shadows features Blurring the clown-straightman thing
James Corden and Mathew Horne talk up Lesbian Vampire Killers...
at the london premiere

lesbian vampire killers
Above: with Paul McGann in Lesbian Vampire Killers
Below: with Joanna Page and Ruth Jones in Gavin & Stacey and with Kylie Minogue at the Brits
gavin & stacey
the brits 2009

corden with the history boys
Corden with the History Boys (above) and Horne with Catherine Tate (below)
horne with catherine tate

B Y    R I C H    C L I N E
marley and me James Corden and Mathew Horne are everywhere in Britain at the moment. As they prepare a new series of their Bafta-winning sitcom Gavin & Stacey, they recently hosted the Brit Awards, they're on TV with a sketch show and in cinemas with one of the most promisingly titled films of the year, Lesbian Vampire Killers. Corden comes into this with a background in theatre and film (The History Boys), while Horne cut his teeth in acting school and on The Catherine Tate Show.

Are comedy and horror difficult to splice together?
Totally. As an actor, it's very difficult to know where to pitch it in certain scenes: if you are being attacked by a vampire, yes. As an actor, you think that's a scary, frightening thing. My life is in danger! But also you want to make people laugh, so it's about how to make that feel funny, and that's what's really exciting about this job. Because you can come on set every day and try stuff out, try different ways of doing it. If people laugh then that's probably the response you go for.

How did you get involved with this film?
It started about two years ago, a year and a half, before any of our fame - if that's the right word - kicked in. Actually, I don't feel I'm famous in any way at all. But it was around then; Gavin & Stacey hadn't been on. We'd shot it but it hadn't been aired yet. Then for one reason or another the film didn't happen. Then a wonderful producer called Steve Clark-Hall picked the script up and that changed everything. It suddenly picked up momentum. Literally, picked up Momentum [as a financier and distributor] and it went on from there.

So if you weren't yet famous, did you have to audition?
I went and read for it. So did a lot of other people. I don't mean this in any arrogant way, but I read it and thought, "If I don't get this, I should probably give up," because it just feels the sort of part I want to do. It's the sort of comedy that I really like. It requires energy and enthusiasm that I love doing, a complete commitment. My comedy heroes are people like Jim Carrey, Jack Black and Will Ferrell - men who make you laugh through sheer no-holds-barred kind of humour. Instead of jumping over hurdles, they simply run through them!

Obviously, it’s very much an Academy Award film

Did they cast you as a double-act?
No, not for this. I'd been attached for quite a long time to this film and when you read it, it seems like it was written for us. It really does. There's no denying that we work incredibly well together. We just do. It's great fun. It feels like the right thing for us to do. I don't think this a partnership that means that we'll work together for the next 60 years, but we might work together for the next six.

How do you work together in this film?
It's about a relationship between two men and, comedically, it's about their vernacular, the type of banter that one has with a good friend. It's about dialogue, and there's slapstick, which is also intrinsically involved in the gore and the effects. It feels like it has a little of a sitcom feel, a bit of silent film and a bit of classic buddy movie there.

James: Me and Mathew play two guys who go camping to get away from things that have been happening to them in London and end up, they think coincidentally, in this town. When they get there, they end up being chased by lesbian vampires and they end up being lesbian vampire killers. Obviously, it's very much an Academy Award film.

How do you combine work with friendship?
There's no point sitting at home and writing sketches and emailing them to each other. You just have to hang out. It sounds like an excuse, just hanging out, but it really is not, and this is why we are able to do this film really. Strictly speaking, we should be in an office writing our sketch show. But if we are working together, it's the best environment, because not only do you get to interact with each other and create new ideas, we can also test them out on people around us. We make each other laugh, and if one other person laughs and gets it, it's in.

I think I’m funny in a different way to James’ funny

Is there a straight man-funny man dynamic between the pair of you?
Yes, although there's a certain dynamic set up whereby - I don't quite know how to put it, really, as I don't quite know what it is - but I think I'm funny in a different way to James' funny. That's all I can tell you. I have quite a bit of slapstick, so it's not as simple as one of us does that and one does witty banter. It's funny in different ways. It's clown-straightman, but more blurred. I don't know what it is yet; it's still evolving. And when we do our sketch show it will evolve even more. I think by the end of that, I'll probably know exactly what it is and I'll be able to put it in good media sound bites for you! At the moment it's "a clown and a straight man, and some blurring!"

Back to the movie - are these regular vampires?
I guess their vampire traits are the same, in that they like to suck blood from people and they come out at night, but they are the most vamped-up vampires you've ever seen! They can be killed in the same way, yes, with silver bullets, holy water, staked through the heart. We've got a great scene with holy water coming out from a shower. That's a favourite.

There's apparently an angry group of lesbians petitioning against the film.
I think that was inevitable, and my simple argument for them is that - and I don't take them too seriously, maybe I should - it can also be read as a feminist text movie, because they are strong women. We are dumped and ditched by strong women and we were attacked by strong women, and these are strong women who can destroy men and want to destroy mankind! So the flip side of it is that it is a feminist text. All my female friends and all of my friends just burst out laughing when they hear the title. I think it's a really exciting title and think it makes people want to see it.

Clearly, it's a male fantasy.
Of course it panders to the male fantasy, but it is done with tongue in cheek, so to speak, and it also panders to the lesbian fantasy of course. And even straight girls often much prefer looking at other girls, strangely enough, than to other men, so they'll be fine as well. All sectors are dealt with!



© 2009 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall