Given his talent, his popularity, and his face, it's amazing that it's taken this long for comedian Ross Noble to star in a film.
What's even more incredible is that he chose Stitches - a small budget horror-comedy shot in Co Wicklow for his big screen debut.
Mixing teen romp with slasher movie and throwing in loads of tributes along the way, Stitches' style and set-up recalls the great Swedish chiller-comedy Frostbite - perfect for watching last thing on a Friday or Saturday night and guaranteed a lengthy DVD afterlife.
Noble tells Harry Guerin about working with Irish director Conor McMahon on the movie, ticking a few things off his own bucket list and his VHS past.
Harry Guerin: Ross, you're known as a big film fan. When I was watching Stitches I thought to myself that if you weren't in the movie you'd be one of the people sitting in the cinema watching it.
Ross Noble: Exactly!
You must get offered loads of movie stuff - this isn't the first script to come your way.
The big thing, especially for stand-ups, is to get you to take your stand-up, or sort of the essence of what you do on stage, and then transpose that into other things. I mean, the obvious kind of lazy thing is just, y'know, panel shows and all that type of stuff. And with the acting it's kind of, 'Let's just build a character that's basically him and just put him in a hat'. Or it's comedy with a small 'c' - you go, [adopts dreary voice] 'Oh, really...' In fact, exactly the sort of thing that you would imagine me sitting at home watching and saying, 'Oh, **** off!' [Laughs]
So the script for Stitches arrived and you just said, 'I have to do it'.
Yeah. They had me at 'knife in the face'!
And could Conor McMahon the director actually believe he'd got you on board? If I was making this movie and I wanted you for it I would think, 'There's no point sending that to him; he wouldn't do it. He's too big for doing this kind of thing'.
[Exclaims] Oh, I don't think so! To be honest with you he still hasn't told me who his first choice was! He didn't write it for me; he wrote it and then I saw it and went, 'Right'. So I must ask him who his first choice was! We don't know who said no! [Laughs]
Stitches was filmed in Wicklow. What was it like for you shooting it in Ireland?
Amazing. I was actually really spoilt for, like, a first proper feature film. It couldn't have been a more fun thing. I mean, for me, because I'm such a massive movie fan, I'd sort of hang around and watch what was going on - just spend me whole time standing around! You'd see people going, 'You know you can just go [to the trailer]?' and I'd just be watching how they were setting things up. The crew was just brilliant - all the actors, all the crew. It was just the most relaxed [thing]. There was no egos. Actually, that probably means that I was the dick! That's what they say, isn't it? 'If everyone's nice then you're the dick'!
So, a fanboy's dream...
Also, there's so many things that I got to do on this film which are not just things to do in films, but things to do in life that were on my bucket list. For example, to appear as a character whose hand comes out of the ground like that [shoves hand up in the air] - massive tick. To have your face cast by the prosthetics people and to sit there and have a complete perfect replica of your face staring back at you is amazing. All the prosthetic make-up and having me face slashed to pieces - amazing. How many people - [shouts] HOW MANY PEOPLE! - get to see what they would look like if their nose was rotted away?! 'Here's a knife, there's an umbrella - throw that through a girl's face'. It was just so much fun.
Ross Noble as Stitches
Conor McMahon has a gift for doing the humour and the splatter.
What he's managed to do with the resources that he's got is so phenomenal. When Sam Raimi was given 300 million and told, 'Right, make that'... That's the terrifying thing - you think, 'What is going to happen when somebody comes along and says to Conor, 'Right, here's $100m, make that'. I think we're going to see something that's going to be so ****** up! [Cackles] He's brilliant. He's the most unassuming lovely bloke and then he's like, 'Right, what we're going to do is slash his guts out!'
Would you be interested in doing serious roles?
That's one of the things with Stitches: even though it is funny, the thing that appealed to me about that character was that he's not funny in an obvious way. I tried to get the whole thing as controlled [as possible]. I wanted it to be funny but in a real downbeat way so that people weren't going, 'Oh, well that's just Ross dressed as a clown'.
Yeah, I'd be interested in doing stuff but there's serious and taking itself seriously. If somebody came along and said to play a serial killer who isn't undead then I think so. But I'm very much... I think there's a lot of serious actors that can do that serious stuff, whereas I'd definitely like to do things like Paul Reiser in Aliens. He was a stand-up and suddenly he's playing the evil company man. Things like that, which aren't necessarily Shakespeare.
You've got a great face for period drama
Yeah, well, you never know. King Charles I!
What would be some of your favourite horror movies?
One of the big inspirations is the Maniac Cop series. When I was a kid I was really into things like Gremlins and Ghostbusters and all that type of stuff. I didn't really go for the real out-and-out what you would call video nasties until I got a bit older! On a Friday night we'd get to go to the video shop and there was a thing where it was like five quid and you could get six videos. And I would watch two or three on the Friday night. Maybe one on the Saturday afternoon and one on the Sunday.
This sounds exactly like my life.
It was all things like [booming voice] 'Sniper with Tom Berenger!' and things like that - the sort of stuff that you wouldn't necessarily get on the telly! I used to love things like [BBC Two show] Moviedrome with Alex Cox - he always had things like Alligator and Q - The Winged Serpent and Repo Man. If I wanted to get Critters 3 I had to get something that I could watch but my mum could watch as well on the Friday and then I could sneak something in! Maniac Cop 3: Badge of Silence was a hard sell for the family viewing!
There was a charm to the finds back then – some of that has been lost now.
The thing I used to love was you'd put the trailers on and you would see something and you would go, ' I've never even heard of that film!' And you'd go back to the video shop and go, 'Have you got that?'
I remember it well.
For me, I used to get VHSs and they were called things like 'Action' and it was like, [adopts voiceover voice], 'The Making of Runaway Train'. 'In Invasion USA, they created the Soviets coming to suburbia'. All that sort of stuff. Whereas now, all that 'making of' DVD extras, the commentaries... If I'd have had DVD commentaries when I was kid I would've never left the house! Can you imagine?! Kids now can watch a film and then watch it again straight away after [with the commentary]. My wife goes mad with me! We built a cinema in our house - proper metre-thick walls. It was the first THX fully configured 3D home cinema in Britain! [Laughs] And I never watch 3D because it's ****! I'll watch a film and the end credits will roll, and my wife will go, [yawns] 'I'll just let the dogs out'. And by the time she's come back in I've put the commentary on! And it's like, 'Here we ****** go!'
Would you have any interest in writing or directing something yourself?
Yes. I've got a thing. It's something that I've long thought about but thought, 'What are the chances?' The amount of people who write screenplays and come up with ideas and all that and it just never happens. Part of me has gone, 'Is it worth [trying]?' But having done Stitches and the way Conor works - he gets so much for the money. So hopefully I'll get that finished and give it to Conor and see what he can do with it.
Maybe you should start getting the Oscar speech ready.
To be honest, a film of the nature I'm writing, I don't think it's ever won an Oscar!
It would be good, though, to hear Maniac Cop 3 referenced in an Oscar speech.
Could you imagine?!
Stitches is in cinemas now.