Norwich builders swap cement mixers for cinema stardom in new film The Goob
- Credit: Copyright: Archant 2015
A pair of Norwich builders star in critically-acclaimed film The Goob. They told reporter SAM RUSSELL about their journey from plastering walls in the Golden Triangle to the red carpet at Venice film festival.
'I met him in a pub when my Land Rover was on fire,' smiles builder Martin Ferguson, who is known by all as Fergie.
The scene was the Garden House pub in Denbigh Road, Norwich, and it was the late 1990s when Guy Myhill, director of The Goob, first encountered Fergie.
Mr Myhill arrived at his local to see 'smoke billowing out of this 4x4' in the car park, went inside to alert its owner and saw Fergie - all long beard and tattoos.
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'There was only one person that seemed to chime with that,' said Mr Myhill. 'It's funny how connections work.'
The pair struck up a friendship and Fergie did some building work for Mr Myhill, plastering some walls.
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But Mr Myhill saw Fergie's potential as an actor from the start, and the chance for a first role cropped up around a decade ago - with a short film called The Bilsons, about travelling circus clowns.
'His look always appealed,' said Mr Myhill. 'So when I had the opportunity to put him in the right film it was great to convince him.'
It was not all smooth sailing, and Fergie actually 'did a runner' as he was spooked by the cameras.
'I thought 'this isn't for me, I've got no experience' and I felt nervous,' he explained. 'I went and hid somewhere outside Norwich, in a layby where I would sleep sometimes, then someone was knocking on the door and that was the filming lot.'
They persuaded him to give it a second go.
'After a few days I felt ok in front of the camera,' said Fergie. 'The next film [The Goob] I felt pretty fine.'
While casting for The Goob - shot in Norfolk in 2013 - Mr Myhill wanted actors who could speak with an authentic Norfolk accent.
He returned to Fergie, and he also approached Norwich builder friend Joe Copsey.
Mr Copsey first met Mr Myhill around a decade ago, after doing some building work for a friend of his, and they stayed in contact, playing football at the UEA.
'It's quite an encounter to be in front of the camera,' said Mr Myhill. 'But these two are both blessed with a certain skill to appear natural and to give something off.'
He added that Mr Copsey was thrown in at the deep end while filming The Goob.
'One of the cast, a Maltese woman, I delayed giving her the final go ahead and in my dithering she signed up with some Hollywood production,' he said. 'I wanted to start easy, but with the schedule of this woman and Guardians of the Galaxy, they wouldn't compromise.'
He said they had to film the final, most difficult scenes of the film first before the Guardians of the Galaxy filming began.
'It's a different atmosphere from building,' said Mr Copsey. 'Seeing all those cameras and 'take one, take two', on the first day having to introduce myself to so many people,
'You wouldn't think in a million years you would be seeing yourself on screen.'
The film got its regional premiere at Cinema City in Norwich last week, which was a surreal experience for Mr Copsey.
'I've done work all round the Golden Triangle and there were lots of faces that I recognised at the premiere, who I've done work for,' he grinned. 'They've all gone and seen it and loved it.'
The movie has taken them around the world, including a red carpet premiere at Venice film festival.
But for Fergie, the lasting memory was not of the cameras, the critics or the spectacle of the occasion.
'It was the best chicken I've ever tasted,' he said in a nod to the catering.
He added that he would rather be an actor than a builder as he 'ached' from the hard labour, but was also considering becoming a hospital porter.
Mr Myhill is currently trying to persuade Fergie to shave his beard off to act in a future film, but has a fight on his hands.
'I'm allergic to shaving,' said Fergie. 'I come up in these sores and spots.'
Neither builder has had acting lessons, and Mr Myhill did not tell the crew that it was Mr Copsey's first acting role until late in filming.
'They couldn't believe it,' he said. 'There were certain scenes when you needed these two to act.
'It's not them being themselves - they're acting.
'But they bring a natural feel - you can become quite mannered [as a career actor], just the way you hold yourself.'
The Goob is in cinemas now.