Spall’s well . . .

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - FILM - I Give it a Year opens to­day; see re­view on page 12. The Jame­son Dublin In­ter­na­tional Film Fes­ti­val opens next Thurs­day. jdiff.com

week’s Jame­son Dublin In­ter­na­tional Film Fes­ti­val be­fore a com­mer­cial re­lease in March, the pic­ture was shot in a snowy Dublin two years ago.

“Oh you’ve seen it,” he says ex­cit­edly. “I haven’t seen it yet. I had a real hoot do­ing that. There was a mas­sive snowfall when were there and there’s no cold like Dublin cold. I can still feel it now.

“I love the city. Ev­ery­one goes a bit gooey when they think of Dublin. It’s a great place to film and there are such fan­tas­tic crews.”

So, life is busy. It could have been oth­er­wise. Not ev­ery ac­tor gets to flit from Ire­land to the US to Canada in the course of a year. That in­se­cu­rity scares away many young folk who har­bour the­atri­cal am­bi­tions. But Rafe grew up, of course, in an un­usual house­hold.

“Whether I am an ac­tor be­cause of my dad or not is an unan­swer­able ques­tion,” he muses. “I think I would al­ways have ended up do­ing this. But I think it is sig­nif­i­cant that I saw my dad mak­ing a ca­reer out of it. In my in­no­cence, I thought be­ing an ac­tor was a le­git­i­mate way of mak­ing a liv­ing. In re­al­ity, it’s the most in­se­cure way to spend your life. I had this very dif­fer­ent ex­am­ple be­fore me. So, I felt it was pos­si­ble.”

He ex­plains that his dad never tried to talk him out of act­ing. But, af­ter en­cour­ag­ing the boy to join the Na­tional Youth The­atre, he did ask Rafe to per­form his au­di­tion piece in the

“In my in­no­cence, I thought be­ing an ac­tor was a le­git­i­mate way of mak­ing a liv­ing. In re­al­ity, it’s the most in­se­cure way to spend your life”

front room. The younger Spall chose one of Mark Antony’s speeches from Julius Cae­sar.

“I’m sure he would have en­cour­aged us to do any­thing in life,” he says. “But that was a daunt­ing ex­pe­ri­ence. You’re do­ing a Shake­speare speech to one of the coun­try’s great ac­tors and he just hap­pens to be your dad. If I hadn’t been any good he would have been obliged to tell me. ‘Ahem, have you ever thought about writ­ing?’”

Rafe is touch­ingly keen to talk about his dad. He de­scribes him as “his hero” and con­fesses that they talk on the phone ev­ery day. One can only imag­ine how trau­matic it must have been to learn that the older Spall had con­tracted leukaemia. Tim was di­ag­nosed in the mid-1990s. The ini­tial prog­no­sis was less than en­cour­ag­ing, but he seems to have come through it un­scathed.

“I would have been around 14 or 15. I un­der­stand that he wasn’t given a wildly pos­i­tive prog­no­sis,” Rafe says. “But he got bet­ter, and chil­dren have an ex­tra­or­di­nary way of cop­ing. You tell them aw­ful news and a few days later, they get used to it. I got on with it. I blocked it out of my mind. If we’d lost him, it would have been ab­so­lutely cat­a­strophic.”

Rafe was dis­ap­pointed not to se­cure a place in Rada. But he never seems to have been short of work. Look hard and you’ll spot him in Shaun of the Dead. He reap­peared in the same team’s Hot Fuzz. But he reck­ons that he didn’t feel en­tirely se­cure in his pro­fes­sion un­til 2011. In that year, we saw Rafe in both Anony­mous and One Day.

Then he was cast as the most fool­ish space trav­eller in Ri­d­ley Scott’s Prometheus. That film proved to be both a com­mer­cial and crit­i­cal dis­ap­point­ment. To al­most ev­ery­one’s sur­prise, Rafe’s next film, Life of Pi, ended up tak­ing at least 25 per cent more (Ang Lee’s movie is still play­ing) than its sup­pos­edly more com­mer­cial pre­de­ces­sor. Spall, who plays the writer who hears Pi’s story, se­cured the role in un­usual cir­cum­stances.

“He had shot my en­tire part with an­other ac­tor. I be­lieve it was Tobey Maguire,” he says, diplo­mat­i­cally. “And then they wanted to go in a dif­fer­ent di­rec­tion with the char­ac­ter. I was thus in the strange po­si­tion of be­ing able to watch the whole film. So, I knew we had some­thing spe­cial. Mind you, no­body thought it would take ¤500 mil­lion. It’s an art movie, really.”

Life has got com­pli­cated for Rafe. Mar­ried to El­ize du Toit, a star of Hol­lyoaks, he re­cently wel­comed a sec­ond child into the world. The cou­ple live in Maida Vale, some con­ve­nient dis­tance from Lon­don Zoo and Lord’s Cricket Ground. Hav­ing spent most of the sum­mer shoot­ing in Canada, he has had to strive to “make it work”. But he now has a 10-week break be­fore em­bark­ing on Owen Har­ris’s Kill Your Friends.

For now, there is the gam­ble (for him and Work­ing Ti­tle) that is I Give it a Year. On ev­ery bus, fea­tured on ev­ery chat show (and th­ese pages), the film is cer­tainly hard to avoid.

“Things have got a bit more ex­cit­ing in re­cent years,” he con­firms. “I am very aware that I Give it a Year is a big deal. It’s all very strange and if this doesn’t do well, then I may not get the chance to be in a ro­man­tic com­edy again.”

He shrugs philo­soph­i­cally. “But hopefully I will al­ways get to do this job.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Ireland

© PressReader. All rights reserved.