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Nick Frost Talks About ‘Pirate Radio’

Pirate RadioGemma Arterton and Nick Frost in ‘Pirate Radio.’

© Focus Features

Nov 2009 – Back in the 1960s, at the height of Beatlemania, rock and roll was all but banned in England. The only way music lovers could get their fix, other than a couple of hours a week on the BBC, was to tune in to pirate radio. Literally housed on a boat at sea, a batch of colorful deejays served up rock and roll music 24 hours a day to listeners who’d otherwise be deprived of the music. And now with Pirate Radio, writer/director Richard Curtis (Love Actually) brings to the big screen the story of how these deejays challenged British law to keep on keeping on.

In Pirate Radio, Nick Frost – best known for his starring roles in Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz – shows audiences that big man can be sexy. Playing a womanizing deejay named Dave, Frost’s not afraid to show off a whole lot of skin. “I think I’m going to be asked to appear on the cover of All American Bear after my performance,” joked Frost about his sexy Pirate Radio scenes. “I enjoyed it. You know, I think it’s pretty brave of Richard to cast a twenty-stone man in the kind of romantic, not lead but, you know, a romantic role. And it was good, it was great to shoot those scenes. It’s not every day you get to do a job where you can just wonder around naked and people don’t give a s**t, you know?”

Being a large man, the tight quarters on the Pirate Radio set were a bit of a squeeze. “They got tighter when I got in them, put it that way. They’re small. The sets were so intricate and perfect,” said Frost.

Even the cabins used as bedrooms were tiny, with little room to maneuver around. “It was tight. They had to do that kind of clever thing that they took pieces out and shot in and through. But the sets were amazing. The only time I got seasick on the whole project was when we were in the studio, because they built a giant set of the ship.”

Frost added, “When I went through that set before we started shooting and I was opening every drawer and cupboard, and every drawer and cupboard was full of period food, of period cups, of everything. And I thought, ‘Why? Why? I mean, you’re never ever going to see in here.’ And then sure enough, when they set the rocker to seven and the thing’s doing this and everything’s coming out the cupboards, you think, ‘Oh right, okay, this is why they built it so precisely.'”


The Music That Defined a Generation

Frost readily admits he’s not a huge fan of music from the 1960s, but he got a crash course in all things rock and roll while making this movie. “I know it a lot better now since doing this. I didn’t listen to any music after ’69, for the whole period that I was involved, just to make sure that I kind of did know what I was talking about,” revealed Frost. “I’m not going to say I’m not a fan, but I’m a fan of house music essentially and kind of indie, and I was always into the kind of sub-pop Seattle Mudhoney and Pearl Jam kind of sound. But my kind of big love was house music ever since I was 15/16, going to raves when I was 15 or 16 years old and not going to school like a naughty boy. So I mean that was really where I was from musically. So I felt it was kind of important.”

“In the first week of the film I said to Richard, ‘I need to talk to you,’ and so he came over and he said, ‘What’s up?’ I said, ‘I’ve never listened to a Rolling Stones record,’ admitted Frost. “And he said, ‘Oh Bill,’ and they got Bill Nighy over who’s a massive Stones nut, and the two of them just kind of told me off for five minutes.”

Frost also got the chance to talk to real pirate radio DJs to help him get into his character. “They came on to set and they arranged for me to meet Johnny Walker, who was a very famous pirate radio DJ who now works for the BBC – has his own show for years and years. And they arranged for me to go on his show live and to hang out with him and see how he works. And he was great. I mean he invited me in to the studio; he actually wheeled me in in the chair that I was sitting in, and I thought, ‘Oh, this is going to be great.’ And then I was watching him for 10 minutes and then he said, ‘You know what? You’ve got to leave.’ I said, ‘Oh, all right, yes.’ I was meant to be on there for two hours, and I think he just wanted to play music and not have me looking over his shoulder. And I can understand, you know? I didn’t feel put out or miffed by it. It was just he wanted to get on and play music.”

The fact the movie was about ’60s music obviously wasn’t the appeal of the project for Frost. Frost was drawn in because it was written by Richard Curtis. “He’s like the headmaster of British comedy. I think he does something here that no one else really does and he’s kind of like the Woody Allen of British cinema. But if you imagine if Woody was the black, he’d be the white. You know what I mean? And I’ve grown up watching things by Richard Curtis and Blackadder, and so for him to kind of write a role specifically for me was great. I didn’t even realize that he knew I was alive, let alone was a fan and would want me to be in one of his films. So it’s flattering. I wish I could say something horrible about him but I can’t. He is all that, really.”

* * * * *

Pirate Radio hits theaters on November 13, 2009 and is rated R for language, and some sexual content including brief nudity.


November 13, 2009 - Posted by | 1

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