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Reece Ritchie talks about the magic of British cinema

All in Good Time
10 May 2012

It’s been somewhat of a whirlwind couple of years for young British actor Reece Ritchie – starring in Hollywood films such as The Lovely Bones and Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, but the promising actor returns back to his homeland in the upcoming comedy All in Good Time.

Out in cinema’s on May 11, All in Good Time is British-Asian comedy centred around the turbulent relationship of newly married couple Atul (Ritchie) and Vina (Amara Karan), and the teething troubles they face – and star of the film Ritchie was discussing the feature with The Fan Carpet ahead of it’s release.

Ritchie, who had to be distracted from watching the snooker live on the television, discussed working with his old friend Arsher Ali, as well as magic to British cinema. He also let’s us into to a little secret about his latest project…


You’ve had a taste of Hollywood, how was it coming back to a UK production?

I’ve been blessed. I mean, crikey, I’ve been here, there and everywhere through work and since I was 19 I’ve been thrust into it and not knowing which way is up, I’ve been really blessed. I have always as an actor watched British films and always really wanted to be in one because there is this magic about British movies that American films don’t have, especially big-budget films, money speaks before the actor does if you know what I mean, it’s all about selling merchandise. It’s a joy, and really lovely to be on a gritty, British set and just work.


Can you tell us about some of the recent British films you do enjoy?

Well how long have you got? I’m a big Shane Meadows fan so films like that, and going way back to the likes of Trainspotting. There aren’t many I dislike. Recently I loved Tyrannosaur which blew me away. One scene in particular I felt was one of the best I have ever had the pleasure of watching.


Which scene was that?

You’ve seen it?  Well it’s the one where she is explaining the rape she has been through, it’s just harrowing. Amazing acting. So yeah I am an inspired by British movies because you can see on the screen there is a drama school and theatre background, a craft, we’re not just bred into being stars per se, we’re actors first, which I don’t think is true of Hollywood.


The films you mentioned are very gritty, British dramas, whereas this is more light-hearted and a comedy and Nigel Cole is becoming a bit of a connoisseur in that field, what was it like working alongside him?

A lot of directors can fall into the habit of thinking that as director they have the right to shout from the monitor and you just hear their voice and you never see them, but Nigel is the opposite of that he is personable and he will always remember on set to come up close and kneel down and get on your level – not that I’m a midget, but if I’m sitting down at a table – he’ll come down and really talk and listen as well, and he is a man that knows what he’s talking about and people like that don’t have to listen to what you say but he really does so that’s good and it’s important for me, especially for this project actually, because it had been a play and I had to discover this for myself and make it my own. So it’s important to have a director who knew the play whereas I hadn’t and let me discover it of my own accord and he trusted me with that.


Did you feel comfortable with the comedic side to it?

Yeah I mean it’s not Atul’s responsibility to deliver many laughs and there are moments, like when he sprinkling the petals on the bed and he’s trying to be romantic and its quite funny but generally for me I didn’t have to worry too much about the comedy as he is the one with the world against him and not much really helping him.



Your relationship with Amara Karan is obviously key to the film and there is a real chemistry there – were you doing much off-set?

We didn’t really know each other and we didn’t really hang around off-set. Obviously we got along and we enjoyed working together, but we had so much work to do that it takes precedence and you’re just working on that, so the fact we had a chemistry together is a compliment because we got on obviously and enjoyed each others company but we didn’t get any time and we had only three or four days prior to shooting and we were on set, we were launched straight into it. The first scene I ever shot was the argument scene with the dad, a very long and complicated scene so we had to do our homework. We did go to Bolton as well and research the accents which was really useful, so yeah it’s actually quite gratifying to see that we do have such a chemistry on scene actually, it’s quite nice, people have commented on that quite a lot.


I also like the scenes between you and Arsher Ali, can you tell us what it was like working with him?

Well Arsher is an old mate of mine because he went to East 15 and he was in the year above me when I was there, and I remember him winning the Olivier Award, for best newcomer or something like that back in school. It’s funny because an an actor you know what other actors are capable of and I’ve had a couple of friends who have gone into comedy like a mate of mine in the Inbetweeners who is a really serious actor and the public to see him as this comedian, and Arsher, I’ve always judged as a very serious actor  but he carries off the comedy so brilliantly because he is so funny and that is a character that you can tell could have been written up a bit more actually and it’s a shame he isn’t in it more really, he really is quite funny and he is a good mate.


You mentioned that you hadn’t seen the play prior to doing the film, but have you gone back and watched it since?

No but I will now. I don’t know why I haven’t really, I think there is probably a subconscious fear of “Why didn’t I do that?!” and I probably stopped myself, but no I’m really proud of the film and once you’ve put it to bed it’s put to bed, something in you switches off and I’m a forward thinker so I’ll be looking forward to the next thing and not really looking backwards you know.


As for Harish Patel and Meera Syal – were they really helpful? Obviously they were previously in the play and just highly experienced actors anyway.

They were great. I mean there is an unwritten rule that obviously says not to go up to other actors and tell them how to act, and thankfully they didn’t, they were so accommodating with their knowledge of the play. There were some things I didn’t want to know, even if it might have been useful at the time because you risk falling into a groove that someone else has made for you, if you know what I mean. There were things I did ask them, hypothetical questions about what they think about the characters because they’ve had the time to explore the characters and think about the things that you don’t necessarily see on screen like the back story to these people. But yeah generally what a joy to have them on set, I mean Harish is an absolute wizard, he was hilarious. I still think of him and laugh. He lands soon from Mumbai, I can’t wait to see him. Really excited about seeing him again. And Meera is dramatically brilliant in this but also obviously an established comedienne so those two actors were gifts for me because you can just take what they give you on screen and it makes you look better as well.


You’ve also come off the set of another great ensemble cast in White Heat, that must have been quite an experience?

Yeah I’m still catching up on sleep! That was a real challenge in a good way. To play a homosexual guy from the 1960’s form Birmingham is one of those ones that is either going to work or really, really wouldn’t. Also ageing up to forty-something was something we were worried about, that they were going to put big prosthetics on us like a sort of Fagin, walking around the set with silly wigs on, but it was brilliant, I’m really proud of that actually. Such a talented cast and echoing what I just said, you are only as good as what your fellow actors are, it’s so difficult because you be as great as you want but if you haven’t got those actors with you to give you those moments, or throw you things off camera you’re dead in the water.



Your career does seem to be split between television series and films – is there one that you prefer?

I aspire just to do things that challenge me artistically. The only TV I’ve recently done is White Heat but there is some great TV being made and it’s great to be a part of that. I really enjoy film, you get to travel with it as well and I’m still quite young and I haven’t got any dependence or anything like that so it’s really nice to jet off on a plane and some of the great times I have had have been so good in places like Morocco, on Prince of Persia I was just sitting there in a bar with Ben Kingsley, Fred Molina and Toby Kebbell and other great actors just having a beer and I was just thinking, “What am I doing here?” so movies will give you that. But to be honest if the part is right and it pushes me, I’ll do it, even if it’s on stage or whatever, I love acting.


Have you got any other films lined up?

I’ve got one which I’m not allowed to talk about, which is really annoying, but we should be announcing it on the 17th and 18th in Cannes. So that’s really exciting, it’s a biopic and an independent movie. I’m the lead. It’s very early days but it’s been a year or two in the barrel and we went to Jordan and shot a test shoot and got it funded, and now we’ve got some very promising actors on board, some big-names, so watch this space.


You said earlier you admire the work of Shane Meadows, are there any other directors you would want to work with one day?

I met Tim Burton the other day at the Empire awards and he’s a bit of a hero. I think what it is, is anyone who has their own artistic voice and has the guts and gumption to listen to it, and pursue it no matter what because it’s so easy for actors and directors or anyone creative to bend to the pressures of doing what has already worked before, and looking at Shane Meadows and looking at Tim Burton, here are people who won’t budge. They’ve got a vision and they’re gonna realise it and that for me is inspirational. Edward Scissorhands, what a film. So many good movies, I’d love to work with Tim one day.


Nigel has said that he tried to capture the claustrophobia atmosphere from the play and bring it to screen, which does work. Did it feel claustrophobic on set, did you get a sense of it?

There was a closeness and also the set was just so well created, I mean it was amazing the way it was designed. There is no vibrancy in that house and the walls are just green and brown and pastille coloured, and you really do think of a rainy day in Bolton. It reminded me of, not that I had a dull childhood, but you know when you’re a kid and it’s a Sunday and it’s raining and everybody is out and nobody are really doing anything and you’re just sat there, it just felt like that. So for Atul, who they dressed in a very similar way, gave me so much as an actor but the downstairs and the upstairs were separate so you’d walk up the stairs and there would be nothing there. It’s weird because then upstairs would be on the ground floor. So then you would go to walk downstairs to get out of the set and then you realise you weren’t upstairs in the first place, which was very bizarre. It didn’t feel claustrophobic to answer your question but it did feel like it was aptly designed for the characters.


Nigel also said that he thought he could take credit for discovering you, but he hadn’t realised you had been in so many films before…

He is such a liar. Actually I’ll tell you a little tale there. Leo Davis, who cast me in this film also cast me in 10,000 BC, and it was Leo who discovered me in the Soho Theatre when I was 19, I was doing a monologue there and Leo said that Roland Emmerich was doing this picture and I was on the phone back in Suffolk going, “Yeah, sure, okay” and that changed my life. So there is a synergy to her coming back and casting this, so if you want to know who the real champ is keeping me in work it’s Miss Leo Davis the casting director. But Nigel can pretend. I discovered Nigel, did he tell you that? Yeah see, there you go, there’s another story. He jokes about writing this role for Dev Patel, winds me up every time, it cracks me up.”Well if Dev Patel was available you know…”

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