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The Boat That Rocked - Tom Sturridge interview (Exclusive)

The Boat That Rocked

Compiled by Jack Foley

TOM Sturridge got his big breakthrough role in The Boat That Rocked. The son of director Charles Sturridge and actress Phoebe Nicolls, Tom has previously appeared in Fairy Tale: A True Story, Gulliver’s Travels, Being Julia and Vanity Fair.

In The Boat That Rocked he is cast as Carl a teenager who has a once in a lifetime experience when he joins the crew of a pirate radio ship. He talks to IndieLondon exclusively about some of his experiences on Richard Curtis’ movie.

Q: What’s your favourite scene in The Boat That Rocked?
Tom Sturridge: My favourite scene in the movie? I don’t know…I don’t have a particular favourite scene; my character fortunately gets to have quite a few one on one scenes, with everybody, which is kind of unusual within the set-up of the film. So, I think that just being able to do a scene with Philip Seymour Hoffman or a scene with Emma Thompson or with Bill Nighy on my own… those are my favourite moments.

Q: What are your favourite songs from the film?
Tom Sturridge: I think that The Kinks’s song at the beginning is extraordinary and Leonard Cohen’s So Long Marianne is probably my favourite from the whole film.

Q: You spend a lot of time in or under the water. How did you cope with being wet and cold all the time?
Tom Sturridge: You just have to deal with it. A lot of the stuff that was shot in the studio was shot in a tank, which, to be honest, is kind of like the best swimming pool that you have ever been in, in the world. It is heated to bath temperature. And then the stuff that was done in the sea, you get to wear a wet suit underneath. Listen; if you are being paid to go swimming then you are obviously doing something ok. To complain about it would be ridiculous. It’s not mining.

Q: It seems that the worst part of filming was when anyone had to go out in the little tug boat to the pirate ship. What was your experience of that?
Tom Sturridge: At the beginning of the film, when I first arrive at the boat I was in this tug boat and basically they moored it still but somehow underneath the sea, they put it on a gimbal which shook it an extraordinary amount and then they had rain machines everywhere spraying me. So that was probably the only moment in the film where I did feel relatively sea sick.

Q: There cannot have been very much room to move when you filmed scenes in the cabin or the bunks?
Tom Sturridge: I’m pretty ok with enclosed spaces but all of that stuff was done in the studio and so it wasn’t too bad.

Q: How did you get the part in The Boat That Rocked?
Tom Sturridge: I battled for it, basically. Obviously everyone else in this film is enormously successful in their fields, so they were pretty much just asked [to be in the film]. But I know that I had to ask Richard [Curtis] to see me and I did several auditions and he was eventually foolish enough to allow me to be part of it.

Q: You are the youngest guy on board, so how did you go about finding out the remarkable true story of the days of pirate radio?
Tom Sturridge: You begin just by listening to the music, just to get into the era, the period. For the story of pirate radio itself there is a lot of literature and, more specifically, a lot of audio footage that was transmitted from Radio London and Radio Caroline. Also, I think it’s important to know that this is Richard’s ideal and fantasy of what it would have been like. When he was lying as a child, listening to these radio stations, he imagined that boat to be like this. I don’t imagine that he was ever trying to recreate any of the real pirate radio stations.

Q: There are about 60 songs in The Boat That Rocked. Did you find you were getting a musical education?
Tom Sturridge: Oh completely! I definitely was familiar with 1960s music through my dad. He gave me a lot of his records from when he was younger. But Richard has an encyclopaedic knowledge of pop music, from any era. So any day there would be a new song that you would think…wow, what is that!

Q: Can you recall what the first record that you bought was?
Tom Sturridge: It was Gangsters Paradise by Coolio. It was used in the Michelle Pfeiffer film Dangerous Minds but that wasn’t why I liked it. There was just something special about the number.

Q: What was the last record that you bought?
Tom Sturridge: It was The Author by Karima Francis.

Q: Can you name three of your all-time favourite discs?
Tom Sturridge: Astral Weeks by Van Morrison, Gimme Shelter by The Rolling Stones and I Can’t Write Left Handed by Bill Withers.

Q: Is there a record that you would like to smash?
Tom Sturridge: Complicated by Avril Lavigne because I’m embarrassed that I used to fancy her when I was younger.

Q: Was there a least favourite part in the making of The Boat That Rocked?
Tom Sturridge: I don’t think there was a least favourite part to be honest. I don’t think you can complain ever … A) About being allowed to make a film…B) Being allowed to make a film that lets you go to work every morning and watching the sun come over the ocean, listening to the sound of Bob Dylan’s Girl From The North Country playing over the PA…or the sight of Nick Frost fishing for mackerel over the side. That is life as it should be lived – at least for us on the moment.

The Boat That Rocked is available to buy on DVD & Blu-ray from Monday, September 7, 2009.