Cuban Fury is released on DVD & Blu-Ray today and sees Kayvan Novak star alongside Nick Frost, Chris O’Dowd and Ian McShane.
We caught up with Novak to chat about the film, working with first time filmmaker James Griffiths, and what lies ahead.
- Cuban Fury is about to be released on DVD, so can you tell me a bit about the film for anyone who hasn't seen it yet?
If you like a love story, if you like Nick Frost, Olivia Colman, Rashinda Jones, Chris O’Dowd and, most importantly, if you like me, then you will love Cuban Fury. Cuban Fury is a story about love and salsa dancing and me (laughs).
- You take on the role of Bejan in the film, so what was it about this character and the script that sparked your interest?
What I liked about the character of Bejan in the first version of the script that I read was that Bejan didn’t actually exist.
However, another guy who was Chinese existed in his place, and I thought ‘I would love to play this part, but I cannot play Chinese. Maybe I will play it a little bit different’. They liked the way that I did play it, and then the character of Bejan was born.
- That very much leads me into my next question. Bejan is very much the warm heart of this film but, as you have just said, he didn’t really exist in the script. So how much were you able to develop? And how much of that was a collaborative process?
That is a very good question. I was presented with the purpose of the character, what he needed to do, and where he fitted into Nick Frost’s character’s life. I just thought ‘if you are going to be that kind of character, then he has to have bags of energy and make him the funny foreigner’.
I then came up with more ideas about him - the Fanta for example - and the writer, director and Nick just totally embraced all of that. We just grew Bejan out of just an idea: my delivery, my accent, my energy was all there; it was just all about what he was going to say.
I guess I must have brought a certain amount of confidence to that process because I am used to developing my own characters: I have been doing it for six year. Character building is one of my favourite things to do.
To be able to go ’here is a character, do you like him?’ They are like ’yes, we love him’. And it is like great, green light, off you go. Therefore, I guess Bejan’s warm heart is a result of how much love he was received with when I was creating him during the time of the filming.
- Cuban Fury sees James Griffiths make his feature film directorial debut, so how did you find working with him as a first time filmmaker? And what kind of director is he?
He is a very warm, very generous director. Cuban Fury was a big production for a first time director to handle: I think it is very easy to become very stressful and for it to get the better of you.
However, he didn’t and he always had a wonderful temperament: having a great temperament is something that is very important for director. He also laughed at my jokes, which is even more important.
- Bejan meets Bruce - played by Nick Frost - at Salsa classes, so what kind of dance preparation did you do for this role? How much was that something that you really threw yourself into?
I didn’t do a lot of dance prep for the film: I think I had about six hours of lessons of all. I don’t really get to do that much dancing on screen.
I wasn’t there to convince audiences that I was a great dancer; I really had to convince the audiences that I was funny. Having said that, I witnessed some incredible dancing from the salsa community, they were awesome. They had an incredible energy. There were just good and positive vibes.
- You share some great moments with Nick Frost in particular, so how did you find developing the characters and scenes with him?
He was always there - all of my scenes were with him - and he really did give me lots of encouragement and suggestions. I think that the pair of us worked really well together, and I really would love to get the chance to work with him again on another project.
- Away from Cuban Fury, you have also completed work on The Last Sparks of Sundown, so can you tell me a bit about that film?
The Last Sparks of Sundown is like the pyjama men, and I play a weird guy called Seven: he is this random, weird eccentric killer dude - does he kill anyone? I can’t remember. It is great.
I did like two days filming on that, so I am not sure how the rest of the film has gone. I have seen the trailer for it, and it does look great. They were lovely guys and I really am looking forward to seeing that.
- Throughout your career, you have moved between TV & film work - and continue to do so - so how do you find moving between the two mediums? Would you prefer to move away from TV and focus more on film?
The hardest part between moving between the two mediums is the between bit: when you are working in neither film nor TV and you are scratching your head going ‘what is going on here?’ I am happy to straggle both TV and film, and long may it continue. This is one crazy business, oh yeah!!
I think a lot of funny people in TV do then go into film where they are less funny. Having said that, and judging by Cuban Fury, I was funny on TV and I am even funnier on film. Filmmakers get your fingers out your arse and put me in another one.
- As well as being in front of the camera, over the years we have seen you write, direct, and produce a series of projects - predominately in TV. How much is behind the camera something that interests you in film?
Very much so. I am very excited as I am currently developing a few film things: one is prank based and one is not. I would very much like to direct, star, perform, and just be a general auteur.
- Finally, what's next for you?
I will be appearing in a new BBC comedy with Bradley Walsh, which I will be filming this September. It is set to come out next year, and will be called Woody: I will be taking on the role of Woody. That is all I can tell you. It is very secretive.
Cuban Fury is out on DVD & Blu-Ray now.