I subscribe to the podcast of Mark Kermode and Simon Mayo’s film reviews on the BBC’s Radio 5 Mark and Simon being away on their summer holidays at the moment, their replacements, known as Floyd and Boyd, have been doing a sterling job. On Friday’s show they interviewed Stephen Frears and Tamsin Greig about the coming film Tamara Drewe, which they respectively directed and acted in. I loved this exchange:
Stephen Frears: There was this wonderful book written by Posy [Simmons]. There was Moira Buffini’s wonderful script. It was like, you know, robbing your kid’s bank. It was just a goldmine of jokes and funny things.
Floyd or Boyd: Now Tamsin, this is Stephen’s standard line – I’ve interviewed him once or twice before. His position basically is, Well, there’s this marvellous screenplay, then I came across these marvellous actors, like Tamsin Greig, then I just sort of turned up and they did it all really, while I just stood around. Now I’m guessing he probably has a little more input than that.
Tamsin Greig: It’s a little bit like — You know when you have a family gathering and there’s somebody there that everybody loves, and everybody trusts, and something just happens. Well, that’s the difference with Stephen Frears. When he’s not there, things don’t happen. But him just being there, and people trusting him, and having that relationship … I mean a lot of the crew have worked with him ten fifteen, twenty years or some more than that. There’s something palpable in the room, and you just get caught up in that. He just stands there and allows you, and so you do, and you never feel like a tit.
Yes, I know, from one point of view they were blowing smoke, but there’s something to it, just the same. It describes, for example, a good part of what I tried to do when editing the School Magazine: to allow the illustrators, editors and writers, so they did, and very rarely felt like tits.