Did you learn anything about yourself as an actor working through this kind of challenge?
A little, I think. When you’re in pain, you feel so strangely vulnerable. I had to take [the cast] off at times. You’re in crowds saying, “Please don’t step on my foot, please, please, please.”
The first ad is like “Watch out for Andrew!”
yes But we managed. We made it!
I’m curious what Lena is like on set. How does she give a note?
We did a lot of improvisation. She’ll come back and say, “I love that line!” Like all the best directors, you reward the good ones and ignore the bad ones. [Laughs] She is incredibly hot-tempered and funny. She also understands performance. You are not required to do 75 times something with diminishing returns. You feel confident because she feels confident.
I noticed this at TIFF she said she turned you from “Hot Priest” to “Hot Medieval Dad”. I wanted to ask about the phenomenon of prefixing “hot” to your characters after playing Hot Priest on a bag of fleas. I imagine it’s flattering, but also weird. Does it happen often?
This only happens when you talk about things [at festivals], or I do press. There are worse things that could be called, I suppose.
True, it makes sense that it happens with the press. It doesn’t happen in your everyday life where your friends say, “This is mine friend.”
“This is my hot Irish friend.” [Laughs]
If they were real friends, maybe would do it.
If they were real friends, that’s right!
People loved a bag of fleas Season 2 so much. Hot Priest left such an indelible mark. It made me wonder how present the legacy of this show is in your everyday life.
This is definitely a job that people just love. They love it. It’s a symbol, a bit like this movie, of the people who make it, and that’s why it’s joyful. I feel very proud of that. a bag of fleas is so generous and wonderful and adds to the sense of compassion for the world, but it’s done through the lens of comedy. It affects people with an agility that requires such skill.
I recently did a re-review and it’s so good.
This is a wonderful thing. And men respond to this too. Men really like it because it involves. It’s really inclusive.
That’s another thing to say about Lena as a director – the set was incredibly comprehensive. Movie sets can be macho places, so having people in key positions changes the atmosphere.
How does it change it for you?
It’s just a novel. The thing I love about working in movies or just working as an actor is that it doesn’t require a certain class of people, or a certain sex, or a gender, or a race. You can work with many people. I like the idea that if you’re doing a play about grandparents and 16-year-olds, then the people you have to surround yourself with for a two-month run in the West End are 80-year-olds and 16-year-olds. This is where our empathic instincts can grow. When you are on a set where everyone is very different, but you all have the same joy in the work, you all run to the circus together. Lena has insisted that certain tasks be done by different types of people, and that matters.