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Bunny & The Bull - Edward Hogg and Simon Farnaby interview

Bunny & The Bull

Interview by Rob Carnevale

EDWARD Hogg and Simon Farnaby talk about their experiences of working on the surreal road-trip comedy Bunny & The Bull, coping with male nudity and staring down bulls.

They also discuss some of the more personal elements of the movie, gambling addictions, grandfathers and what they both plan (and hope) to do next…

Q. What was it like filming in the environments created by Paul King’s brilliant set designs?
Edward Hogg: Well, it wasn’t as extraordinary as it looks because they were built. A lot of the sets were actually there… it wasn’t green screen most of it. So, we were able to immerse ourselves fully into that world because it was actually there. You weren’t having to imagine it, which was brilliant.

Simon Farnaby: It was just like doing any other studio film, just built out of extraordinary things.

Q. Did you ever find yourself pausing to marvel at the ingenuity of it, though, particularly as so much was created using such a small budget [£1 million]?
Simon Farnaby: We had to concentrate on the acting! But it was amazing to walk around because there’d be a set like the bookies, which was made out of cardboard, and then you’d finish the scene, they’d destroy it and then build an underpass made out of newspapers. It was pretty amazing. It was always interesting to go in there in the morning and see what had sprung up overnight. The fairground made out of cuckoo clock parts was pretty amazing. On the other hand, the set where the flat was just very realistic, so that was normal acting [laughs]. That was the only normal thing on the set… apart from the bull field, which was on location.

Q. Simon, I gather your late grandfather informs quite a bit of the central characters, which must have made it particularly personal for you?
Simon Farnaby: Yeah, years ago Paul [King] and I did a theatre show, which was where we came up with this theme of gambling and addiction. My grandad was addicted to gambling and Paul found it hilarious! So, we sort of used a lot based on stories I told Paul of my grandad. He had a wardrobe that went into the pub next door that he used to go and play cards in. He would bet every single penny he got. So, there’s a lot of my young grandad in Bunny. But once the character is up and running, I didn’t wonder around going: “This means so much to me…”

Q. Do you gamble?
Simon Farnaby: Well, I won £300 last night on the Republic of Ireland-France game. I had Robbie Keane first goal and 1-0 to Ireland at the end of 90 minutes on a double at 60-1. I put down a fiver. So, that was fantastic. If it was going to go there way, I figured it would be tight, it would probably be Keane. I imagined it would go to penalties, so I didn’t bet on the final result… I stopped short of that.

Q. I gather you both lived together while filming. Did that help to inform the camaraderie that exists between you?
Simon Farnaby: That was more lack of budget… But it was good. We were pleased to hear we’d be living together. I think they gave us the nicest place, which had a big balcony.

Edward Hogg: We’re both smokers so we were able to go outside a lot.

Simon Farnaby: We’d have a few beers and go through the lines for the next day… come up with some new ideas to throw at Paul. I imagine it was a bit like those guys in Hunger, who lived together. They’d rehearse constantly for that 25-minute scene between Michael Fassbender and Liam Cunningham.

Edward Hogg: We were doing the humorous version of that… laughing constantly. But it was very pleasant. We got told off on the last night because we got too drunk and made too much noise. But that’s all part of it [laughs].

Q. Ed, you pay the painfully shy, introverted character, which, I suppose, was a blessing when it came to avoiding the full frontal nude scene?
Edward Hogg: I did do some full nude scenes but they didn’t make the final cut! I had to do it several times and the first time I wasn’t even meant to be. Paul just came up to me…. there were about 100 extras in the room and he said: “Ed, we can see the top of your underpants just in shot. Would you mind taking your trousers off and pulling your underpants down?” I got very shy and said: “I don’t mind but is there anything you can put over my penis and balls?” So, we went away with the costume lady and kind of gaffer taped a sock over it, which looked odd and required a near total skin graft afterwards.

[My co-star] Veronica [Echegui] then had to pull by trousers down [in the scene] and said something in Spanish along the lines of: “What the f**k is that on your crotch!?” Everybody laughed and the extras who weren’t very interested suddenly were. So, I had to take the sock off and show my penis but it never made it into the final cut. I also had to show my penis again in the sex scene but, again, it didn’t make the final cut. I have done nude in a few things before, so my cock and balls are always out. I’d do it now… but I won’t! I think during Simon’s scene, though, I kept laughing and we had to do about nine takes!

Q. So Simon, how was it for you?
Simon Farnaby: Yeah, I wanted to get it done pretty quickly and then he [Ed] kept pissing his pants, so we had to do so many takes. I was like: “Come on, let’s do it this time.” But then he’d crack up. But we got it in the can eventually because Paul started shouting: “F**king get it together!” We did it clothed first time and then Paul said: “Let’s try one naked.” It serves the scene.

Q. And how was staring down a bull in real life?
Simon Farnaby: Terrifying….

Edward Hogg: He was frightened by a lethargic bull [laughs]!

Simon Farnaby: I think I might try and make out that it was very aggressive. But it wasn’t… it was a very placid, ambling bull. They said it was a stunt bull. I said: “What the hell is that?” But they said it was supposed to be very good at commands and it would obey the guy with the whistle. But it was just a dim-witted bull that just wondered around. It never got out of this ring-fenced electric fence. They said it would never escape from it, but it did. So, we were in this pitch-black field and they lost it. They didn’t know where it went because it disappeared. There was a stunt bull team running around in the dark screaming out: “Where is it?” They eventually got it and put some rope through its nose and just pulled it towards me! It was relatively frightening when it got near to me but that was about it, although it was a pretty memorable evening.

Q. This is a big year for you both in terms of raising your profile. Simon, it’s your feature film debut and Ed, you’ve also taken the lead in White Lightnin’. Have you noticed that things are starting to happen for you?
Edward Hogg: I think I maybe go up for auditions I maybe wouldn’t have before, but now I’m competing against actors that you think: “F**k, they’re going to give him the job, aren’t they? He’s much more famous than I am!” I guess in your dreams you think that doors will open and people will say: “I saw your film and I’d love you to be in my film.” But that doesn’t happen… you’re still auditioning.

Q. And Simon?
Simon Farnaby: Yeah, but there might be actors saying that about you. “It’s that bloke from White Lightnin’! Bloody Hogg!” I’ve just done a huge movie [Your Highness] with Natalie Portman, James Franco, Toby Jones and Charles Dance. It’s by David Gordon Green, who did Pineapple Express. That was like three months. It’s a smaller part than Bunny and a different sort of picture, a studio film. But it’s been nice. Things move… but probably a bit more slowly than you might hope. You still have to find the right parts.

Read our review of Bunny & The Bull