Thursday, 10 October 2013

Small Roles, Big Impact - #2 - An interview with Tony "Get in the back of the van!!!" Wise

Withnail & I, directed and based on an unpublished book by Bruce Robinson is unbelievably 26 years old! But with it's one liners and impeccable performances, it still resonates among film fans and critics all over the world.

The main plot follows two unemployed young actors, Withnail and “I” (portrayed by Richard E. Grant and Paul McGann) who live in a squalid flat in Camden Town in 1969. Needing a break, they obtain the key to the country cottage in the Lake District belonging to Withnail’s flamboyantly gay Uncle Monty and drive there. The holiday is less recuperative than they expected.

It has gained cult status and can regularly be found in the top 100 critics choices of best films, not bad for a small budget movie with only a handful of cast members and a flimsy plot.

It also has to be one of the most quoted films of all time and has websites dedicated to not only a Withnail drinking game (The game consists of keeping up, drink for drink, with each alcoholic substance consumed by Withnail over the course of the film.All told, Withnail is shown drinking roughly nine and a half glasses of red wine, half a pint of cider, one shot of lighter fluid (vinegar or overproof rum are common substitutes), two and a half shots of gin, six glasses of sherry, thirteen glasses of whisky and half a pint of ale) but to just the quotes... From "Monty you terrible C***" to "I feel like a pig s*at in my head" and of course "Get in the back of the van!" screeched by Retro LadyLands guest of the week this week, Tony Wise.

When you got your script was it you or Bruce Robinson who decided on the delivery? 
"He just told me to shout the line."

What was Bruce Robinson like as a director? And The rest of the wonderful cast as actors?
"Only on set for 3 hours, including costume fitting. all a bit rushed . Bruce Robinson was quite friendly."

How many takes did you have to do?
"6 or 7"

Did you try it in different ways?
"Bruce Robinson told me to bring it down a bit!"

That was toned down?

Did you corpse? 
"Richard E Grant corpsed every take that's why so many."

How many times do you hear people screech your line when they realise that it was you? 
"A few I suppose."

How does it make you feel that people still think of you and your line when ever thinking about Withnail and I? How does it feel just to have been in such an amazing film?! 
"I don't known they are thinking of me so it never occurs to me. Do they really? Feels a bit cool I supposed. Street cred with young people!"
Have you ever played the Withnail drinking game? 

When was the last time you watched Withnail?
"13 years ago in 2000 when Richard e had a charity showing of it in Leicester sq to raise money for his school in Lesotho. My Oscar moment. All cast went on stage after. Props and costumes were auctioned off. Fans rushing forward for my autograph etc, then half an hour later back to obscurity!"

Did you have any idea what a phenomenon it was going to be?
"Not at all. Don't think anyone did..."

What do you think of the Swede Mason mix of you?
"Yes I have , someone said it has had over 250,000 hits. Think its good and quite funny."

What do you write on your CV about the part? Have you ever got a part (or anything) because of the kudos of your appearance in Withnail?
"I just add it onto my credits in a list. Have got acres jibs/interviews out of it, mainly fringe jobs from young directors who love with nail. Agents and casters don't seem impressed."

Well, that was short and  sweet... Like the role he played... Although that was more short and shouty...

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