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Attack The Block - Luke Treadaway and Jodie Whittaker interview

Attack The Block

Interview by Rob Carnevale

LUKE Treadaway (pictured) and Jodie Whittaker talk about the appeal of filming Joe Cornish’s Attack The Block and their characters: Brewis, the perpetually stoned wannabe, and Sam the nurse.

They also talk about working with their young cast members and keeping up with their energy, even at 4am.

Q. Attack The Block is great fun. Why hasn’t anyone done this before over here at least because it seems like such a brilliant idea!
Jodie Whittaker: I think that’s why we’re so excited about it because it’s a British alien action movie and it’s done so well. It achieves everything it set out to achieve with the realism of the aliens and the portrayal of the youth. I think it takes a lot of balls to put it on and it needed a writer like Joe Cornish to do it. But it also needs someone like Big Talk [the production company] to get behind it. I think it’s often about funding. I mean, we’re setting this in a block, it features a group of kids who start out bad but end up good… it’s a bit of a difficult sell. We were so lucky that it happened now and we were a part of it, really.

Q. So, what was the appeal of Brewis for you Luke?
Luke Treadaway: Well, I thought Brewis was a brilliant part to play straight away really because I’ve met people like him and I know people like that, so I just thought I could nick things off of all my mates. But he’s great fun.

Q. How are your mates with that?
Luke Treadaway: They haven’t seen it yet! But they’ll be OK. It’s an homage.

Q. And what was the appeal of playing Sam?
Jodie Whittaker: I loved Sam because I usually go up for quite neurotic, on the brink women and she was incredibly practical and really straight and un-flappy. I really loved that about her. I also loved the fact that Joe had written… I mean, there’s a gang of girls in it as well but essentially the token woman was in normal clothes. She didn’t have a wet-look T-shirt, she didn’t suddenly have these outlandish skills that I’d never had before and I wasn’t crying and reaching out for someone to save me. He wrote Sam like he wrote everyone else – as a real person in a very heightened situation. I loved him for that… just writing some normal bird [laughs].

Q. So, how did you enjoy working with Joe, who makes his directorial debut with this?
Luke Treadaway: It was amazing. He has so much energy and so much confidence in the script he’d written and the world he was trying to show on-screen. He made it fun every day, and exciting. He’d written this incredibly tight script but he was always open to chucking ideas in there as well, which for a writer-director is often very hard to do. So, as his first film I can’t believe the confidence and fun that he seemed to be having with it, which was infectious for us all.

Q. And Jodie?
Jodie Whittaker: It was everything. The crew were amazing as well, so we just felt safe the whole time. It was hard and the first five weeks were in February and it was night shoots and so it was cold but it was a pleasure to get up and go into work. Luke and I saw a mini screening together before the cast and crew so we could do press on it, and it just surpassed our expectations. We were like two little kids high fiving and being very self involved [laughs].

Q. Have you been at any fan screenings? It’s been at a few festivals, where it’s been going down a storm…
Jodie Whittaker: We were at the premiere on Wednesday night and it was amazing. Everyone was shouting and clapping, so it was brilliant.
Luke Treadaway: I saw a midnight screening at South by Southwest in Austin, Texas, a few weeks ago and it was amazing. People were hollering and cheering… there was a round of applause when the title came up at the beginning. It was really exciting because a lot of people did wonder whether London street slang would be understood by Americans. But it’s been sold to Sony.

Q. Was that ever a consideration going in and being on-set, to give it a chance of being understood by a broader, more international audience?
Jodie Whittaker: Well, we love The Wire and that takes a good few episodes to understand. But that world is universal.

Q. How down with the slang were you beforehand? Did it take some picking up?
Jodie Whittaker: I’m rubbish. I tried to do it a couple of times with them [the kids] but they just looked at me and laughed. I then tried to make out I was doing some Northern thing… ‘wicked’!

Luke Treadway: I still go to fist-pump them all when I see them. They sort of say ‘do it’ but they’re a bit unsure. They know I’m down with them though [laughs].

Q. So, how was working with the boys?
Jodie Whittaker: They’re so brilliant. We all got on really well and they get on really well, which is incredibly important. They worked so hard every day and their energy levels were so high. We had to match them all the time. I mean, we are getting on a bit [laughs], so we were tired at 4am, but they were rapping or singing together. But they were brilliant and so much fun to work with. I loved being part of being with them at this early stage in their career. I mean, just to see where they’re going to be in 10 years. It’s really exciting because I think: “What a debut for them this is!”

Q. Did you find it fascinating watching them learn the process as they went along?
Luke Treadaway: It was really interesting for me doing some stuff at the beginning with them and then some stuff at the end and there were some little technical things that you could see they’d learned. It was an amazing learning experience for all of us. But there were so many elements of this film that they’ll take away. I just think they’ve had an incredible training through this film and they all give such amazing performances. I mean, they’re not like how they are in the film. I think people might tend to think it’s a form of street casting. But they’re playing characters that aren’t themselves.

Q. And how did you enjoy working alongside Nick Frost?
Luke Treadaway: Brilliant. I mean, he’s a great guy, who is very funny and we had a couple of days sat on the sofa smoking bongs together, which was great!

Read our review of Attack The Block

Read our interview with John Boyega