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Love's Kitchen - Lee Boardman interview

Love's Kitchen, Lee Boardman

Interview by Rob Carnevale

LEE Boardman talks about the appeal of playing a nice guy for a change alongside Dougray Scott and Gordon Ramsay in Love’s Kitchen, as well as why he’s never seen Ramsay looking so terrified.

He also talks about working with Bryan Singer on Jack The Giant Killer and why a movie version of HBO’s Rome is still a possibility.

Q. What appealed to you about playing Loz in Love’s Kitchen?
Lee Boardman: Well, it was a big opportunity for me and my reasons were two-fold. Firstly, it was the opportunity to play somebody who is a nice person, which never comes my way – or very rarely, so I was extremely flattered that [writer-director] James Hacking could think of me for a role like that. Also, James had also put his life and soul into this… and financially his own money into it. As a producer-filmmaker myself I admire anyone who has the guts to do something like that.

Q. And Loz is also the sort of person who always looks out for his friends…
Lee Boardman: The character’s stoicism and loyalty really appealed to me and it also afforded me the opportunity to actually have a girlfriend on-screen as well, which never usually come my way either [laughs]. I could see Michelle Ryan’s face drop when we first met [laughs]. But I thought: “I’m in the money!”

Q. She does jump all over you at one point in the film…
Lee Boardman: [Laughs] She did get to jump on me, yes, and I wasn’t prepared for it. She’s a remarkably strong lady. She had to learn lots of Israeli self defence techniques for the time she was playing The Bionic Woman, so I’d say she’s conservatively three times stronger than I am. She would constantly surprise and scare me by doing unexpected things like jumping on me in the middle of scenes or, off-screen, punching me really hard.

Q. So sharing a scene with Gordon Ramsay must have been a little less intimidating?
Lee Boardman: [Laughs] Well, Gordon’s barely in the film and yet he’s still found himself all over the posters! I actually knew Gordon before and he did those scenes for nothing. In fact, we all pretty much did it for nothing. But he came in at his own expense and I’ve never seen him as terrified as he was when he had to do his lines. I mean, Gordon can improvise on his feet because there’s an element of theatre to what he does on TV. But that’s not the man I see, and it’s not the bloke on Hell’s Kitchen. So, when it came to doing the scripted stuff he was utterly terrified. But he’s a lovely, lovely man, even though I don’t necessarily think he’s got a career as an actor [laughs]!

Q. Would he concur with that view?
Lee Boardman: Actually, Dougray [Scott] and I thought Gordon would be terrible but he was actually quite good. In fact, he was the best actor in the scene for parts of it! But I love Gordon. On the day he came in for his scenes, the catering team at Elstree Studios were so excited that they all brought in books for him to sign. So, because I knew him they asked me if he would and I said I was sure he’d be happy to. And he literally spent an hour and a half talking to them and looking at what they cooking. He made everyone’s day. He was charm itself to them all.

Gordon Ramsay in Love's Kitchen

Q. So, how did you get to know him in the first place?
Lee Boardman: We were guests together on Soccer AM a few years ago and our paths have kept crossing every now and then since then. But he’s away so much. I always have intentions of going to his restaurant and he always says I should come. But I live in Cheshire and whenever I’m in London it’s often at short notice. I have eaten in his eateries in the past, though, because he’s such an absolute perfectionist with his restaurants that I always know I’m in for a cracking night of food – and I am a foodie!

Q. Are you a dab hand in the kitchen?
Lee Boardman: I’m pretty good in the kitchen. In fact, I’m a darn site better in real life than Dougray. He did some lessons and went to see a chef a few times beforehand, who taught him how to chop properly. And he’s pretty good now. But when he went on those wild flights of fantasy talking about some of the fancy dishes he’d prepared I knew he was lying!

Q. Did you have to brush up on any kitchen know-how?
Lee Boardman: No, all I was required to do was goof around, which is second nature to me. My character is front of house, so there wasn’t any cooking required. I’m just serving people, so I let my imagination run wild. Although saying that, I did have to serve Simon Callow and I thought to myself that he’s probably eaten in some really posh restaurants in his time, so I hope he doesn’t judge me!

Q. And did he?
Lee Boardman: No [laughs]! But the best thing about this job was that all the actors were all so lovely. The director has also become a very close friend. So, the nicest thing about it was the joy of being there. There was a lot of love going on in the studio man and I had a really, really good time.

Q. Are you back to playing a villain in Jack The Giant Killer?
Lee Boardman: I am. I’ve just finished on that. But I’ve also got another film coming out next week called Being Sold, which is a very unusual film. It was shot in two days… we did 45 minutes each day for two days. It won an award at the London Independent Film Festival and that was a really unique experience. I play a hapless sort of drunken character who actually happens to be a nice person as well.

Love's Kitchen, Lee Boardman

Q. So how was your first experience of Hollywood on Jack The Giant Killer?
Lee Boardman: Well, I did [HBO’s] Rome for three years and that was a $170 million budget. They built ancient Rome in Cinecitta Studios in Rome, so that was my first experience of a massive Hollywood set. But it can be quite schizophrenic. As a filmmaker myself, going from one small set to a big set can be quite different. I’m producing a Falklands War project on the Isle of Man in January, so I can go from working on tiny budgets like that to then working on a huge American film sometimes at the same time. I did London Boulevard a couple of years ago at the same time as I was doing a film called Leila.

Now, the budget for that was £28,000 and then, on my days off, I was going to the set of London Boulevard and found myself stood opposite Colin Farrell and working with William Monaghan. You have to keep your thoughts in check and maintain a focus.

Q. But as a filmmaker, do you relish the opportunity to peak over the shoulders of people like Bryan Singer [Jack The Giant Killer] and Bill Monaghan to gain some tips?
Lee Boardman: Oh, that’s 100% the best thing about being on those projects – getting the chance to watch them. Bryan Singer is a genius. He really is. His energy levels are up to maximum all the time on-set. I do a really good impression of him as well… a loveable one. But he has particular voice and accent and I’ve got it down to a tee, so I walk around my house directing my children in the style of Bryan Singer! They don’t know what I’m doing, of course but I do it for my own pleasure. But it was the same working for Bill Monaghan as well, it was a great opportunity to work with people like that. Bill is such a sweet-heart and Bryan is just mercurial. To start your career with The Usual Suspects while you’re still in your 20s is quite a feat and to be directed by him was a thrill for me.

And I first met Bill in The Groucho Club to talk about London Boulevard and all I could think was: “He wrote The Departed! He wrote The Departed!” These guys are so talented, so it’s always great to be working with people like that.

Q. You’ve mentioned in previous interviews that a Rome movie is still on the cards. Is that the case?
Lee Boardman: Rome is always bubbling way. Bruno Heller is the creator of Rome but he’s quite busy right now with The Mentalist on TV, so his time has been taken up. But I hear various things at different times. Sometimes, he’ll say it could still happen, other times he’ll say there’s no way. But then I’ll see an interview with Kevin McKidd and he’ll say it’s happening. So, it’s always bubbling. I’d love it if it did happen because I’m in it. That was the first question I asked Bruno when he first started talking about it: “Am I in it?” And he said: “Of course!” But there’s only about seven of us left, who have not been killed, so the screenplay does revolve around us. I had a great time on Rome and Bruno is such a fantastic writer. So, I’d love it if something did happen.

Love’s Kitchen is released in UK cinemas on Friday, June 24, 2011.