is what Paul did - he was a firework as you never knew what he was going to do so he kept me on my toes. 

- You are also going to be appearing in Filth so can you tell me a little bit about that?

Filth is a cracking cast with James McAvoy, Jamie Bell and Jim Broadbent and it was my favourite book as I am a massive Irvine Welsh fan; I have read everything he has ever written.

When they told me they were doing it I didn’t see how they were going to do it as it is such a good book, it’s so dark and a lot of the humour comes within the narration and there’s chapters and chapters of it.

But they have adapted it superbly - I played football with James yesterday and he has seen the first cut and he seemed very excited about it.

- We are also going to be seeing you back on TV with Line of Duty so how does working in TV and movies compare & differ?

TV is always been a little bit quicker you don’t get as much time, we were quite lucky with Piggy as we filmed in one huge warehouse that was converted into sets so never felt rushed until the final week.

But TV there is so many scenes to get though and so many pages a day. But Line of Duty is quite big budget so we weren’t really that rushed.

It is a cracking cast that I am working with and I was chuffed because I never could see myself getting a part like that, I mean I don’t have doubts about my own ability, I just didn’t think that I would be allowed to lead a show of this magnitude - hopefully that it’s going to take me to the next stage of my career.

- Is there a medium that you prefer?

I definitely prefer film. I get not bored easily but if I was on something for seven or eight months doing the same sort of thing I would go a bit stale I like to change things up.

But Line of Duty it was three and a half months and then done so it was like a long film. I was in done and off to do the next thing.

- Finally what’s coming up for you what other projects do you have in the pipeline?

I have got another movie out later this year called The Wee Man and it is a film about Paul Ferris, the most infamous Scottish gangster of all time.

It wasn’t an important part for me but it was a part that was ingrained in my conscious as I remember watching his trail and it is and it was a big part of Western Scotland culture when I was growing up. So I feel like I have got a lot of pressure on me to do it justice.

Piggy is released 4th May

FemaleFirst Helen Earnshaw


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