Rufus Hound makes his big screen debut this week as he leads an all star cast in Nigel Cole’s new comedy The Wedding Video.
I caught up with the funny man to talk about the movie, how he got involved and what it was like to fulfil a childhood dream.
- The Wedding Video is set to be released into cinemas this week so can you tell me a little bit about the movie?
It’s about a bloke called Raif, that is played by the devastatingly sexy Rufus Hound (laughs), who gets a phone call while he is off travelling around the world from his brother, played by Robert Webb, who says he is getting married and asks him to be his best man.
So my character being a bit skint decides he is going to buy a cheap video camera and make a documentary of everything in the lead up to the big day and give that to his brother as a wedding present.
So the film that you watch is the wedding video, it’s the video that my character has made of his brother’s wedding.
- As you say you take on the role of Raif in the movie so how did you first get involved in the movie? And what were your thoughts when you first read the script for the first time?
I got involved because Nigel Cole the director rung a number of people and was meeting them and really all we did was have a cup of tea, talk about Richard Dawkins and being a dad.
So I thought ‘clearly the guy has realised that you have a long list of people to get through and so he is not taking it that seriously’ and instead I got a phone call saying ‘you are down to the final three for the lead here are a couple of pages of dialogue to learn can you go in and meet them all?’ So I was pretty surprised by that happening.
I was told at that point that there wasn’t really a script but there were some ideas but by the time they offered it to me there was a full script written by the award winning Tim Firth, who had written Calendar Girls.
So we were blessed with an incredibly good script and some great jokes in that script and also a director that wanted to give us the freedom to play around with things; there was quite a lot of improv and things like that.
Upon reading the script I was delighted that it wasn’t all going to be improvised and that it wasn’t going to be me turning up everyday going ’shit I had better be funny’.
Tim wrote a brilliant script but we weren’t totally hamstrung by it. Because the film is meant to feel like this is a guy who has bought a video camera and is filming behind the scenes of the wedding if you will so if it felt too written or too performed it wouldn’t work - Nigel was always very keen that we kept it quite loose.
- Can you tell me a little bit about Raif and the journey that he goes on through the movie?
I think Raif is a guy that doesn’t take life very seriously and that is kind of why he has been travelling around the world as he is not interested in putting down roots or being tied to one place - he is a free spirit to an extent.
So when he comes back and his brother, who he left when their parents died to go off around the world instead of dealing with the fall out of his mum and dad dying, has instead buddied up with the society mob and they are going to have this wedding that is going to cost hundreds of thousands of pounds.
I think Raif is just very very confused as to why anyone would get married in this way or think this was a good way forward as it doesn’t make any sense to him.
So that is really what Raif is filming; he is trying to make sense of everything that is happening. In so doing I think we get a pretty good satire of the whole wedding industry and the fact that there are companies that are selling people the dream wedding and yet every time that dream comes true it’s another ten grand on the budget.
The thing is set in Cheshire and there is that whole Cheshire set where there are more millionaires per capita in that one town than there is in the rest of the UK.
It’s just sort of about that approach to weddings as the million pound event as opposed to what I think most people would want for their wedding which is one moment in their lives where they can look at the person that they love more than anyone in the world and say in front of their friends and family ’this is us now’.
So it is the simplicity of that vs. the complication the wedding industry now offers and I think that is why there are so many wedding comedies because of that disconnect between something incredibly pure and simple and what we have now made them; these million pound affairs. So I think that there is always going to be comedy in that.
- This is your big screen debut and your first movie experience so how have you found the move into film?
I am someone who owns a lot of DVDs and watches a lot of movies and is a big fan of the genre so being given the opportunity to be in one was like a birthday and Christmas present for the next ten years all rolled into one.
In terms of making the transition I am not particularly known as an actor but I have done bits and pieces - if you’ve asked me between the ages of two and eighteen I would have told you that is what I wanted to be.
When I got to college the people who had been very supportive of me wanting to be an actor just weren’t there any more because I had different teachers and different tutors and it just felt like a dream that I had to let go of.
Then through stand up and being on the TV it’s something that a few people have expressed an interest in me doing some more of and just being able to reconnect with that is incredibly lovely; it really does feel like enormous present to be given the chance to do more than that.
I wouldn’t say that I am making a transition into movies but I am stretching my wings in the thing that I always imagined I would end up doing.
I have just done a play at the Soho Theatre, which was a low budget little thing, I have done this movie and I am about to go on tour in One Man, Two Guvnors with The National Theatre - this is an opportunity for me to do the sort of thing that I would only have dreamed of as a kid.
- Bearing in mind that this has been a dream of yours what was it like stepping onto that film set for the first time?
Terrifying (laughs). It’s not just that you are stepping onto a film set but you are stepping onto a film set with Robert Webb, Harriet Walter, Miriam Margolyes, and Lucy Punch.
It’s not like we made a little student movie with a bunch of happy amateurs they are some of the most accomplished performers in the country and behind the camera one of the most productive and creative teams of the ten years in British cinema.
That was the added terror of it frankly (laughs). If I had felt like win lose of draw this is just a hobby then that would have been lovely but it wasn’t that and I really felt that I was putting my head into the lion’s mouth.
If you don’t bring you’re A-game then being on screen with Harriet Walter will soon put you right as to the standard that is required. That may sound horrible but I don’t mean it to be it’s just the sheer weight of her talent if you are not keeping up people will realise that very quickly as she is f***ing remarkable.
- You have mentioned Nigel Cole a couple of time already and he is in the director's chair so how did you find working with him?
It was an absolute treat. A director’s job on some level - and there is about a thousand things that they are doing all the time- is he has already made the movie in his head and he knows what the film is and what he has to do is get the film that exists in his head on to tape (laughs).
Some director’s have a sense of that and they really know the story that they are trying to tell and from a few things that I have done I get a sense that there are others that just blag it and make it up as they go along because it is an incredibly hard job.
Director’s are not just thinking about the lighting the sound and the narrative they are also try into to get performances out of people and there is also a technical element.
It’s like a creative job, being a mum, being a writer, being an editor and then doing all of those jobs all of the time in their head and it’s no wonder many of them are absolutely crazy. But Nigel was always open and he was always there with a smile and a kind word.
But more importantly he always gave you the sense that he knew the movie that we were making and so if you said to him ‘I think I should be playing this a bit more like this’ he would go ‘yeah but if you do it like that in two scenes time when we are there when would this moment happen for this character?’
And you would be like ‘oh yeah right, of course’ and as a novice I really needed someone who would hold me tenderly (laughs) and Nigel did that time and time again. He was just incredibly warm and supportive and a lot of the people on the set were likewise.
In fact it was such a lovely atmosphere, I cannot tell you how many times this happened, but visiting actors would take me to one side ‘you do realise that it is not normally like this? Normally a film set is a place of anguish with people screaming at each other.
‘Normally that is how they are and basically what you have got is as good as it gets first time out of the gate, so do enjoy it. Please don’t think that this is a normal working environment because if this goes well for you this is not how the rest of your career pans out (laughs).’
- You have mentioned the improvisation aspect of the film already so how did you find that?
I really love it. As a stand-up I made my career from comparing, so that is walking out with not knowing what you are going to say and just asking people what they do or where they are from or trying to pick apart a gang of people and see what the dynamic is and turn that into jokes.
So that was my heritage really, apart from the fact that I had been part of an improv troop. So I have done a far bit of that kind of thing but it is different doing that in a pub with a hundred people to thinking ‘Christ this is going to be on tape as part of a film that hopefully millions of people are going to watch’. So there is definitely and increased pressure when you are doing it on film.
More than anything when you are improvising you have to feel like it is a game and you have to feel like it is joyful because if you start to stress out about it obviously you are ruining if for yourself because that will read and people will be able to tell that you weren’t really enjoying yourself.
Even though I was aware that I was a rookie and not in any way the most experience or talented person in that gang you can’t turn up and be wracked with nerves about it you have to turn up and think ‘yes I know what I am doing here and it will all be absolutely fine’.
- Lucy Punch and Robert Webb are also on the cast list so what kind of set was it a fun set to work on?
It was just ridiculous fun. I can say any number of superlatives about both of them. But if you want to know about the spirit of the set we had a great gaffer, we had great props people and arts department - everyone who turned up on that set was just having a laugh.
Some people went through some big lifetime stuff; marriages ended and engagements were called off and yet there was a family environment where people could turn up and get a cuddle. So we really were a gang and it was a very fun gang to be a part of.
- You have found success in comedy and TV and now you have made this film so how much are movies an area of interest for you?
I have always had the philosophy of give things a go. See how they go. Work your arse off. Try your hardest and keep your fingers crossed. If this film does well then you know… basically it is a market and if you are in something that does well then your marketability goes up.
So if this movie does well then I assume that someone will offer me a crack of doing another one. If it doesn’t do well that maybe this is my lost shot at it but the one thing that I will never be down in the mouth about is how proud I am of it.
We set out to make something that I would have been happy to go and see at the cinema but because I am so close to it I cannot have any critical faculty as to where we got it right or wrong.
When I watched it I took me wife and trust me, if anyone has met my wife they will tell you, if it was rubbish she would be the first person to tell me - she does not sugar coat things.
She thinks that it is her job in life to stop me from being in anyway bigger than myself so she would have brought me right down to earth.
But when the credits rolled she had a tear rolling down her cheek and she just leant over and kissed me and said ’you should be very proud of yourself’.
So I set out to make something that I could be proud of and now it’s something that I want people to see - I promise anyone who does that that you are in for a really nice time.
It’s a really funny movie and it is not the same as any other wedding comedy it’s a proper laugh out loud, heart-warming British movie and if you go and see if you will feel better as a result.
- Finally what is up next for you?
Well One Man, Two Guvnors on a national tour. It is a fantastic show. It does require a lot of discipline for me and that is not traditionally my strong suit (laughs).
I am going to be taking one of the most successful plays of the last ten years out to the British people and in a time when I have never been prouder to be British the idea of getting the chance to go to the midlands, up to Scotland and over to Northern Ireland it feels like a very romantic thing to be able to do.
The Wedding Video is released 17th August
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