Monday, July 8, 2013

Rough Transcript From The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy Q&A

This is a rough transcript from a very nice lady who attended the Q&A yesterday. As it is only a rough transcript and she's worried that there may be some misinterpretation. I'm going to respect her and only post up what I think is the highlights of the entire session. =) For full transcript, please leave a comment or drop me a word on my Twitter or e-mail me at

Hosting the Q&A was Dan Slevin, a film critic for Fishhead, a monthly glossy magazine.

What did you gain most from going to drama school?

Being around a group of others my age. Forty others. Learning about technique and voice projection.  The first term was about breathing. (Martin then demonstrated “breathing”). Try explaining that to people with real jobs; that you are breathing for your [student] grant!

So, you then had forty contemporaries going out to get work. How was that? What was the worst job you had to take before you got acting roles?

Never had to do anything else. Didn’t get my BA. Left early to go into several plays at the National Theatre.

Out of the other 39, a few have done okay. (Note: he didn’t mention any by name). After about ten years, high percentage would have given up. It’s a tough game.  After two years [without success] they might ask ‘should I be doing this?’

Do you watch yourself in your films when you catch them [on tv]?

Something involving me?! I’ll be up all night (laughs).

You have a following on the internet (Martin interrupts: The what?!!) Does this confuse you?

Scares me – not confuses me! I’d rather be liked than hated. Not fully my bag. I’m a fan of things but [some] people seem to literally do nothing else but be on the internet. It’s flattering and terrifying. I’m delighted if people like me on the internet or in (pauses) person (then pauses again) or in the ether! (Much laughter).

Host: Who were you a fan of growing up?

Michael Caine, Al Pacino, Tom Courtenay. 50s and 60s British film; the coming of age of British film-making. (Martin realises he has no women on list). You’ll probably say I hate women now!

What was the favourite role of your career?

There will be roles in the future I will adore. The Office; got distance over ten years now. I love that role. I love John Watson. I leave here next week to go back to do that show (burst of applause at this).

Played Rembrandt in a film no-one’s seen. Nice role in Love Actually. Not extremely pleasant being nude but great when you have funny dialogue. (Host talked about being a porn star until Martin reminded him he a) wasn’t a porn star in the film and b) there were kids in the crowd).
What was the hardest scene to film in Hitchhikers?
When the Vogons were shooting at us; they were using real pellets. We had CGI, but those were real pellets. And we had pyrotechnics going off. Zooey Deschanel got whacked in the back with one pellet; got a pellet-sized bruise in the back. I was genuinely terrified; genuinely scared. I’m a big fan of pretending. As Arthur I had to pretend to be terrified because of X,Y,Z but I, Martin, was really terrified.

You played Ricky C in the Ali G film; how much was ad lib?

(Martin began by explaining Sacha Baron Cohen’s Ali G persona, doing a pretty good gangsta impression of Cohen’s character!).  Went from something Sacha is brilliant at…to a screenplay that’s not great. It was humour that fell between two stools.

I feel like this has to be asked. Aside from Benedict who would you turn gay for?

(Ponders…) Bill Nighy seems like a nice bloke. We could go shoe shopping and talk about soul music. I’m not giving you any more ammo with Benedict to take back to this internet thing! (Laughs).

I want to ask about the film trilogy you have recently worked on... the Cornetto trilogy. What was the experience like working with Edgar Wright?

Good to be given more than one scene (as he had in the previous films before World’s End). I was always being mistaken for Simon Pegg earlier in my career, and him for me. We’re good mates. Simon is godfather to my son. These are good people; funny people.

You can see pain and joy on his [Edgar’s] face. He takes film very seriously. Pain will be etched onto his bearded face! But he’s very funny.

We’re [the cast] the back-up singers to Simon – who will be brilliant in it.

What was it like to shoot The World's End coming off The Hobbit with all its green screen? 

The percentage of sets that were weird that we could touch was less. I wouldn’t want everything to be like something I’ve done.

Do you play any instruments; what's your hobby?

Used to play music. Bit like a eunuch in a harem, my talent didn’t match my ambition! Melody wise I’m okay. I can sing a bit.

Host: Are you a dancer? 

I can move, baby! Great enthusiasm for soul music. Grew up singing along to punk music – Pistols, The Clash, The Buzzcocks. Didn’t get all the lyrics at five! Enraged my Dad.
What technique do you use to act; do you use The Method?
Not overtly; loosely, what we all do as a base.  Consider how you feel about stuff? How would I react? This is how the character would, as at least one person on Earth (me) would react that way, if not thousands more. Character is important for the truth; put this above walking with a limp and the French accent. 

And so, the Q&A was almost at a close. The host asked for the final, ultimate question; and it was….

How do you take your tea?

Milk and one sugar. I like it a light bronze. (So, he didn’t get to answer: 42)

With that, an entertaining evening was over. Martin was whisked away by his Hobbit people, along with Adam Brown (Ori from the Hobbit) who had also been in the audience. There was no meet and greet after the Q&A for photos, autographs or chat. For that, we’ll have to chance our luck at next weekend’s The World’s End NZ premiere at another Wellington landmark cinema, the Embassy.