Cultured Vultures was on the red carpet for the premiere of British wrestling comedy Walk Like A Panther at Manchester Printworks Vue cinema, speaking to the cast and writer-director Dan Cadan about the project and what it meant to them.
Dan Cadan (writer-director)
How did you come up with this concept?
I came up with this concept about 7 years ago in a short version. I wanted it to doff its cap to wrestling of yesteryear but also update it, not necessarily the wrestling itself but those characters from that era to life now. What would they do…after wrestling was taken off the TV. And we also wanted to make a film about family, community, acceptance, and it all felt like it gelled together.
You’re working class yourself, it’s nice to see so many working class actors on screen together. Was it important to you to get that many (working class) people together?
Class wasn’t that important to me. You are who you are…what was important to me was to put a group of people together that felt like they’d been together for a long time that we believed that we’re talking about them 20 years down the line. I felt that’s very important for us…to go “oh yeah I believe that!”
Was there anyone in particular who you wanted cast first?
Stevie (Stephen Graham) and I were first mates on Snatch back in ’99 and we’ve been mates since. We’ve been through a lot together and we actually conceived of the idea loosely about 10 years ago, very drunkenly…and we’d forgotten about it then 3 years later I’d written the script for it!
Finally, Dan, the whole cast in the ring, gigantic wrestling match – who’s winning?
Out of all the cast that wrestle, I’d have to say Alfie Graham, young Mark Bolton…he’d take them all out. I’ve seen him wrestling with his teddy bear. I’m serious they’d all shit themselves!
Jill Halfpenny (Lara Anderson)
What first attracted you to the project?
Well Stevie Graham approached me then introduced me to Dan. So Stevie Graham, Dan Cadan – I’m in. Amazing people…who just love what they do, they’re really enthusiastic and once they started talking to me about their plans for the project I just thought “D’ya know what? I’m just in. It’s wrestling, up north, it’s you two, I’m in”. I didn’t even need to see the script.
How do you feel seeing such a wealth of working class talent together on the screen?
I love it. It’s exciting and you know…there is a feeling sometimes you know that there isn’t maybe enough writing around for working class people – and it’s not to say that working class people can’t play middle class and all that! But it’s…it’s a lot of fun. It’s a lot of fun when we’re all together.
What was it like donning the lycra?
D’ya know what? It wasn’t as bad as I thought it was gonna be because I was a bit like “Oh God!” getting in the catsuit but to be honest my character is so nuts, and she thinks she loves herself so much that it didn’t matter what I looked like, ’cause she thinks she looks the absolute nuts so it sort of give me a bit of freedom. It totally gave me confidence because it wasn’t about, oh everybody else thinks she’s supposed to look good, she just has to think she looks good. It was amazingly liberating for me to go “actually this is her!” And she’s thinking “Yeah!”
Okay, Jill, everybody in the ring from the cast – who’s winning?
Dave Johns (Trevor “Bulldog” Bolton)
What first attracted you to this project?
It was the script really. I got sent the script by my agent and I loved it. I loved the whole…because it was about…community and had a lot of heart. It was funny, but it had a lot of heart and that’s…to try and get that balance right, to get heart, real genuine heart and funny, is a difficult balance. So I thought this script had it. So that’s why I got involved.
Dan Cadan clearly must be a good writer…
Yes. I mean this project has been in Dan’s head for a while. He’s wanted to get this done for a while and it’s great to see how excited he is that it’s now finished.
Was there anybody in the cast you were most looking forward to working with?
Well, Stephen Graham, y’know. Stephen is a remarkable actor and I’ve loved the stuff he’s done, all the stuff I’ve seen him in. And he’s always different…and in here he plays this really simple, wide-eyed, not very wise (sic)…then he can play Al Capone! There’s something about Stephen…and he was very generous on set. And there’s Sue Johnson, Stephen Tompkinson and even the comics are in it! Steve Furst and Neil Fitzmaurice, all those guys y’know? Everybody just gelled. And we had such fun on set. Sometimes you were thinking “is this even a real job?!” I hope that comes out in the film.
Walk Like A Panther is released in the UK on March 9th.