I Want Candy: Verve interview
TS from the forum came across this brilliant interview with Tom for Verve magazine, to promote the film I Want Candy. The transcript is here.
Maidstone's very own Tom Riley is soon to become a household name as he stars in the brand new comedy from Ealing Studios – I Want Candy. Set to be this year's juiciest British comedy, the film also features Hollywood pin-up Carmen Electra, Eastenders' star Michelle Ryan, and a host of Class A British comedy performers including MacKenzie Crook (Pirates Of The Caribbean I&II, The Office) and Jimmy Carr (Stormbreaker, 8 out of 10 cats).
I Want Candy follows two hopeful young men from Leatherhead trying to break into the movie-making world, who stumble upon the opportunity of a lifetime. Frustrated by the limitations of college and their pessimistic film tutor, London beckons for wannabe producer Joe (Tom Riley) and his talented but neurotic friend Baggy (Tom Burke). The pair pitch their feature-length love story, The Love Storm, to a number of studios, only to be met with instant rejection.
The key to their success lies in a quick re-write and recruiting porn legend Candy Fiveways (Carmen Electra) for the starring role. However, making a ground-breaking graduation film, complete with scenes of an adult nature, in your parents' house while they're out at work, was never going to be easy. Despite being about a porn star, the film still retains the feel of a mainstream family comedy. There's no filth, and it's written in such a light, witty and charming way, that you can't help but laugh out loud on numerous occasions.
Tom Riley, who plays the confident and likable young entrepreneur Joe in the film, had us laughing in the interview almost as much as on screen. After a viewing of the film in London, myself and Carrie caught up with Tom for a discussion on his memories of Maidstone, and how he went on to land the lead role in one of the biggest movies of 2007.
Ben: We've just seen the movie, was it a lot of fun to work on?
Tom: Yea it was great fun; it was just a really nice bunch of people. It was last summer when the World Cup was on, and everyone re-scheduled so we were shooting around matches, so it was just a laugh. A really nice bunch of people just making a stupid film. We all got on as really good mates so you try not to laugh on set all day. There are a lot worse things to do.
Carrie: I bet it's like being at college
Tom: It is a little bit yea, especially because we filmed some of it there, at Leatherhead College. We went there and these kids came up to us, they were maybe about 18 or 19, and they went "Are you s'posed to be the same age as us?!" And then they just walked off.
Carrie: What would your porn star name be? [Name of the first pet you had and your mother's maiden name]
Tom: Well technically it's the first pet you have and maiden name, but the way we do it in the movie is the name of your first pet and the road you grew up on. And mine… oh I can probably tell you because people know this street…
Carrie: Oh that's why we weren't gonna ask for a street…
Tom: I don't live there anymore, it's where I was born, I only lived there when I was 1. I've told people and they've just looked at me and gone… what? But my porn star name would be Biscuit Cripple. [Laughter]
Tom: Well I spent the first year of my life on Cripple Street, which is in Loose
Ben: Oh I've been to that street; it's near 'The Wheatsheaf' [pub] isn't it?
Tom: Yea by The Wheatsheaf… and my first cat was called Biscuit, so Biscuit Cripple.
Ben: That's a nice name
Tom: Specialist market I think
Carrie: I don't know if I'd pay to see someone called that
Tom: What would you pay to see?
Carrie: Oh I don't know [Laughter] Carrie: How did you get the role in 'I Want Candy?'
Tom: It was just a really long lengthy audition process. The producer said he saw every young actor in London, but I don't think that's true. They then paired people up. Obviously me and the other Tom [Tom Burke] had to play best friends, so they kept making lots of different pairs to see who worked the best together. They saw we had good chemistry and looked like we could be mates, so they stuck with us.
Carrie: So what else did you have to do in the audition?
Tom: You know the scene with the blow up doll in the movie… well that scene was maybe the second or third audition, but they didn't have a blow up doll, so I just had to improvise, just make up that there was a doll here. I remember coming out the audition and thinking 'what, the hell was that?' I just had to go… [acts out scene from the movie] …with nothing. I mean they were laughing, so I must have been doing something right.
Carrie: What's the strangest thing you've ever had to do in an audition?
Tom: Well that's pretty high actually. I did an audition for Napoleon for the BBC and the director went "OK, thanks very much for your time, now can you do a forward roll." I said 'What? Are you serious?' and he went "Yes I've set up this camera, and here's a crash mat, can you do a forward roll. I don't want to get out to Malta where we're filming this and discover the person I've cast as Napoleon can't do a forward roll…" Oh he did a lot of gymnastics did he, Napoleon? And he went "No, but he's a fighter." So I had a big jacket on, and boots, and I did it. But it was very strange. I was thinking, this is gonna crop up somewhere on late night television
Ben: What was it about the script that really made you want to be in this movie?
Tom: Just when you read something, and you're laughing just reading it. You don't think 'oh I could make that funny by doing that, or this funny by doing that', you just go 'this is funny', I don't need to do anything unless it's been written here in the line. And that's when you think ok this could work, this could make people laugh. That was where I said ok I wanna do this. You see a lot of comedies where you go 'I could do a silly voice here' or I could do something else, but this just felt like it was funny from the start.
Ben: Did you know anything about who was going to appear in the cast before you signed up?
Tom: No idea at all. They were talking to Carmen for a long time. They wanted Carmen but they weren't sure they were going to get her I think. And that wasn't definite untill about 2 weeks before we started.
Ben: What was it like working with Carmen Electra?
Tom: Great, she's very cool. Ben: What's she like in real life? Tom: Just completely non-starry. People who are that famous have this aura about them where you go "[to the side] Oh-my-God, Carmen Electra, I've seen her in FHM", but it's only because they have that aura that you treat them like that. When actually, it took Michelle [Ryan] to go up to her and say "Do you fancy a pint?" and Carmen went "yea!" We all sat down and after that is was really easy. Very easy-going, cool, and un-starry.
Ben: You come from Maidstone, which is where our magazine is based; do you have any fond memories of Maidstone?
Tom: Well the floral sheep is my favourite memory. I mean I've literally spent my entire life, from 1 till 18, in Maidstone, so all my memories are in Maidstone, awful ones and fond ones as well. I can't really pick out any unless they're just memories from my life, just my whole life has been… in Maidstone! I remember I worked in the Our Price on Week Street for about 3 years before it shut down. And then I worked in Project Blue…
Carrie: I went there the other night…
Tom: Well I worked there for 3 years, and the manager there, Kevin, was so good to me. He gave me money to help me through drama school after I'd left. He just had faith in me, because I couldn't afford to go, so he kind of invested in me. So yea, tell everyone to go to Project Blue! Put it in the window, great food, great atmosphere… [Laughter]
Ben: …staff who will fund your career
Tom: Yea exactly [Laughter]
Ben: Where did you go to school in Maidstone?
Ben: Oh I was Oakwood Park… [rival schools] [*Waves Fist*]
Tom: Oh you were Oakwood Park? I went to Loose Junior School first, and then Maidstone, I did sixth form stuff at MGS.
Ben: The role of Joe looks like it was a fun part to play. Is comedy something you'd like to carry on doing?
Tom: Yes, I mean I haven't done comedy before, like this. I spend a lot of time being casted as 'intense young man' and doing scary stuff like crying and ripping my heart out. But this is the kind of a part where you just get to mess about and cover yourself in butter… [laughter] …you know, in the sun with Carmen Electra, you just think, well that's not bad for 6 weeks work. So yea it was good fun.
Ben: So comedy is something you'd like to keep on with…
Tom: Yea definitely, we'll do a follow up to I Want Candy, called I Want Ghandi, where they're trying to get Ben Kinsley to be in a film [laughter] Tom: No that's not real I made it up
Ben: What do you prefer, comedy or serious roles?
Tom: It's completely different. I don't prefer one or the other. Comedy is a more fun set to be on, but for some reason in the industry, people look down on it a bit more. Comedy never wins an Oscar, but comedy is harder. It's harder to make people laugh. And a lot of the time when you're doing serious stuff, if you feel great at the end of it, then it's worked, (because of the pain, and I'm crying so it's obviously great). Where as in comedy, if other people think it's funny, then that dictates whether it works or not. So actually that can be a harder thing to do. You get different satisfaction from different things. You get satisfaction for yourself from doing serious acting, which is why so many actors want to be serious, and why a lot of comedy actors say 'I'm going to be serious now'. You know people don't respect them but they should.
Carrie: What do you like to do on your days off?
Tom: Because this can be so hectic, and the hours are absolutely nightmarish, it can take it's toll on your social life a bit, so it's just nice to catch up with people, and old friends, and just sit in. Watch a DVD, have a pizza, and see your mates and your girlfriend, have a good time y'know.
Carrie: Well that sounds like a good night
Tom: Yea it's nice because you can just relax and not worry about it all. Sit around in your pants and you know no-ones looking at you anymore
Ben: That's what you do at work as well though isn't it? [Laughter]
Tom: Yea I do that at work as well, of course, a-ha nicely done
Ben: Are there any other big names you'd like to work with?
Tom: Yes there's loads, I've got a clock on my wall In my bedroom, a blackboard clock. About two years ago I wrote down a list of names of people that I wanted to work with, and I thought I'd just wipe them off one by one... Haven't worked with one of them. So, I'll give you the clock, and you can just copy that out.
Ben: Do you have any projects lined up for the future?
Tom: There's a movie coming out in a couple of months called A Few Days in September which is with Juliette Binoche and John Turturro, and I play Nick Nolte's son. An American part playing an American guy, and it's a 9/11 conspiracy thriller, so it's a complete world away.
Ben: Still enjoyable though…
Tom: Yea it's a lot more artsy and its very beautifully shot, but yes it's great, I'm very proud of it and I hope it does well. I don't think it'll get such a wide release as this, because this film has obviously got a wider audience potentially. Also I did a horror film for Warner Brothers that's coming out this year - Return to House on Haunted Hill. "[Voiceover-man voice] New group of people go into the house."
Carrie: What sorts of films do you like watching?
Tom: I have a real thing for little indie American movies, like Little Miss Sunshine or Sideways or that kind of stuff. Really quirky characters and great writing. I just love the writing.
Carrie: If you weren't acting, what do you think you would be doing?
Tom: I don't know if I would be doing it, but I might have been a Chef. I really like cooking. So I think that's what I'd want to do if I wasn't acting, I'd try and find my way into that. Or a journalist, but I doubt that'll happen…