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Flushed Away - Shane Richie interview

Flushed Away

Interview by Rob Carnevale

FORMER EastEnders stars Shane Richie talks about the pleasure of making animated adventure Flushed Away and some possible plans for the future…

Q. You’re new to this animation game. At what point did you realise the volume of work that was necessary and how easy was it to come back months later and hit the same level consistently?
Shane Richie: I’ve never done something where the process takes so long. For me, it took the best part of 18 months – at least and that was one studio day! But I enjoyed the process. A lot of actors say they find it quite daunting, being on your own in a studio. But I found it quite liberating after doing some of the stuff that I’ve done in the past, being surrounded by a lot of actors.

The strange thing for me was being filmed. I was never aware that you got filmed when you were doing animation. Of course, I was quite animated when I was doing it because I wanted to get into the part and then four months later you’d come back and they’d show you a very early animation of what you’d done and you go: “Wow, that’s me! That’s me up there!”

So, I enjoyed seeing it all come together like that. But then once you see it in its entirety, then you go, “wow, that really is me!”

Q. What attracted you to this project in the first place?
Shane: What attracted me was when they said I could have a week in LA and get out of Albert Square for a while. I thought that was lovely. I’m a big fan… I didn’t actually know much about Wallace & Gromit other than my kids collected some of the memorabilia which goes for a fair price at fairs now. But I was a big fan of Creature Comforts, which I loved very much. I’ve got the DVDs. When they said it’s Dreamworks, it was like: “Wow, how can you not say yes.” I ended up paying them, which I need to talk to Jeffrey about later!

Q. How did you find the character and the tone for him?
Shane Richie: I shouted a lot. When they first approached me about doing this, I had this great vision of stepping away from anything Cockney or being a Londoner. I thought: “Ok, Sid, Sidney, Sidney in Kensington, right, [in posh accent] hello my name is Sidney, I’m a rat from Kensington…”

But they said: “No, no, no that’s not what we want you to do Shane.” They showed me this picture of this dirty big fat rat with buck teeth and a quiff and I sort of got him straight away. I knew what they were looking for then.

But I remember when we first started I was doing a lot of shouting and they told me to try and pull it back a little bit. Then like anything, after a while you get to see the early animation and you go: “I see what you’re doing now.”

Going back to something Hugh said, there were originally these other two characters that were servants and Sid did quite a bit with these two but sadly that’s been cut out – although it will be available on DVD.

There was also a lot of improv. There’s an adult version you’ll love!

Q. You’re steeped in musical theatre. If you had the gift of a classical musical you could do in the West End for four months, what would it be?
Shane: Well, there’s talk of me doing something. I was doing Grease or Boogie Nights when Hugh was here doing Oklahoma! We spoke briefly about musical theatre and what a great stamina it gives you as an actor doing nine shows a week. There’s talk of doing Willy Wonka – turning that into a stage musical, which my name has been attached to for not next year but the year after. So, I’d like to do something like that – something new. I’m too old to do Grease.

Read our review of Flushed Away

Read our interview with Hugh Jackman