A nagging idea for a Strictly Ballroom style production based on salsa was never going to see the light of day until a certain zombie-chaser sat down to a few beers
Nick Frost is best known for tackling zombies and aliens with Simon Pegg, but Baz Luhrmann and the glitzy dance world helped inspire his latest film Cuban Fury.
Frost had Luhrmann’s classic Strictly Ballroom on loop while coming up with the idea for Cuban Fury, about an underconfident, overweight former salsa prodigy, who reignites his passion for dance.
“The thing Baz does so well in that film is the comedy is funny, the people are real ... the drama is dramatic and the dancing is fiery hot and amazing and passionate,” he says.
“And I think that was one of our briefs to ourselves going into this – it needed to be a little bit like Strictly Ballroom.”
That included all the spangly costumes.
While Frost happily embraced the sequins, the fake tan was a different story.
“I didn’t like fake tan. I have a quirky phobia where I don’t like any sticky liquid on my chest or neck,” he says. “The tan was a bit wrong.” And then there was the dancing.
Frost trained in salsa dancing for six hours a day, five days a week over seven months to perfect his steps.
But he remembers at the end of day four, he was ready to throw in the towel.
“You’re essentially standing in a mirrored box, being a big lump, trying to do what these dancers are showing me to do. And you just think I will never, ever get this,” he says.
“There were moments there where I thought, you’ve just got to be honest (and say) ‘look I can’t do it, I gave it four days, I know it takes people a lifetime to learn the minutiae of Cuban Salsa, but I can’t do it’.
“I really cursed myself and thought, why don’t you keep your mouth shut next time you have a great idea.”
It was all thanks to a drunken email that the idea ever got off the ground. Frost had been sitting on the idea for ages, when he got fairly tipsy and emailed it to his long-term producer.
“I think I wanted to be caught. The thought of me doing a dance film is ridiculous and I understand that,” he says.
“But it was an idea that would not go away ...
“I knew that if it was just left to me I’d sit on it and I’d really regret it, so that’s where Stella Artois and an Apple Macintosh came in.”
But the producer thought it was hilarious and soon director James Griffiths was on board, followed by actors Rashida Jones and Chris O’Dowd.
Frost left the writing up to Jon Brown, because as much as he loved writing Paul with Simon Pegg, it took up a huge amount of time. “Going forward, I think is a really nice template for me personally – you have an idea, people like that idea, you find great people to write it and you produce the thing,” he says.
“(And) instead of doing one thing every two years, you could do two things a year and have some creative control over it.”
Cuban Fury opens today.
Olivia Colman and Nick Frost