HEROES & INSPIRATIONS
The Cornetto Trilogy star tells Nick Setchfield how much he loves Spielberg, Tom Baker and Triffids
Nick Frost on his unusual encounter with The Day Of The Triffids – and other incidents.
Ifelt like I had a story,” says Nick Frost. He’s talking Truths, Half Truths And Little White Lies, his new autobiography, the secret origin of the Dagenham boy who became the screen’s ultimate best mate. Distinctly unstarry despite a career trajectory that’s taken him from Spaced to Spielberg, Frost is happy to munch Hob-Nobs and share some of his passions with SFX. Not, he stresses, that he was a pureblood, bedroom- bound geek as a kid. “If I could be over a deserted piece of ground throwing bricks at a burnt- out Escort Mk 2 then I’d rather be doing that…”
THE X- FILES
If I think about The X- Files I think about me and Simon [ Pegg] in my old flat in Cricklewood. There was no furniture in it. There was a sofabed and a cupboard on its side, and I had a gas heater that we put the telly on, and a video. And we just watched endless box sets, constantly. Apart from Sapphire And Steel it was the most amazing thing I’d ever seen on telly. I think in the pilot there’s a moment where Mulder and Scully are walking back from a grave, and they do that thing where you’re walking along in a street and you just kind of bump into one another… We must have rewound that 10 times. There were so many times when Simon and I were like, “Whoa, they touched hands!” He was injured and she held him or something like that. I got a secret nod that it was coming back. I remember texting Simon saying, “Hey, do you want to know something fucking amazing?” And he texted back to say, “Yeah, I do!” And then I didn’t reply. Then I got another one from him saying “I SAID I DO.” I texted him back and said, “Fucking X- Files is coming back!” Yeah, I think it’s going to be fantastic.
As a child I was a different kettle of fish. I was about playing outside and dirt and rugby and Action Man. I didn’t watch a lot of television but Saturday evenings was Doctor Who and my Doctor was Tom Baker. He just seemed so fucking crazy, right? Not in a bad way, not like “Whoa, he could stab someone…” He was batty. He kind of frightened and thrilled me in equal measure. But I liked the baddies. I liked the Sontarans and the Cybermen and the Daleks. I always wanted them to win but I was always aware that would be a short season.
CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND
I thought it was a documentary in terms of it affecting me so much. My Auntie Melanie lives in a small town in Wales and they used to have a big American air force base. She went out with one of the airmen and he would bring her VHS tapes to watch. One day he came in with this box with a New York- style cheese pizza in it – which I’d never had before – and Close Encounters. And me and him and my mum and dad and Auntie Melanie sat and watched it and ate fucking pizza. It was amazing. Even then it wasn’t lost on me that this was a film where a man’s life was crumbling. His marriage was ending. It’s that great thing that Spielberg does where you get so hooked on Roy Neary – it’s like what Edgar does in Shaun Of The Dead, in a way. He’s splitting up with Liz and that’s his main concern. And as viewers that relationship is what you buy into. And at the back of that is the zombies, or in this case François Truffaut and the aliens. I just bought it.
Ninety per cent of the time I’m listening to really hard house. I was a clubber. At 16 I was going to Raindance and Telepathy, pop- ups and things in shit barns. It’s quite good being semi- famous now. I’ve contacted these guys called the Tidy Boys who are some of the biggest hard house DJs. It means I can now go behind the DJ, which is great. I listen to it in the car or if I’m writing. The repetitive nature of it – and the fact that even though it seems chaotic it’s very logical – is a calming influence. It’s like an equation. You can see what they’re going to do at any one point. It works for me.
He directed me in Tintin. I try not to be nervous because then it becomes something else. I’m there to perform. I’m not there to fanboy over him. Fortunately for me and Simon, in between takes he would talk about Close Encounters and ET and things that he’d done with George and bets they’d had… For the first week we’d just hang out behind the monitor. It was at that point I could sense myself thinking, “Okay, what can you say that means he won’t think you’re a dick?” Most days on set you could see him trying to work out his perfect shot. How old is he now? In his sixties? To see him dance on set after a great take… you want to be around that. I love doing this job and to see that he still has that spark after how many films he’s made is an inspiration.
THE DAY OF THE TRIFFIDS
I’m starting to write a novel about a man who’s the last person on Earth. I love that notion and I think John Wyndham did it so well. It seemed so bleak and so English. I got a bonus for a thing I did and I looked on the internet and tracked down a first edition from 1953. Amazing cover, really beautiful cover. It’s a really expensive thing that I’ve got and I hate because I don’t know what to do with it. I can’t put it on a bookshelf because that would be in sunlight, and I don’t want it to bleach. I moved house and I put it into my bedside cabinet, thinking, “I’ll leave it there, it’s in the dark, no one can hurt it.” I used to have an en- suite toilet. I moved into a house without one, but there was still a cupboard where my old toilet was. I woke up one morning and, to cut a long story short, I had got up in the night and I had pissed in my bedside cabinet. As I opened the drawer it was full of piss and the book was just floating on top. I was so fucking cross and upset that I just felt nothing. I took the dust jacket off and I got like 10 towels. I put five on the floor and then I lay the book on top and covered it with the other towels. And then just left it. I literally couldn’t look at it for four days, such was my anger. I’ve managed to get it back to a near- pristine level. No aroma. Well, no more than a musty 70- year- old book anyway. But I just got a new kitten six weeks ago and he’s a little fucker. I let him into my room the other day. He was chewing on the fucking spine. The same book. I might sell it. It feels doomed. Like it’s haunted or I’m just not meant to have it.
Truths, Half Truths And Little White Lies is out now.
Between takes Spielberg would talk about Close Encounters and ET and George…
Close Encounters: “I just bought it.”
Just don’t mess with his first editions.
Frost is a little bit excited about the new X- Files.
The Fourth Doctor “frightened and thrilled me in equal measure.”
Nick Frost and Simon Pegg played Thomson and Thompson in Spielberg’s Tintin.