And the winner is Russell Tovey
2009 Pink Paper Magazine
Darren Scott, Pink Paper Magazine, 20 January 2009
Excerpt: "A non-descript industrial estate in Bristol is home to the set, which is scattered with comics and videos. Like a typical retro student flat there is crap everywhere and nothing matches. It’s a good day to be here – we’ve just witnessed the shows 500th scene being filmed and champagne has been served. Much hilarity has ensued – a scene in Mitchell’s bedroom where the vampire is having wounds tended to has already seen Tovey pretend to toss the night-stalker off. He picks a pair of boxers from the floor and with a mischievous grin lifts them to his face.
“Did you just sniff his pants!” Crichlow cries.
I’m reliably informed that the atmosphere is usually this much fun. I’ve already been treated to an impromptu rendition of Merry, Merry Christmas by Tovey and Turner. Tovey gives a cheeky smile. “Riffing and talking bollocks,” he notes.
The History Boys and Little Dorrit star has a Facebook group in his honour entitled Russell Tovey is GAWJUS! Its 189 members aren’t wrong – my friend comments that upon meeting him that my body language is “like an eight year old girl meeting Zac Efron”. So it’s probably just as well we caught him on a non-make-up day.
“Standing naked, transforming, having the teeth and eyes,” he beams when we sit down in the kitchen set. (NB The table is littered with Annie’s cups of tea and I just manage to avoid picking one up to take a sup.)
“Naked at least once a week,” Tovey says with a mock sigh. “Probably screaming once a week. I’ve been strangled three, four times a week. I’ve got this massive bruise on my arm...” He rolls up his sleeve to display a not insignificant black and purple mark. “Look at the size of that! But that’s part of it. You’ve just got to go for it. I like the physical days, but I like also being able to sit down and have a chat round the table like we’re having now. That’s the best acting I enjoy.”
Having established he has a bit of a following, I ask if such a “genre show” will secure his standing as a cult figure.
“Oh, I’ve no idea,” he tuts. “I dunno!” The rather massive beamer returns when I suggest that Being Human should help.
“I think people are going to connect with it on so many levels, there’s so many things going on. You’ve got the sci-fi people and you’ve got the people who follow drama and the people who like comedy. And the people that like big ears might watch it for me,” he laughs.
So if not a cult figure, what about an action figure…
“Bring it. I wanna doll!” He leans in and repeats slowly. “I. Want. A. Doll. I was so gutted I didn’t get a toy after Doctor Who,” he says of his 2007 Christmas appearance with a certain Kylie Minogue.
“I got a Top Trump card that someone sent me the other day,” he beams. “His bravery level’s the lowest thing, he’s got no bravery.”
Surely as Midshipman Frame saved the day – if not Kylie – that can’t be the case? “That’s what I was like! That’s not true.” He adopts a camp “luvvey” voice. “When I did the research he was very brave!
“I don’t think a lot of kids will watch Being Human though, I think it’ll probably be too dark. The fanbase – from what you see – from the pilot’s been so varied anyway, so many people of different ages have watched it, haven’t they? It’s not determined one bracket of age, male or female, gay, straight, anything. Animal, bisexual vegetable,” he laughs. “Everybody’s been involved.”
Now there, I suggest, is the premise for a publication that would reach everyone. He laughs hard.
“Bisexual Vegetable... Gazette! Well I want to be editor.”
Tovey’s out, and has never made a secret of it. But by comparison, unlike others he’s never made an issue of it, so he appears cautious when the issue of being a role model and cover star is brought up.
“It doesn’t determine anything about me. I hope that I can be an exception to the normal stereotype – if there is one.
“I’d like to be a role model. When I was young, growing up and coming out there was nobody who I thought was representative of what I was like, everybody was like camp or really flamboyant. There was nobody who I was like, ‘that’s great, it makes me want to do it’. But then on the other hand I’m not going to go down the whole ‘hey I’m gay’ and all that. That’s something that really doesn’t interest me, I don’t think it really is a benefit to my career.
“I’m an actor and I have my private life. People will always wanna know and I’m not embarrassed about it, but I’m not going to promote myself along that line.”
Perhaps then, with this character, he’d be more inclined to be the poster boy for a dog magazine?
“Yeah, Horse and Hound or summat? I could be sitting next to a big black stallion or summat. Digging a hole in the garden, and finding one of them bisexual vegetables!” he laughs.
“The thing is what’s nice is, if anything did kick off with me, I’ve never made a secret of it so it’s not going to be something that’s going to be exposed as a skeleton in the closet. There’s nothing about me that I’ve ever hidden. I’m not promiscuous. I go on the scene but I’m not promiscuous. I just live my life, I’ve got a great family, it really isn’t an issue – to me – so that’s why I think other people don’t find it an issue either.”
Pah. No dirt?
“There isn’t. I would love to give you dirt.”
“Just go, yeah!” he laughs. “There’s nothing. I mean, I drag up on my own at home and that’s it. I masturbate into my mothers top drawer,” he jokes.
At this EXACT point Crichlow starts screaming – properly screaming – in another part of the set. He looks at my wide-eyes and deadpans: “She’s getting raped by another ghost.” For a second, I believe him and then we both start laughing as she’s really going for it and I’ve completely lost my line of questioning.
Finally, as I’ve asked all the cast… If he really was a werewolf…
“Who would I eat? If I was a wolf and I had a choice of eating people... Who would I eat? Jesus! Who would I attack? Bark...” he suggests, though I tell him I’ve yet to see a werewolf bark at someone.
“Oh I dunno. Some stuffy MP? I dunno. Racists. Homophobes. Someone who shouldn’t be here bringing people down. Karen Matthews. I’d scratch ‘em. Disfigure ‘em!”