Bunny and the Bull - Julian Barratt interview
From Mighty Boosh to feature canine friend
Julian Barratt lived the role as a dog-loving Hungarian tramp in Bunny and the Bull. He tells Jonny Ensall about a tough shoot
Bunny and the Bull may well be the British comedy of 2009: quirky, hilarious and with a striking visual sensibility comparable to the best work of Michel Gondry or Spike Jonze. A talent for assembling richly detailed, dreamlike shots was not the only thing that director Paul King picked up from working on The Mighty Boosh, he also brought the Boosh boys – Noel Fielding and Julian Barratt – along with him to make his debut feature, casting them both as nightmarish characters appearing out of Stephen Turnbull (Edward Hogg)’s unpleasant memories.
Barratt was called on to play an eastern European tramp, ‘With an unusual predilection for dogs’ he explains. ‘I was surrounded by about 17 dogs on the day, so it was a very smelly set … I was covered in fur, and they were pissing all over me during takes. I didn’t really need to use any extra method to get into character on that one. I became basically a dog-soiled tramp in reality.’
Perhaps the closeness between actor and character extends further than that. Does he have a particular talent for playing half-remembered weirdoes? ‘I’d like to play more of them. Half-remembered weirdo: Julian Barratt [he laughs]. It was fun to play a slightly frightening character. With Paul’s film it’s kind of a comedy but it’s also a bit darker than that. With something that’s not based just in comedy you can be a bit weirder in a slightly realistic way. I quite enjoyed that aspect of doing the film.’
What about similarities between the film and The Mighty Boosh? ‘It looks like the Boosh because it uses the same sort of techniques and visual palettes a lot of time, so there’s an element of that visually … The techniques that are being used are very Gondry-esque. We developed a lot of them with Paul when we were doing the show basically – working on how to create a sort of magical world.’
For all the similarities however, Bunny and the Bull is its own feature, with a unique palette of characters to rival the best of the Boosh’s eerie entourage.