Saturday, December 01, 2012

United Kingdom Actor and Director Simon Phillips Discusses His Role in Jack Says, The Last Seven, and GBH: An Interview

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Simon Phillips is a United Kingdom based actor. Phillips has appeared in over 30 films in a short period of time. This actor has also worked with many well known castmates including Tamer Hassan (Layer Cake), Danny Dyer (Doghouse), Mark Hamill (Star Wars), Vincent Regan (Lockout) and the up and comer Adam Deacon (Kidulthood). He has trained in drama in London. Recently, Phillips produced his first film, GBH, as director. GBH was a crime thriller set during the 2011 London riots.

This very busy student of the creative arts will continue his acting career with several more upcoming features. Phillips is already set to appear in a number of features. Phillips is in production on The Hooligan Wars, The Fall of the Essex Boys, U.F.O., White Collar Hooligan 2: England Away and several other films.

In this interview, Phillips talks about his first film as director, the challenges of the Jack trilogy and his upcoming features. Fans can have a read below.

(Michael Allen) Simon, I was introduced to your work in 2008 with Jack Says. This film was a neo-noir crime thriller and you played the protagonist Jack. This title was the first film of a trilogy, with Jack Said and Jack Falls rounding out this trio of films. What were some of the challenges that you faced early in your career with Jack Says?

(Simon Phillips) "I think we faced every challenge imaginable over the course of producing those three films; they were very much what we cut our teeth on in terms of film production. The films took three years to complete, but it was wonderful to be a part of something with such a big scope in terms of story and the fantastic talent we had to support it. For me, it was my first leading role. So the pressure was quite immense, but I was very pleased to see that I enjoyed all the films and the last one especially! Jack Falls seemed to be the perfect end, meaning: I left the trilogy feeling very satisfied with the journey."

(MA) For some reason, your film The Last Seven really stands out in my mind. This film had similarities to another film, 28 Days Later. The streets of London were empty and there was this isolated or dark mood that came from the feature. The characters Henry (John Mawson), Chloe (Daisy Head), Jack (Tamer Hassan), William (Phillips), Isaac (Ronan Vibert), Isabelle (Rita Ramnani) and Robert (Sebastian Street) were each trapped together in a type of purgatory. They were connected through a similar event. Can you give me and the readers some insight as to what was happening in this film? Were they all actually in purgatory?

(SP) "Yes, I guess you could say they were trapped between this world and the next. They were fighting for their lives in the aftermath of an explosion that they could not remember. They wandered around whilst clues of their past and their connections came to light. I have always loved this kind of story and the process of making something this big in an empty London was wonderful.

Our Director of Photography, David Mackie, did a fantastic job of making the city look empty, whilst our wonderful sound design team completed the experience giving London a very eerie feel. This was one of my favourite projects."

(MA) Who did you find you collaborated best with on The Last Seven?

(SP) "I probably enjoyed working with the Director of Photography, David Mackie, the most. He is simply a charming man and a very talented cinematographer. He had previously worked on the Harry Potter films. But, I also enjoyed working with the composer Matthew Williams, who gave us a score and sound design. He helped complete the whole process."

(MA) Now, Bonded by Blood was the next film that I saw you in during 2010. You played Officer Tolands. This seemed to be a minor part. Yet, in most of your films, you have played the central character (Jack Says, Jack Said). Which do you prefer playing: minor characters or major ones? Or, do you like a combination of the two?

(SP) "As an actor, you must play the roles given to you. In Bonded By Blood, producer Terry Stone offered me a small part because I happened to be shooting The Last Seven at the time of production. So, my schedule only allowed for a few days off. Both of these films were shot at exactly the same time.

I love all the elements of acting: supporting roles or leading roles. It is the script and the director that is attached to the film that interests me by far. I hope to work on many more films in the future in both big and small parts. It's just wonderful to be involved in lots of exciting work; it is a kind of way to immortalize yourself!"

(MA) Recently, you completed your first directing project titled GBH. In this feature, you cover the London Riots from 2011 from a police perspective. The lead, Damien (Nick Nevern), is caught in the middle of this conflict and many others. I actually really enjoyed this film, but I have a question; did you base Damien on people from the constabulary? Damien has this rough outer exterior and a hard living way involving: drinking, fighting and womanizing. His portrayal feels accurate and I am wondering how you researched this role.

(SP) "I lived in Ealing at the time of the London riots in 2011 and I saw most of the anarchy first hand. When the script came to me from James Crow I was initially looking at the project as something that I may like to take a leading role in. However, after reading the script, I felt there was not anything quite right for me as an actor (not wanting to play another police officer after the Jack trilogy). So, I decided that I would step behind the camera and direct my good friend Nick Nevern in the lead role. This experience was a wonderful first time directing for me as most of the cast and crew were people I had worked with on other projects. It was lovely that they all supported my debut!"

(MA) There have been at least three films that have dealt with the notorious Essex gang: The Essex Boys(2000), Rise of the Foot Soldier (2007) and Bonded By Blood (2011). You actually starred in Bonded By Blood as mentioned. Now, you are starring in a fourth film dealing with these notorious drug dealers titled The Fall of the Essex Boys. I am really surprised to learn that there is a fourth film in the works based on this material. Why is there is so much interest in these real life criminals? And, how will director Paul Tanter look at this material differently compared to these previous films?

(SP) "Paul has taken a really different take on the events of that fateful night and I am sworn to secrecy on the details. But, I think part of the reason it is such an evergreen story is because people are not sure what happened that night. And somewhat like a Jack the Ripper theory, it seems to interest people.

It is certainly not a fun film, but it is very dark and I hope it will be a big success."

(MA) Simon, you are also scheduled to star in the upcoming White Collar Hooligan 2: England Away, which is a sequel to The Rise & Fall of a White Collar Hooligan. You will be reteaming with actor Nick Nevern (GBH) in this production. The first film dealt with corruption, crime and the problems of unemployment. Your character embraced the seedier side of life. I know you cannot say much about your upcoming roles. But, will your character, Eddie, continue to find himself wrapped up the criminal underworld, or will he find some sort of redemption, in this sequel?

(SP) "We've actually just wrapped on White Collar Hooligan 2: England Away, which was really fun. It was like having a reunion with old friends. The first film was such fun to make, despite the dark subject matter. And, it was a very big success in the UK. So, a sequel was always on the cards here.

Our follow-up film takes us to 18 months after the climatic events of the first film. Nick's character is living in Spain under witness protection and I have disappeared off to New York City, which was a great experience. Eventually, we find ourselves back home in London to face up to the consequences of everything we have done before. It's darker than the first film and much bigger in scope. But, it was lovely to work with Nick Nevern, Rita Ramnani and Peter Barrett again."

(MA) Are there any upcoming projects that you really want your fans to know about? Or, do you have any final words for your fans?

(SP) "We are actually just about to release a big feature film entitled U.F.O., which I am starring in along side Jean Claude Van Damme. I grew up on his films like: Timecop, Double Impact, and Universal Soldier. So, it was great to be doing a film with him. It's out on Christmas Eve this year. So, we are very much looking forward to what people think of it all."

(MA) Thanks Simon for talking about all of your projects today.

(SP) Thank-you!

The trailer for U.F.O. is here:

The U.F.O. Trailer on Youtube

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