Three And Out: Stars defend content as Aslef members protest at premiere
Story by Jack Foley
THE stars of British comedy drama Three And Out have defended the film’s content despite a protest from train drivers union Aslef at the film’s UK premiere in Leicester Square.
Mackenzie Crook and Colm Meaney were among the film’s stars at the red carpet premiere on Monday (April 21, 2008). But while they were happy to speak to reporters and greet fans, they did so as protesters hit back at the film’s depiction of suicide victims on London’s Underground.
The drivers handed out leaflets to the assembled crowd which read: “We hope you enjoy the movie tonight, but please remember that for train drivers like ourselves, deaths on the railway are never funny.”
While Aslef’s Steve Grant maintained that drivers who were unfortunate enough to hit someone often suffered flashbacks and were unable to do their jobs.
“We don’t find the subject humorous at all,” he told the BBC.
Crook, a star of BBC sitcom The Office and the blockbuster Pirates of the Caribbean movies, was even confronted by a protester who challenged him to explain what was funny about the subject matter.
But Crook maintained his sense of calm and later responded to reporters: “They are quite right to come down and point that someone falling under a train is distressing. But it doesn’t dwell on those issues and it’s not a controversial film.
It’s a comedy and it’s a very funny comedy. It’s a road movie about friendship and human emotions.”
Crook and Meaney hit back
Speaking ahead of the UK premiere and in light of the controversy, both Crook and Meaney were keen to point out that the film wasn’t intended to cause offence. They also predicted it would surprise a lot of viewers who see it, given the real themes behind the story.
When asked what he considered the film to be about, Crook told reporters at the London press junket: “It’s about human emotions and friendships. It’s basically a road movie and it’s the friendship that develops between the Paul [Mackenzie Crook] and Tommy [Colm Meaney] character that is the main body of the movie and where the humour comes from – the situations they get into.
“I think it’s a brilliant premise but it’s quite ridiculous as well and you soon realise that and the character, Paul, soon realises that it’s not as easy as perhaps he first thought… on paper, it seems like an easy way to get some money but he soon realises it’s not.”
He added: “A film about suicide and people jumping under trains wouldn’t be funny and is not something I would want to be a part of. But this film isn’t about that. It’s a very small part of the premise.”
Crook went on to admit that he wished London Transport – which gave permission to the filmmakers to use locations – had got together with the unions before the film’s release and agreed on the issues involved.
“We did film on the Tube and they were sent the script and approved it. It would have been very difficult to make the movie without those scenes that were filmed on the Tube.”
His co-star, Meaney – who is set to star in the American remake of BBC series Life on Mars [playing the Gene Hunt character] – agreed that the controversy surrounding the film had been taken out of context.
“I think it’s people that haven’t seen the film to be honest with you,” he told IndieLondon. “I think if you see the film you realise it’s not a film about train drivers, it’s not a film about suicide, it’s a film about people and their relationships, their emotions, how we fail to achieve what it is we really want through stupidity and for various reasons.
“I think the real emotional core of the film and what makes you laugh and cry… you’re not crying about the suicides or any of those apparently obvious issues. What you’re crying about is the failure of people to understand each other.
“The fact that Tommy [my character] just can’t get it right… you get it from Imelda’s performance. She still has great fondness for him but she knows he’s a f**k up and she’s not going to have him back.
“You see Mackenzie. His character’s life is a mess and he learns how to live his life from a guy who’s completely f**ked up his own life. They’re the emotional strains and pillars of the film, so I think it’s a very superficial analysis of the film to say we’ve made a comedy about suicide. It’s not about suicide.
“What this guy has chosen to do is actually very uplifting. He’s sick of his life, he doesn’t want his life to be in other people’s hands, so he’s made a very clear decision.”
Three And Out opens in UK cinemas on April 25, 2008. Read our review
The full Three And Out interviews with Mackenzie Crook and Colm Meaney will be published later this week…