Interview with Simon Phillips

February 7, 2012

To mark yesterday’s release of ‘How to Stop Being a Loser’ on DVD, WhatDVD.Net caught up with one of the stars of the film, British actor Simon Phillips. Gill Critchley spoke to Simon about his experiences making the movie, as well as his acting career and upcoming film projects.

Simon Phillips

Gill: Okay first question, and quite an important one – do you like cheese in real life?

Simon: Ooh (laughs). Who doesn’t like cheese in real life? One of the script writers actually said to me have you ever met somebody that doesn’t like cheese? I was like no, do you know what, I haven’t. It’s just one of those things you don’t not like.

Gill: No, I know. I think I’m the same. I’ve not met anyone that doesn’t like it (laughs).

Simon: So yes I’m a big cheese fan.

Gill: Okay, so the film’s about James, a sort of misfit character – could you pick up on or relate to anything from when you were at school or something like that, to be able to draw on for the film?

Simon: Totally, if only I could answer that question Gill and tell you I couldn’t relate myself to anything and it was a complete… that I had to resort to other people. Sadly, I think there are moments I think in everybody’s life when you just… you know when you just really mess things up?

Gill: Yes.

Simon: And at school, and perhaps in the modern day, more recently… I am one of these wrong place wrong time people. You know, I would literally just open my mouth, its things, it often bad luck, just bad luck things really. What are the odds of me doing that? But no I’m afraid that’s me all over wrong place, wrong time.

Gill: I know the feeling.

Simon: Yes, it happened to me once on a date you know, I took a girl out when I was at school, my first date. I was 16 – terrified, obviously.

Gill: Yes, sure.

Simon: You know there was a lot of pressure on this first date, it took me six months obviously to ask this girl out on a date with me, who clearly wanted to go out within a month. I got on to this first date with her and went to the cinema, got the coke and the popcorn and I literally spilt it everywhere because I squeezed the cup too hard. I literally spilt the entire coke and the popcorn on top of her.

Gill: On top of her (laughs)!

Simon: And at the beginning of the film, we had just gone into the theatre, bless this girl. She obviously sat there like that for two hours and watched the movie because she didn’t want to leave. You know, on your first date at 16 get up and leave and say look I’m so sorry. Obviously we dabbed her down with tissues and stuff like that.

Simon Philliips and Sheridan Smith

Gill: Yes.

Simon: Worst date ever and you can imagine what my nickname at school was after that! But anyway it was one of those things I thought I’m never going to recover from this. But anyway I got a bit chewed up about that date, never mind that I messed it all up!

Gill: (laughs) yes. Did you see her again?

Simon: Yes. Well no, I saw her in school on Monday which was the awkward thing.

Gill: Ooh (laughs).

Simon: At which point everybody in the whole year knew the story, laughing, ha-ha very funny.

Gill: Yes, it’s never the good things that get around is it? It’s always the bad ones.

Simon: Yes exactly.

Gill: So what appealed to you in this film? What made you want to make this film?

Simon: I tell you what – I must be brutally honest. I’d done a lot of things beforehand like gangster films, crime films or something along those lines and the idea was to wear a leather jacket and look as cool as possible, and this film is so not that. They were like… you know, I’m a prankster and I must admit I do enjoy messing things up. And literally the director of Jack Falls, which was the last serious film we did, was the same director of another film and he said I need to get you in a comedy mate, you’re wasted on this.

Gill: (Laughs)

Simon: Honestly the idea was just to be as stupid as possible and get paid for it really. Awkward.

Gill: Yes, yes.

Simon: Sort of my dream job and with a bunch of people as well, a bunch of awesome people, I don’t know… like Richard E Grant you know, Jeridan Smith, Gemma Atkinson and Craig Conway.

A right set, just winding each other up all the time.

Gill: Yes, did you get to see much of Richard E Grant?

Simon: Yes, for about a day actually, we did a little bit together. It didn’t actually make the cut, but anyway, I had to be there to take some of the photos that they had to have of me and him together. I mean he’s just a wonderful guy, he obviously takes it really seriously. Whereas I’m a bit more of a joker, he thinks of things a bit more and is reserved, but he just embodies those kind of things and he loved it.

Gill: Okay great! Lovely, thank you. I was actually going to ask you about Jack Falls and some of the more action type films that you’ve been in. Which sort of genre do you prefer then after doing this film?

Simon: I prefer the comedy, I must admit. There’s nothing like it, I have so much fun when I’m on set, normally because on long days you need to, but on a film where that’s what your trying to get on film as well, it’s so much more helpful. Because you know everyone’s there with the same thing, but it’s very difficult to do that. I did a film last year called Ghosted which was a prison drama, which was about men getting raped in prison; it’s so hard to have fun on that set.

Gill: Yes, I bet!

Simon: You know, the experiences with the director was great, but it was kind of… everything was really heavy every day. Whereas with this film we went to work and they would keep the cameras rolling and say just be as funny as possible and don’t worry you can’t look too stupid. It was just a better energy to come to work with. You know last year I did something with Mark Hamill who was from Star Wars…

Gill: Right.

Simon: It was a complete dream, it was a film set on an aeroplane…

Gill: Oh right, was that Airborne?

Simon: Yes Airborne, that’s coming out later this year. And then Dom gave me he a job. He was lovely – he’s going to be on commission soon. He put me in this other film with Jean-Claude Van Damme you know.

Simon Phillips and Gemma Atkinson

Gill: Oh yes.

Simon: These action stars, you know like Luke Skywalker, all people I grew up with. So I do love doing some of the other stuff for different reasons.

Gill: What was it like working with Mark Hamill?

Simon: Oh Mark’s brilliant, he’s an absolute gentleman and just so down-to-earth he really is, it’s just amazing. I get lost, every time he’d be doing a scene I’d be like ooh Luke Skywalker!

Gill: (Laughs) Yes!

Simon: And I’d loose it and be like sorry mate I totally got held up, but you couldn’t not be like that. Every time he’d have this glint in his eye and be like Luke Skywalker.

Gill: Yes, it takes you back to the films…

Simon: …and he loves films, all things film. Not just ones he’s in but other ones too. He brings it up. He’d be like ‘hey you want to hear a great Harrison Ford story from Star wars?’ I just died.

Gill: Of course! Okay, so what do you think was you favourite part of How to Stop Being a Loser, were there any scenes that stuck out for you?

Simon: I really enjoyed everything I did with Gemma Atkinson and Craig Conway, I had a fantastic time with both of those guys. All my scenes with them were as fun as it seems. I must admit the thing that makes me laugh – and it’s not usually me on screen – I’m not that vain unfortunately… my favourite scene has got to be Stephanie Leonidas and Gemma Atkinson, the bit where she throws… have you seen the film?

Gill: I have yes.

Simon: You know when she throws the photo out of the frame?

Gill: Yes, yes.

Simon: And Steph says ‘yes that’s his dead best friend’, and Gemma Atkinson says, ‘oh I didn’t know he was dead’! And Steph has to remind her that she was at his funeral! It gets me very time. I don’t know what it is, but it gets me every time. Colin the psychiatrist… someone asked me what the funniest part in the film was and I said Colin.

Gill: Yes, that was a fantastic twist at the end!

Simon: I knew it was coming obviously, but the performance of the whole movie just gets weirder and weirder as it goes along. It’s hilarious because I know the punch lines as well.

Gill: Yes, you sort of think at the end: I should have guessed that as it was going along!

Simon: Yes I mean in the film that’s the biggest, longest joke because it’s the cheesiest from beginning to end.

Gill: Yes, because in the scene where Gemma Atkinson throws the photo away, she keeps referring to Patch as Pitch over and over again…

Simon: Loads of little things come up on set like that. Dom was great in that way. You’d get the script and he’d say you can throw the script out the window if you want if something funnier comes up on set. It’s kind of liberating if you can think of something better that isn’t written down and go with it!

Gill: Yes it must be a nice way to work. So do you think there will be a sequel so we can see what happens with James and Patch?

Simon: Yes there are talks of a… erm, I’m not sure if I’m supposed to say it! I know the outline for a sequel, yes.

Gill: Oh great! That would be lovely.

Simon: It might be called Little Losers, I don’t know if I’m supposed to say that. A pregnant Gemma Atkinson.

Gill: Oh great! It all kicks off again.

Simon: Yes, we’ll have to wait and see what happens with this one but I do know the outline for a follow up.

Gill: Oh that sounds brilliant. Okay, so you’ve talked a bit about working on Airborne with Gemma and with Dominic again as director. Have you got any future movie plans? Maybe with them as a team or something else?

Simon: We’ve mentioned UFO and Airborne. I’ve got this hilarious project that you’re going to laugh at in minute, which we finished last year called Strippers Vs Werewolves. It’s a completely ridiculous concept, but I didn’t have to say ‘can you sent me a script?’ – you either got instantly on board or you didn’t.

One of my dearest friends Martin Compston had a small sort of role in How to Stop Being a Loser. He’s kind of the lead in Strippers Vs Werewolves, so he got me involved. So I sort of said thanks. But it was nice to make the link between the two.

Gill: Oh right great, that sounds pretty brilliant, something to look out for. Did you have any strange or funny experiences on the set of How to Stop Being a Loser or anything else that you can recall?

Simon: You know it was just one of those sets where unfortunately everything was funny every now and then and I always admired Dominic as I don’t actually know how he worked with us bunch of idiots really! Because I always expected him to turn around and say guys please but he wasn’t like that, he would instigate some of the pranks that were to happen and stuff like that. So you know what, there wasn’t… I mean there was nothing that stood out on set because everything on set was strange (laughs). It’s like odd stuff next to normal things that you think is really weird. But no there was nothing particularly strange on set.

Gill: You can see that in the outtakes. You can sense that some directors get really tense and angry about it and just want actors to stop and get on with it, so that’s nice that Dominic let you enjoy it.

Simon: Dominic’s voice is one of the first you hear laughing. You would expect him to be like ‘come on guys’, but he wasn’t like that at all. You know, he’s on the nose with comedy and I hope he does get the option to do another one. I know he’s doing more serious stuff at the moment but I do hope he gets back to comedy. It was by far the best set up.

Gill: Oh yes, that’s brilliant. Obviously the film’s coming out on the 6th February so it’s a perfect Valentine’s Day film. Have you got any Valentine’s Day tips for the perfect day?

Simon: Great tips? I suppose not to go anywhere near Dominic Burns or Craig Conway!

Gill: (Laughs)

Simon: If I see either of them two on Valentine’s Day I’m going to know things have gone kind of wrong in my life so…

Gill: It would spoil the mood?

Simon: I would advise people to avoid them to be honest, I think that’s the sanest advice I could give anybody.

Gill: Okay, brilliant. Well thank you very much for talking to me it’s been really interesting!

Simon: No problem, bye!

Gillian Critchley


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