As we’ve mentioned previously, Julian Barratt has taken part in a series for Sky1 entitled Little Crackers, where you can see a handful of the best of British comedy talent, taking the directing reigns, each with their own tales of childhood high and lows.
Barratt tells the tale of his teenage ambitions of musical stardom and Paul Conway, a actor in his prime, has taken on the task of playing Young Julian. Our TVO reporter Paulyne caught up with Paul to have a chat about his career and working with Julian as a director.
How long have you been in the acting industry?
I’ve only graduated this year. But I’ve been acted for a bout 5/6 years, so I started as amateur and I started at 16 and 21 now so 5 years.
Did you have high expectations when you first started out?
There’s not really a way to explain it apart from it was unexpected. I did a feature film this year which comes out next year – and that was my lucky break even though it was a really small part.
When people in the industry see that name on your CV it brings more work. In acting I find that if you get one job you get another from it. When you’re working you just have a different aura about yourself.
How did you find out about the role? – Agent etc?
My agent got the casting breakdown. But I actually attend a workshop with the casting director.
Were you fan of the Boosh when the role became available?
I wasn’t actually. I’d heard of the Boosh and I’d seen bits of it and have friends that are really keen on it but I’d never really watched an episode!
What research did you to for the role?
I was on Youtube watching different things and I saw a lot of the songs. That’s something Julian seems to really love doing in any of his projects.
What was your thoughts on the project after you looked up the show?
Well before the audition we were told it was a comedy, but it was an understated comedy – which obviously is The Boosh. I sort of almost knew what to expect with my research but I did the research but the audtion just to get a better insight into what I should be doing.
What was the auditioning process like?
He [Julian] was in there in the recall, the first audition was just a general gathering of certain artists that had been noticed. You do your audition to camera, then that goes off to the producer, then I got a recall and that was when I met Julian.
Then after that one they’d cast myself and Alex who plays ‘Nick’ in the film. They were unsure who to cast for the others so we had to go in for the recalls even though we’d already been cast.
How do you think the audtion went?
It’s really hard to tell, when you walk out you never want to think ‘I nailed that’ because more often than not you haven’t. In this audtion I never really thought anything, then it was the next day that I got a recall so I was really happy with that.
Why do you think he picked you to play the part?
I went in with Alex and I guess it was the way we flowed with each other and fed each other lines. It just worked and he liked a lot of add-libbers too.
Julian is often described as coming across as “stand-offish”. What were your first impressions of him?
I knew he was a big name and that was quite exciting. When you’re an actor you meet quite lot of people that have done a lot of TV stuff and you feel almost Star-struck! But he was actually late for the audition, so when he came in he was sort of head down and ‘Sorry I’m late’ and straight into the room. You can get a character from him just from that – very quiet.
What would you say your relationship with him is like?
In the audtion him and the casting director were laughing quite a lot and I made a comment of ‘Are you watching something else’ and they went ‘Oh no it’s really funny’ , which was really nice to see in an audtion – you being appreciated there and then rather than waiting a few days to hear.
What was Julian like as a director? Strict, laid back etc?
As a director, I’ve got no bad points about him, I know that much. It was a lot like what I’m doing now, I want to get my words out but I’m not sure how to get it across. We had a workshop with all the cast where we rehearsed everything in a room and lot of the actors were getting out all the comedy and he likes to play with things and when he has an idea and we would have a suggestion, he would act it out and then say ‘actually split the difference’. It was helpful because he has been an actor himself. He could judge on what we’re thinking and where we could take it.
Did you feel a high amount of pressure playing a character which was being directed by the person it was based on?
I felt an enormous amount of pressure in that I didn’t want to say anything like; I would never say Julian’s a geek or anything but I couldn’t say anything like ‘He’s a bit geeky here’. I didn’t want to offend him. With the other actors they can make their own characters from it and Julian can like that. With me I’ve got to very much keep my character very minimal – in the film it comes across that I’m very quiet as Julian, whereas I’m quiet furious and to the point, but I had to keep it very ‘Julian’. You’re playing the director so you’ve got to be very careful about how you say something cause it’s only that person who knows.
Did you try to mimic his mannerisms?
In my audition, I went in for the part of ‘Nick’ so I did something of my own. So I just transferred some of the characteristics from Nick for Julian, rather than copying Julian’s characteristics after I’d already been cast. My opinion is that whatever you do in your audition should be what you do on set as that’s why they picked you.
He has a very dry humour and very quiet and to the point.
He’d just come out with one-liners and I can’t even give an example – he said on set he’d love to make a horror movie as he loves dark things. We’ve got him dressed as the Devil in this.
Barratt has mentioned that he had spent a portion of the shoot dressed as the devil for his cameo – did this effect the atmosphere on set and the way people approached/treated him?
We filmed his scenes on the last day so he was all deviled-up that day. It was a great costume, everything looked perfect and it was just really funny. I remember I was on set with him when he was dressed up and I had to stop myself from laughing every time I looked at him because he’d be talking to you really seriously like he would normally but at the same time he’d be dressed like a Devil wearing stilettos. Just really weird.