Life’s fun for Candy man Carl
ANGI KENNEDY What a year it’s turning out to be for Norfolk actor Carl Prekopp – working in the West End on the controversial Equus production and now his first feature film has hit the big screen. He tells Angi Kennedy why he’s never had so much fun.
There are not many actors who can enjoy the luxury of taking their pick from the latest pile of new scripts to have fallen through their letterbox. For most actors - certainly those in the early years of their career - it is a matter of taking your breaks where and when they come.
And if that means you find yourself trying to film porn scenes in your parents' house on a tight budget, then that's what it takes. Well, that's according to the plot of I Want Candy, the Ealing Studios romp which opened in cinemas around East Anglia yesterday.
But in fact, it's something Norfolk actor Carl Prekopp can appreciate. I Want Candy is his first big step into the film world. It's not high culture, it's not going to win any Oscars, but you take your breaks...
Not that Carl is a novice to acting - he joined the Studio Theatre at the Theatre Royal in Norwich as an 11-year-old and has been passionate about the acting life ever since.
After years in radio drama and on stage in Britain and abroad, 27-year-old Carl is relishing the excitement and change of pace that film work brings.
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I Want Candy is aimed fairly and squarely at grabbing the belly-laughs from its 15 to 19-year-old male target audience, he says.
Former Baywatch star and Playboy nude Carmen Electra is the eponymous Candy Fiveways, the world's number one porn star. Her pneumatic talents are pursued through the film by two young would-be film-makers - played by up-coming talent Tom Riley (A Few Days In September) and Tom Burke (Libertine, Dracula) - who compromise their dreams of producing a feature film to get funding.
The only way they will get financial backing is to rewrite their script to include “scenes of an adult nature” with Candy as the star. With no budget for location shots, they end up filming their porn scenes at home while their parents are out at work!
“The humour is puerile,” laughs Carl, a former Aylsham High and Paston College student. “We are not trying to be anything other than a good fun laugh.
“Lads' mags readers will love it, but also it has a lot of appeal there for women and girls because the two strongest characters in the film are Carmen Electra and Michelle Ryan, who was in EastEnders.
“It is not an offensive film or anti-women in any way. It will work on a lot of different levels and I will be as interested as anyone to see who likes it.”
For Carl - who plays a Polish film student talked into taking part in the film by the lure of seeing naked women - a highpoint of the filming experience was the chance to work with director Stephen Surjik (Wayne's World 2) and actors like Mackenzie Crook (Pirates of the Caribbean I and II, The Office).
“Mackenzie is lovely; a really genuinely nice guy. He's quite unassuming, with a real calmness about him. But he is also very funny - it's like a master-class watching him.”
Not that he's star-struck. During Carl's six years in radio drama for the BBC he worked with the like of Richard E Grant, Joss Ackland, June Whitfield and Richard Griffiths on more than 100 radio readings and plays, including Dostoevsky's The Brothers Karamazov.
He has also toured with the Eastern Angles in productions of David Copperfield and The Bone Harvest, as well as playing in Romeo and Juliet in Ireland and taking the role of Horatio in a production of Hamlet at Budapest. He has also provided voiceovers for the Tate Gallery and Tate Modern.
But this, his first real film job came with a new challenge - the Polish accent. “Luckily the family is Czech-Slovak, so I quickly got on the phone to Grandpa to get his accent in detail. Then I spent a lot of time with the Polish in the bars around Ravenscourt.
“My character, Vlad, is a student at the Leatherhead film school where the film is centred. He is also interested in political exposure and in using the film as a political tool, but when you see him he is getting roped in to making a porno film. It is very funny.”
The five-and-a-half-week shoot was mainly in the Ealing Studios. “Most days I would have to get to the studio by 6am and then often not finish until 6 or 7pm. But they were very exciting days for me. Every day I was having the time of my life.
“There is a lot of pressure to turn up, do a work through, a take, a second take and a film take and get it all wrapped,” he explains.
“I love the theatre because you have weeks to look at aspects of the play again and again, and then at the show you keep adapting it every night. But working to that tight film schedule, without the chance to over-analyse everything, is an exciting way to work.”
And working with Carmen Electra (Scary Movie, the remake of Starsky and Hutch, Cheaper by the Dozen 2) was also an experience to savour. “She is very nice actually - very LA. She looked good, but very Hollywood, while we all looked very much down-and-out London!”
Since filming, he has been working behind the scenes on the much-publicised Equus production in the West End, in which Harry Potter star Daniel Radcliffe famously strips off.
Carl has been impressed with the teenager's switch to the stage. “Equus is a powerful show and it was one hell of a part for anyone to learn, let alone a young actor who has just stepped off a film set. He is having to learn on the job and he will do so very well. He's very mature for a 17-year-old and very grounded,” explains Carl
Carl - whose parents Pat and Lesley Prekopp live at Burgh-next-Aylsham - has been a production assistant for the show and he says it has taught him a lot about the celebrity circus which surrounds big names like Daniel.
“You have hoards and hoards of photographers and autograph-hunters waiting for the stars. There is a back door which they can go through, where there is hardly anyone about, but they choose to go through the crowds of photographers. I couldn't quite understand the lure of that and yet that is what the stars do. Yes, it may help their career in some obscure way, but I would prefer to go round the back.
“I don't think I could deal with all that celebrity business,” he adds. “If I can continue as a jobbing actor working on this level and earning a living from acting, I would be a very happy man.”