I’m most definitely not related to Edgar or Joe Wright. When we were promoting Grabbers I thought about pretending that I was Edgar’s estranged brother, but decided in the end that he wouldn’t see the funny side. I was going to say that Edgar refused to go to my parent’s house at Christmas if I was there, that’s how much he hated me…
I used to write music for commercials, with a sound designer friend. Neither of us could play a musical instrument — we were from that nineties generation who used computers to compose. We had some big clients — Pepsi, for example – and at one stage were making quite a lot of money. But I really wanted to be a film director, music was just something I stumbled into, and so it fell by the wayside. It’s been a useful experience when it comes to editing pictures to music, and talking to composers.
I love lens flare — not as much as JJ Abrams did in the first Star Trek reboot, but not far off. We shot Unwelcome on Panavision Primo anamorphic lenses and Robot Overlords on G series Panavision anamorphic lenses – incredibly beautiful glass. Panavision are my favourite lens makers — their lenses have an organic, flattering way of rendering human skin that complements digital sensors beautifully.
Russell Brand once stripped down to his underpants in my living room. The word is overused these days, but I think he’s probably a (wayward) genius.
People often ask me what my favourite film is, a question I find really difficult to answer. Years ago I sat down and wrote a list of my favourite films — it was over 200 films long. Scorsese was the director with the most films on there — seven, if memory serves. The films that made me want to direct were by the so-called Movie Brats in the seventies and eighties — Spielberg, George Lucas, Coppola, Scorsese. University educated film nerds with zero life experience. ;-)
I hate having my picture taken. Generally I glance in the mirror in the morning, tidy myself up a bit, and then try to avoid it till the following morning. I feel sorry for the cameraphone generation — they are constantly having their picture taken, constantly having to look at themselves.
Unlike JJ Abrams (and Tarantino, and Spielberg, and Christopher Nolan) — I hate film (i.e. celluloid) and was mightily pleased to see the back of it. I particularly hated the wait between shooting it and seeing how it turned out. Nowadays, if you do your post-production properly, and use the right lenses — I think digital looks better than film… Contentious statement!
I’m one of those people who can concentrate on something and completely lose track of time, I become totally absorbed in what I’m doing. A few years back I was worried — like a lot of people are — that my smart phone was shortening my attention span. I took several tests to determine my ability to focus, and got top marks in every one. But anecdotally I’d say I find it much harder to watch a slow movie, or read a book, than I did once upon a time.
I used to play — and love — video games, but gave them up in my twenties as it was impossible to sustain while I was working. They’re incredibly addictive, and have kept me up when I should have gone to bed on many, many occasions. I’ve completed Super Mario Brothers: The Lost Levels — if you know what that means, you’ll know how difficult it was. It’s nothing to be proud of, of course! Though I do think video games improve your reaction times, your ability to process visual information.
I’m not on Facebook, and never have been. The whole notion reminded me of the school playground, and those handwritten best friend lists kids used to carry around at one stage. You lived in fear of being crossed off somebody’s list, it wasn’t a healthy mindset. At various points in my life I’ve wondered whether I’m missing out and have contemplated joining — but I didn’t, in the end, and it seems like a good decision today as I rarely meet somebody who actually seems to enjoy using it. I’d liken Twitter to cigarette smoking — compulsive, addictive, but not very much fun. Instagram is my favourite of the social media platforms, especially since it takes the least time to catch up with, and it’s visual. And the mood on there is positive, on the whole. But I only joined it recently, so it might be a honeymoon period!
I love scuba diving, and ask pretty much every screen writer I meet to write me a scuba movie, or a TV show. Needless to say it hasn’t worked out — yet. Something with sharks and moray eels, buried treasure, underwater knife fights… Sort of a cross between Thunderball and The Island and Jaws, maybe with a dash of The Abyss thrown in for good measure. Set in an underwater paradise like Cocos Island. Please write it for me, I promise I will love you forever.
I don’t tend to envy other people’s careers — but I envy Danny Boyle getting to direct a Bond movie. I’m a Bond obsessive, ever since I saw Goldfinger as a kid. It’s been fascinating to watch all the changes and reinventions over the years. The Connery movies — and he’s still my favourite 007 — are looking very dated nowadays, like museum pieces, something for film students. Incidentally: I met Danny Boyle at a party once, and told him that Trainspotting had revitalised my faith in British movies at a time when I was thinking I should quit directing. He was very nice about it — exactly as he is when you see him on the TV.
(Update March 2019: Danny got fired!)
I was Tom Cruise’s hand double in the first Mission Impossible movie. He’s very short, and very charismatic. Ask me about it when you see me… ;-)