Jump to Main ContentJump to Primary Navigation

Russell Tovey talks football taboos, showbiz friends and life in America


ShortList chat to Tovey about his new film but he’s quite interested in talking about piss.

Your new film The Pass is about a footballer who attempts to repress his homosexual feelings for the sake of his career. When do you think the taboo in professional football will be eroded?

The only way you break down taboos is by having someone who’s an ambassador to go against that taboo. And as it is, no one has yet come out as a Premier League footballer. But they will. That’s gonna be a defining moment. The pressure and attention is going to be enormous. But I can’t wait for that to happen. The dream would be that someone will see this movie and maybe they’ll be inspired to do it because they don’t want to live a life like Jason [his character] does: hiding or tortured like he is.

The film started as a play, which you starred in. Is it different, working on it as a film?

The best thing about doing a play-to-film is that you’ve lived with that character for so much longer than you would have done when you normally do a TV or a film job. I knew this guy; I knew what made him tick probably more than a lot of other characters that I’ve played.

When did you begin serious acting?

Seriously, probably from about aged 19. But properly feeling like I’m part of the business: during The History Boys. Being at the National Theatre, then afterwards, the whole adventure: the play, then the movie, then we’d been around the world, and come back from Broadway, and we had the premiere at Odeon Leicester Square with Prince Charles and Camilla.

Do you still pinch yourself nowadays?

I’m incredibly fortunate that I’ve been acting for all of my life. Before I even had pubic hair, I was working. And now I’m 35 and able to grow a full beard, I’ve made that whole journey.

Still no pubic hair, though.

Completely bald down there, but it’s all growing on my face.

Russell Tovey

What’s coming up? Are you going to be doing any more writing?

At some point there is going to be a play that I’ve written, hopefully in the next couple of years. I start rehearsals for Angels In America at the National Theatre next year, so I’m going back to the stage for some time.

Let’s talk about your beloved French bulldog, Rocky. Have you considered doing any modelling with him? Could he advertise for any brands?

You know in a photographer’s studio where they have the big lights set up, and you have the flash and the squeaking noise? He’s not a fan of that. At all. You’ll get two pictures if you have to use that flash, then he goes apeshit. That’s his nemesis – that and the Hoover. But if they can do a photoshoot in natural light, then yes. He knows his angles; he’s a supermodel. He’s the David Gandy of the dog world.

I’ve only known him for a brief time online and from what I’ve seen, he’s got an extraordinary personality. Would he model for Calvin Klein?

Mark Wahlberg-style? I think he’d be up for that. He loves getting dressed up. If Calvin Klein said, “We want to give you clothes for your dog and put him in a campaign,” I’d be like, “Yes, Calvin Klein. You can do that.”

Russell Tovey with Rocky, his little dog

You’re working more and more in the US. How does Rocky like it there?

He loves it. The only difference is that there’s something in the water that makes dogs’ piss smell different than it does here.

What does it smell like?

Well, I haven’t sniffed it myself. I assume it’s like the crack of urine. For some reason, he cannot cope. He gets hyper-excited about the lampposts and the fire hydrants. There’s something about it; he gets fixated on the piss smell.

High-quality piss.

It must be.

Who do you think is the most fun in your showbiz circle of friends?

I’ve got incredible girl friends that I’ve made from every show I’ve done. Lenora Crichlow from Being Human is heaven. Sarah Solemani and Kerry Howard from Him & Her: heaven. Sarah Hadland from The Job Lot: heaven. Lisa McGrillis who was in The Pass: heaven. When we can all get together, it’s the best. I love the company of funny women. There is nothing better. And these girls make me literally urinate myself. This is going to be a very urine-heavy interview…

It’s best when they are. I’ve always said that.

Most interviews, if they’ve got a lot of piss in them, you know they’re going to be successful.

The Pass is at cinemas nationwide from 9 December

[Images: Rex]



Riz Ahmed: "I think change is coming, but it’s slow”


American hipster dads are demanding to be called 'papa'


Elijah Wood: "Finding Nigerian records is quite difficult"



London Marathon hero has had his entry fee next year covered

Yeah, they can probably call it even now

by Matt Tate
26 Apr 2017

Inside the dark art of (actually decent) sports headline puns

An enduring British pastime - but why?

by Tom Usher
26 Apr 2017

Oh great, now Paul Nuttall's comparing himself to Gandhi

Mate, that's not how it works

by Tom Victor
26 Apr 2017

Jeremy Corbyn would be Prime Minister if only under-40s could vote

But they're 20 points behind overall

by Gary Ogden
26 Apr 2017

Wild boars have joined the war against ISIS

A herd of stampeding pigs reportedly kills three Islamic State militants

by Tom Mendelsohn
26 Apr 2017

United Airlines have now killed a giant rabbit

Could it get any worse?

by Dave Fawbert
26 Apr 2017

Watch S-Town's Tyler Goodson give his first TV interview

“Sometimes I regret ever speaking into that microphone"

by Matt Tate
25 Apr 2017

Wait, is Donald Trump about to start a war over milk?

Armed conflict has been started over less. Maybe

by Tom Victor
25 Apr 2017

This guy in a gorilla suit still hasn’t finished his London Marathon ‘

Just because something hasn't been done doesn't mean you have to do it

by Tom Victor
25 Apr 2017

Woolworths could be coming back to the high street

The perfect accompaniment to Brexit Britain

by Tom Mendelsohn
25 Apr 2017