The actor discusses throwing shapes, comic books and where the Spaced lot might be now…
In your new film, Cuban Fury, you play an engineer who rediscovers his love of salsa to get a girl. Presumably we’ll see you on Strictly some time soon…
I don’t think so. I’m just someone who feels the fire of Cuba in my heart. I have been dancing a few times since [filming finished]. What I have retained is a state of mind when it comes to salsa music, a lasting respect for the culture. I can still move, don’t get me wrong…
What was your standard dance move before the film?
I used to be a heavy metal head; bit of head banging. When I was 16 I was offered a job as a podium dancer in this place called the Brain Club on Charing Cross Road, but my parents wouldn’t let me. I wonder how my life would have been.
You had to be waxed and tanned up for the film. How was that?
I loved it. Because we shot it out of order, if you look at the scenes leading up to the chest-shaving, I had my top button done up because I’d already shaved my chest. But I love having a hairy chest. I’m a big, rugged hair ball.
Your character Bruce has a great collection of silky shirts. Did you iron them yourself?
No, there was no ironing – those shirts were never ironed. I kept a shirt and the red shoes I wore in a little bag, like evidence. Evidence in a crime against salsa.
Speaking of dodgy things in bags, did co-star Ian McShane try to sell you any antiques?
[Laughs] You know that was a character he played 15 years ago? You know he’s not actually Lovejoy? He’s a great actor and I loved working with him. You’d be forgiven for thinking he’d come in, say the lines and go home, but he put a lot of himself into it and took dancing lessons.
Talk us through the dance-off scene with Chris O’Dowd. It’s pretty spectacular…
That dance-off took four days to shoot on top of a car park near Heathrow. It was one of the hottest days of 2012, getting up to 38 degrees. There’s a scene where I lift Chris over my head, but he slipped and I took too much weight and pulled all the muscles in my neck. I couldn’t move, which is a pain in the arse when you’re shooting a dance film.
Bruce’s sister is played by Olivia Colman. In your next project Mr Sloane, you’re playing husband and wife. Was it a weird switch?
Yeah, it was. I had to say to Bob Weide, who wrote and directed it, “Don’t put a kiss in!” Obviously, she’s very talented, beautiful and clever, so I’d like to kiss her, but after playing her brother, there was that weird, “Oh no, I’m kissing my sister” feeling.
This is the first time you’ve taken the lead in a film – did you feel any pressure?
No, I don’t think about it. There’s no difference shooting [TV shows] Hyperdrive, or Money in terms of the process on set. We had a great script and cast, and we had a good time shooting it. I love working with Simon [Pegg] and Edgar [Wright], but I also love making films without them.
Have you been asking Edgar for a part in his next project, Ant-Man?
No, absolutely not. I love watching Edgar’s films that I’m not in, because I’m not in them! I loved Scott Pilgrim, so I think he’s going to smash Ant-Man. We had a joke on the World’s End press tour that every time someone asked Edgar about Ant-Man, I’d answer as if I’d been cast as Ant-Man, so when he told me Paul Rudd had been cast I was like, “What do you mean?!"
You must get asked a lot about the possibility of a third series of Spaced. Do you get sick of that?
Yeah, it is annoying. It was years ago. It’s perfect as it is, people love it, so what’s the point in making something that could potentially be less good than the original, and f*ck up the first two series?
What do you think the Spaced characters would all be doing in 2014? Would they all be boring and grown-up now?
No, just because you’re grown-up it doesn’t mean you’re boring. I think they’re of the generation where they’d still be playing video games, though. Well, unless they had kids – then they’d be playing Fireman Sam and Peppa Pig on the iPad.
What’s next for you, then?
I’m kind of writing a graphic novel. My plan is to get people on Twitter to send their artwork, then I’ll pick someone and we’ll work together and self publish. I figure you just send it to Pixar and say “Look! I’ve done this! Do you fancy animating it?”
Cuban Fury is at cinemas nationwide from 14 February
(Images: Rex/Studio Canal)