Stephen Graham/Scrum Interview

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Stephen Graham/Scrum Interview

Post  Sparrowed on Thu May 19, 2011 10:36 am

STEPHEN Graham talks about reuniting with Johnny Depp on Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides and getting to jam with him at the end of the day.

He also reflects on his career since first appearing in Treasure Island at the age of 10 and why Scrum, his character in the movie, makes a refreshing change from playing psychos!

Q. I gather you were 10-years-old when you were in Treasure Island?
Stephen Graham: [Laughs] I was, yeah. I played Jim Hawkins when I was 10. It’s a long way, isn’t it, from some pretend sand and some pretend barrels that you made during art and craft.

Q. So, has it felt like quite a journey getting back to playing your next kind of pirate?
Stephen Graham: I suppose you’re right, actually… that’s a great question. The difference was that was in a school hall and we all had to makeshift a bit of sand and we all had barrels that we’d made out of paper mache, and then 20 years later there I am bouncing on a speedboat going towards this big massive ship in the middle of the sea just thinking: “Hang on, how did I get here? What’s all this about?”

Q. It must also be nice to be able to play a role that your children can see?
Stephen Graham: Yeah, it is, it’s lovely. They’ll have to watch it on DVD, or something, because they’re too young at the moment.

Q. You’ve described Scrum as the Artful Dodger of the pirate world. Was that part of the appeal of playing him?
Stephen Graham: Yeah, and it’s just great for me to not play a psycho for once. I haven’t got some big, intense issue going on in my head. He was just a joy of a character to play. Hopefully, I’ve made him slightly funny and hopefully he wins you over… you like him but you also think he’s a little shitbag really. But he’s a pirate at the end of the day! He goes where the money is, he goes where he can get a bit of dinner and at the end of the day he’s trying to make some jewels for himself.

Q. How has your relationship with Johnny Depp evolved since Public Enemies?
Stephen Graham: It’s great. We’ve become really close. It’s the second film we’ve done together and there’s talk of doing something else together again. But it’s an honour to work with him. He’s such a clever, funny, intelligent man and he’s brilliant. He’s just one of the lads, really, to be honest with you. He really is. He’s a top man. He’s a loving father, he’s a great husband and he’s just a top man.

Q. He speaks very highly of you too. I think after Public Enemies he said he wouldn’t do another film without you if he could help it, and that seems to be coming true…
Stephen Graham: Well, it seems to be going that way at the minute! Hopefully, he won’t get too bored of me! He probably will one day [laughs].

Q. How were you with the swashbuckling?
Stephen Graham: It was great fun. I jumped in feet first. I love anything physical like that and we put a lot of work into it. There were moments when you were thinking, ‘do I really need to do anymore’? But we did… every day we’d practise for two hours a day before we started shooting. But I really enjoyed it.

Q. And you get to strum a guitar…
Stephen Graham: I did, yeah! I’ve never played before and I have a mandola. But it was great because that was part of my audition as well! I had to sing a sea shanty and I was thinking at the time: “Why am I doing this?” But then I realised when I got the script that he’s a little musician, he likes his music. That’s the difference with him, though… I mean, he’s a proper pirate and all that but he has this little side where he really loves his music and stuff.

Q. A bit of a romantic…
Stephen Graham: Yeah, he is a romantic at heart. He’s looking for that ideal love and he nearly gets it!

Q. How was being seduced by a mermaid?
Stephen Graham: [Laughs] It was great fun. It was very cold in the middle of a huge tank on the lot in LA but it was great fun.

Q. Coming quickly back to the mandolin, did you get to jam at all with Johnny on the set? He’s a bit of a dab hand with the guitar…
Stephen Graham: Yeah, he taught me a couple of little riffs and stuff like that. I’ll never be able to play but I had a go and he taught me a few little riffs. He’s brilliant at slide guitar. He has this lovely guitar made out of cigar boxes of his and it just sounds brilliant. So yeah, we used to sit in his trailer when we finished work and have a little glass of wine… I’d watch him jam; I wasn’t really jamming with him [laughs].

Q. Were you around for Keith Richards being on set?
Stephen Graham: I was just one day. It was surreal meeting someone like that because you never think you’ll meet someone like that. He’s a top man as well.

Q. Do you ever get daunted by being alongside someone like that?
Stephen Graham: You know what, I didn’t really and then I realised… and this may sound really weird. But I met Steven Gerrard and my knees went. And the other night I met Victoria Wood and I was like [gasps]. I mean I’ve met Johnny Depp and people like that but Victoria Wood is a legend, she’s been in my house since I was… well, she hasn’t been round my house but on the telly. So, I was really weird meeting her the other day because I got all nervous. I don’t know why. Isn’t it weird how your mind works? But she was lovely.

Q. How has it been for you going from small productions such as This Is England to big Hollywood film sets such as Pirates of the Caribbean?
Stephen Graham: Well, I was saying before about the craftsmanship and the skill involved on Pirates and that’s like a dream world… the fantasy that they create for you is just unbelievable. It’s breathtaking when you first see it. But then in the same respect to come home and do This Is England with Shane [Meadows] and stuff, and then the TV series, there’s the same craftsmanship. So, I don’t know… I’ve been asked that question a lot but, to me, the job is exactly the same with the people around you. It’s how close as a unit you are and everyone is a piece of a jigsaw in my mind. It’s all a collaboration to me. And to be on two sets like that is amazing… I mean, the intensity of the way that Shane works. But with Pirates you can let your mind go a little bit and say to yourself: “Well, what if I was really a pirate?” So, you take your head into that.

Q. Would you come back for a Pirates 5?
Stephen Graham: Yeah, I’m still alive! I was playing the mandola on the ship in the last bit, so hopefully yeah. We’ll see what happens.

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