Bunny and The Bull - Edward Hogg interview
Star of Mighty Boosh-affiliated feature film
As the star of White Lightnin’ and now Mighty Boosh-affiliated feature Bunny and the Bull, Ed Hogg has become one of UK film’s hottest properties. James Mottram meets the man with the Midas touch
Edward Hogg doesn’t get recognised. Not yet, anyway. ‘I think I look very different to how I look on screen,’ he says, relaxing in his agent’s London offices. ‘I find even if I’ve been at a screening people don’t know who I am!’ Admittedly, he’d look pretty feral if he resembled Jesco White, the Appalachian tap dance legend he played in the recent White Lightnin’. And with his dark locks currently trimmed, he looks little like the longhaired Stephen Turnball, his character in new film Bunny and the Bull. ‘Maybe I have a bit of the chameleon quality,’ he muses.
Not that the 30-year-old can count on preserving his anonymity for much longer. His staggering turn in White Lightnin’ has seen him nominated for Most Promising Newcomer at next month’s British Independent Film Awards and, along with Bunny and the Bull, has marked Hogg out as one the nation’s brightest prospects. ‘You have to be very lucky to get into a film,’ he remarks. ‘And I’ve been fortunate enough now to be in two which are more than just your average run-of-the-mill films. I don’t want to sound wanky – but they’re both pieces of art.’
Drawing on everything from Withnail and I to Paddington Bear, Bunny and the Bull has cult comedy written all over it. With Hogg playing an obsessive-compulsive who hasn’t left his house in a year, it’s a road movie of the mind as he recounts a trip he took to Europe with Bunny (Simon Farnaby), an inveterate gambler who doesn’t always treat his friend with the utmost respect. ‘Stephen’s a bit of a wally, isn’t he?’ laughs Hogg. ‘He’s a bit of a doormat. He lets Bunny walk all over him. And he doesn’t really have any other friends.’
Written and directed by Paul King, director of cult TV show The Mighty Boosh, the film unfolds in animated flashbacks to Europe triggered by souvenirs from the trip. These objects are incorporated, like props, into a highly stylized world of memories that spans the contintent without ever leaving Stephen’s flat. It’s an imaginative approach that gives the film its unique flavour, but it did initially mislead Hogg. ‘I remember the first time I read it, I did think, “If I got this job, we’ll be going all around Europe, which would be very nice.” And then I realised we’d actually be going to a studio in Nottingham for six weeks. Not quite the same thing!’
Indeed it is not – though Hogg is perhaps not best suited to continental extravagance. The second of four children, he was born in Doncaster and grew up in Sheffield, where his mother was a teacher and his father a civil engineer. More interested in playing football than acting, Hogg admits he was ‘quite aggressive at home’ in his teenage years. It was only when he helped form punk band Porno King – where he was lead singer – that he was able to channel that aggression. ‘That was a huge turning point in my life. I felt a lot calmer and a lot more happy with who I was.’
When the band split, Hogg transferred his love of performance to the stage and was eventually accepted at RADA. Theatre is still ‘the thing I love to do the most’, says Hogg, who is currently at the National Theatre in a production of Polish playwright Tadeusz Slobodzianek’s Our Class. He’s also completed another film, Ollie Kepler’s Expanding Purple World, about a man who retreats into himself after his girlfriend dies.
If this suggests an attachment to British film, it should be mentioned that Hogg has been to LA to do the inevitable round of auditions. ‘When you go for American films, a lot of the time, it’s not for independent cinema,’ he says. ‘You go up for big studio movies. It’s like a lottery. It’s like a one in a million chance that you get those.’ His first experience of a Hollywood production was a brief role in the Alfie remake. ‘I can remember being on that set and seeing Jude Law and Sienna Miller, and I could see the relationship they had with the director and I really envied it,’ he recalls.
Finally obtaining that special working relationship on Bunny and the Bull and White Lightnin’, the results are plain for all to see. With the latter due for a 2010 release in the US, it can only be a matter of time before the studios start courting him. Here’s hoping we don’t lose Hogg to Hollywood just yet.
Bunny and the Bull is on selected release from Fri 27 Nov.