FRONT Magazine


We recently had a chat with Joe Gilgun, best known as Woody from This Is England and its telly followups This Is England ’86 and This Is England ’88 (out next week on DVD). He’s in Misfits now and all. He’s fucking cool. He also talks a LOT, so be warned, this interview’s REALLY long. Part of it is him and us just quoting Alan Partridge for a while. Yeah, it’s pretty self-indulgent. There’s also an exclusive deleted scene at the end though, you lucky shits.

Hi Joe, let’s do an interview.
Yeah, man. The good thing about interviews is how arrogant they make you feel. I go out into the woods afterwards and shout “Look how successful I am”.

Like the first one you do, you’re super humble and then eventually you’re going “Yeah, I’m the best”?
Yeah, “everybody can nosh me off”. Only nobody would.

Do you ever approach people with that statement? “I’m Joe Gilgun, nosh me off”?
That wouldn’t go well. I’ll tell you right now. It doesn’t matter what level of fame you’re at, it wouldn’t go down well. I don’t know, having said that. Thinking of people like Tom Cruise, I bet he could say that. Like “I’m Tom Cruise, nosh me off”. I’m not there yet. I’m certainly not there. I am pathetic. I get really panicky and worry about the most pathetic things. I’m quite pathetic. I went to this girl’s house for a date once, had a seven-hour panic attack, and came home.

You were at her house having a seven-hour panic attack?
Yeah. Brilliant, innit? Absolutely phenomenal. That’s what you want out of a date and that’s the impression you want to leave with a girl when you’re off the television – a seven-hour panic attack and then home. Fucking hilarious. I’ve got genuine problems. Genuine. I just can’t find a girlfriend and I don’t just snog anyone or sleep with anyone. I don’t do that. I wish I could. But fuck man, you’d end up with syphilis. How fun. Good. You’d get a lot of syphilis. Mum? Didn’t Al Capone die of syphilis? I’m not very successful with girls. I’m too busy making a twat of myself. I’m one of them idiots. I want to be more like, who do I want to be like? Iwan [Rheon, off Misfits] is quite sexy. He’s handsome and girls like him a lot. I don’t know what it is. He’s just cool. I’m not very cool. I’m a bit of a tit. As a result, girls just tend to go “I’d rather not involve myself with him”. Girls don’t want to sleep with people who are terracotta either. Do you know what I mean?

What, like the dudes off The Only Way Is Essex?
It really bothers me a lot. Like, it does my head in when people have orange palms. How do you tan your palms?

Palms probably shouldn’t change colour really.
Yeah man, like the fuckin’ flats of your feet and your palms and sometimes you get girls who do their eyebrows and their lips. It’s just eyes, and two nostrils. That’s all you can fucking see.

Like a clay statue.
Yes. Very much that. I don’t know if you ever watched Meet The Ancestors, where they re-construct a fucking human skull. It’s very much like that, wondering around the Lancashire area sometimes.

We once met Alex Reid off the telly and he looked like a dusty statue.
I saw Jeremy Kyle and he looked like a dusty statue. I fucking hate the geez, so I went up to him and just said “Jeremy Kyyyyyle” – I was going to back it up with something better, but it just started and ended there. I lost confidence. I got anxious and didn’t commit. He just sort of looked up, and we locked eyes. He’s only small. I’ll be honest, it didn’t frighten me. I think I could take him.

Physically, there’s not a lot to him.
No, but he’s got a very angry pair of eyes, doesn’t he? I don’t think he knows when he’s deeply wrong so he’s got a burning ambition to defend himself. Yeah, you know the way he’s just in public and humiliates human beings. So funny. Some of these people are bloody are gullible enough to think they will be fixed by this man who actually just publicly humiliates them and makes them look like total twats, and bollocks them loads. God, what a guy. What a guy!

And then he goes home and sleeps soundly all night. What a cunt.
On his back with his eyes shut. Yeah. No problem. I toss and turn and I don’t do shit like that, man. Fucking hell. So yeah, I met him once and he’s like a dusty statue. That’s a really good analogy of it man. That’s very funny that. ‘He’s like a fucking dusty statue.” I’m having it. Don’t put it on the website. You’ll ruin it for me in life. You can’t mention that I’ve stole that because people will then be like, “Well, you’ve stolen that from the interviewer”.

No no, it’s your phrase now.
Really? I’ll give you one. I’ll give you a nice one. Are you ready?

Go for it.
Eggs have no business dancing with storms.

That’s ace. What does it mean?
I saw it in a cool film. Was it a cool film? Yeah, it was a cool film. It’s called Shoot ‘Em Up.

That’s awesome, the film with Paul Giamatti?
That’s the dude. That’s him.

We were in a cathedral once in Spain and he was there. We went up and said, “Are you Paul Giamatti?” and he said “Yes”, so we said “Cool” and walked away, which is a terrible anecdote.
That’s really crap, innit? Really shit. I have done some terrible shitty things like tried to say I’m cool. I’m gifted at making a twat of myself. I feel like Alan Partridge a lot of the time. I was fucking watching it last night, that bit where Lynn comes in that snazzy cardigan saying she’s secured a walnut gearstick knob…

Ah brilliant, when he’s on the date with Jill?
She’s terrifying, isn’t she? That woman. I love Alan Partridge.

“Jill will be sleeping with me tonight.”
“She’ll be sleeping with me tonight” “I don’t remember agreeing to that. Well, go on then.” Amazing. And the mousse. Mousse! Bloody mousse! It’s all over that, what’s that thing called? That fucking curtain that goes all around your bed?

The valance?
Shit, man. Look at you. What’s going on with you? You shouldn’t know shit like that. And you’ve watched Alan Partridge far too many times. It’s time to stop. I’ve done it with Trailer Park Boys. It’s like one of these albums that you’re not too sure about at the beginning but eventually is brilliant. You have to watch a couple of episodes of Trailer Park Boys, because it’s very character-based. You have to know these characters before you can understand why it’s so fucking funny. My god, man. If you’re into marijuana and you get into Trailer Park Boys, it’s like peas and carrots. It’s amazing. They have no money, no budget at all and they’ve just done the most amazing stuff. It’s so funny. It’s a mock-documentary innit. There’s like a Spinal Tap type feel to it, where they’re following these two criminals who are just fucking shite. They’re both really crap in their own ways, but they’re bound together by the love of one another, which lies deeply in all of us, I think. I was watching Hot Rod the other night.

That’s the funniest film in the whole world.
That bloody wh-whisky bit. “Wh-why are you saying it like that? Wh-why are you saying it wh-weird?” “Why am I saying wh-what wh-weird?” And them immediately they he’s shouting “whisky”. It’s fucking brilliant. If the viewers, the listeners, or whatever – the readers, I’m a dickhead, what an idiot – if the readers are reading, and reading well, and Hot Rod’s something they haven’t experienced, it’s truly time to change that. And it’s a shame that you haven’t seen it already. I’m sorry that I didn’t bring it to your attention sooner.

We should get a question in about This is England ’88 really. Hey Joe, why should people buy the DVD?
Not to mention the ups and downs, the peaks and the troughs, the highs and lows, but I’m in it. There’s loads of me in it. Absolutely loads of me.

Having played Woody for several years, do the lines get blurred where Joe ends and Woody starts?
Mate, totally man. What a bloody lovely question to ask that is. That might be the first time I’ve been asked that. The lines certainly do. With all my characters I play, to be honest, even with Eli [from Emmerdale] and with Rudy [from Misfits] and all these different ones. It can fuck with you man. You’re very vulnerable. You’re letting yourself on the line and you know, you’re a parody of yourself in every part you play I think. Whether you’re putting on a silly accent or a limp or a funny beard or whatever it is, there’s a part of you in every fucking thing you do so. I’d definitely say that, and that’s a really ace question there. Nice one.

Does it go the other way? Who owns Woody, you or Shane Meadows?
You all know together when it’s not right. You all fucking know. You really feel when its going well and when it’s not. There’s a fucking reason, man. It’s usually down to reality. What would the reality of the situation truly be? And you’ve got to find that, whether you’ve experienced it in life or not. It’s a tough bloody journey.

Sounds like it could be a bit of a headfuck.
Yeah, massively. It can be a headfuck that you go into with open arms usually. If Shane rang me up tonight and said “I’ve got a part for you but it requires chopping a bollock off”, he could have it. He could dry it out and smoke it if he wanted. You’d be such a lucky bugger to work with someone like Shane. The trust levels are fucking remarkable. It’s unbelievable. I leave my psyche in his hands, if you will, and so does Vicky [McClure, who plays Lol] and the others. It can fuck you up but it’s necessary to deliver what we do.

Is the 1990 series next year definitely going to be the end?
Shane reckons his life went quite boring after that. I don’t think you could ever accuse Shane of ever being boring. Ever, man. He’s just massively eccentric. But people who tend to be massively eccentric, like the ones that go “I’m eccentric, I’m a mad one me” generally aren’t, are they? Shane’s a real one.

We’ve never been fans of people going “Ah, you’d like me, I’m mental.”
Oh God, I want them to get AIDS and die. So yeah, I just think he’s a fucking genius man. Emotionally, he’s just so clever at remembering feelings. We’re kind of similar in a lot of ways me and Shane. Dickheads. We all are. A big bunch of dicks together, all getting on.

So it’s a big bunch of dickheads creating something beautiful.
Yeah, a big bunch of dicks making a beautiful thing happen. If you can be arsed, you should come to my house. The lifestyle I live is not like you’d imagine. A lot of people imagine me driving around in a Porsche with wheels on and to have a fucking unicorn and singing goats that produce actual gold, but I don’t. I live in my mum’s house. I have four dogs that I take on walks. I’m shit with money. Me bed is a mattress. I tend to just give my money away a lot, or I tend to spend it having a nice time, or tax. Paying tax is a big one for actors. That’s horrible. The taxman is a horrible man. I’d love to know where my money goes. I needed the NHS not long ago. I got my tooth pulled out and I had to wait all day. It was horrible. I’m thinking “we pay an outrageous amount of money. No one should ever have to wait, ever.” We pay more than anyone else. We pay so much tax to the point that the man who’s in charge of all the taxes fucking built a moat around his house. A moat! Not a fucking picket fence, not a little windy crazy path. A moat! A moat from like the 1300s where you’d like have to lower a drawbridge. I mean, come the fuck on! Like, that’s not okay. Sorry, you’ve got me ranting now. Sorry, I’m getting political. I’m not very good at it. I have a very vague understanding that they are dickheads, but I can’t really put my finger on why.

This Is England ’88 comes out on DVD on March 12th. It’s really good.

Look, here’s an exclusive clip!

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