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Is Anybody There? - Bill Milner interview

Bill Milner in Is Anybody There?

Interview by Rob Carnevale

BILL Milner talks about starring alongside Sir Michael Caine for British comedy-drama Is Anybody There?, succeeding in the art of magic and what it was like to work with the late Elizabeth Spriggs.

Q. How did you first get involved with Is Anybody There?
Bill Milner: I was sent the script by my agent and as soon as I read it I loved it. I’d already heard that such a brilliant cast were being involved, so I was sold already. I was just so happy that I could picked for such a brilliant part.

Q. What was it like working with Sir Michael Caine?
Bill Milner: It was amazing. It was just really exciting that for only my second film I was already working with such brilliant actors. I just think it’s a really good privilege to experience all that. I think I learned a lot from them. Acting around such brilliant people, you just pick stuff up without even knowing it and I think I learned a lot.

Q. Was there much practical joking from your co-stars?
Bill Milner: Um, I think there was the occasional joke, but we were all fairly nice to each other [laughs].

Q. You worked with Eric Sykes on Son of Rambow and now you’re working with Sir Michael Caine. What differences do you find between working with them and some of your younger co-stars?
Bill Milner: I don’t think there is much difference really. We just got on really well and became friends. We had a really good relationship and, like all actors, made a nice friendship. So, I don’t think there is much of a difference.

Q. How long did it take you to perfect the card magic trick routine and can you see yourself one day appearing at The Magic Circle?
Bill Milner: It came quite naturally. It looked quite hard. They can look effective. I don’t think I was good enough to do more than one disappearing trick. But it was fun and that’s what I like about film. You get to learn new skills and things like that. But I don’t think I’ll ever be a magician.

Q. Taking the name of the film, is there anybody there in the after-life?
Bill Milner: I’m not sure. It’s a question that raises a lot of different things but I’d like to think there is.

Q. Can you just say a final word about working with Elizabeth Spriggs in what was to be her final role before her death?
Bill Milner: When we were shooting the scene where I give her the rose, a couple of days later she wrote me a letter saying: “Thank you for the rose.” She was such a lovely woman.

Read our review of Is Anybody There?