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Richard Ayoade interview

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Richard Ayoade is happier hiding in The IT Crowd basement “I don’t go out of my house a lot,” mumbles Richard Ayoade. The man IT Crowd fans know as super-geek Moss clearly struggles in daylight, never mind the limelight. So it’s perhaps no surprise he’s made the move behind the camera with coming-of-age flick Submarine. Actor, award-winning comedian, film director. Ayoade is a lot of things, but as ShortList soon discovers, he’s not the world’s most comfortable interviewee...

You’re about to make your big-screen directorial debut. How does it compare to acting?

I feel more comfortable and I think I have more of an aptitude for directing than acting. I’m not massively confident in my acting ability. I don’t think my acting is a complete injury to the public, but it is probably causing moderate distress.

You used to be a stand-up. Any horrible experiences?

Noel Fielding and I toured together for a bit and we did a gig at a ball that in total lasted only 11 minutes. I remember walking up to the stage and the floor being wet with sick.

Early reviews of Submarine have compared you to US film director Wes Anderson. Is he an influence?

I like him a lot but I think it’s mostly a case of us liking the same things. Part of the reason I liked Wes Anderson was that he obviously liked the French New Wave. Beyond that, I’m a fan of Woody Allen, Ingmar Bergman and Akira Kurosawa. A lot of what I’ve done is directed by the characters, which helps. Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace was ‘directed’ by Garth, and Submarine is [troubled main character] Oliver’s imagined idea of how he should be seen.

You were the only member of the original cast drafted over to film a US pilot of The IT Crowd. Are there plans for a full series?

I don’t know. It was quite an odd thing to do because the script was very similar, so it felt like doing another run of a play. I’d be surprised if I was asked back. When it briefly looked like it was going to happen it was an extremely frightening prospect. I completely wasn’t ready to move to Hollywood or anything like that. For one thing, I’m not particularly good in the heat.

Is fame, and dare we say it, being interviewed, something you’re not hugely interested in?

I suppose what I resist is that it’s somehow a direct window into whether someone’s a nice bloke or not. I’ve said before that the people I know in life that are the nicest always come across as awkward in interviews. Shyness reads as aloof, thought reads as shiftiness...

Alex Turner from Arctic Monkeys is a friend of yours. Is that an opinion you share?

Yeah, it’s definitely something we agree on. I don’t want to know whether I slope or trot into a room, or whether I’m already waiting. Imagine if you came away from a conversation going, “I really enjoyed that. I just talked about myself.” People would think you were a lunatic [laughs]. It’s very weird not to ask someone questions during a conversation. I just feel really rude.

So we’re unlikely to see you papped falling out of a club?

I don’t think I’m where the action is. I can’t see people going, “Let’s send a squadron of photographers out and catch him looking for a Maurice Pialat DVD or browsing in a second-hand bookshop.”

Submarine is at cinemas nationwide from 18 March

(Image: Rex Features)

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