John Boyega, Simon Howard, Franz Drameh, Leeon Jones & Alex Esmail Interview For ‘Attack The Block’
‘Attack the Block’ is Joe Cornish’s hugely entertaining, energetic, funny, and frightening action adventure flick that pits a teen gang against an invasion of savage alien monsters. It turns a London housing estate into a sci-fi playground. A tower block into a fortress under siege. And teenage street kids into heroes. It’s inner city versus outer space. Check out what the five newcomers, John Boyega (Moses), Simon Howard (Biggz), Franz Drameh (Dennis), Leeon Jones (Jerome), and Alex Esmail (Pest), who brilliantly play the hooded heroes, had to say about the film below. ‘Attack The Block’ is in cinemas now!
Seeing the film now, how does it differ from what you imagined when you read the script?
Franz Drameh: One of the things I found really interesting about taking it from the page onto the big screen was the sound and the soundtrack, that just makes it that extra bit better, I just thought “wow, I’m in that, siiiccccccck (laughs).”
Simon Howard: It was mad, when you’re getting filmed it’s not like you’re getting to see it from the audiences point of view, so when you’re watching it you get to see all the scary bits that are going to make you jump, all the other bits you weren’t on set to see, you get to see everything.
John Boyega: It was crazy seeing it on the big screen, all the effects being put in, it was very humbling. We’re all very grateful to Joe.
Nick Frost played a sort of surrogate father figure to you guys in the film, what was he like on set?
John Boyega: He brought a playful energy to set, he was like our older brother, it was like a big family on set. He was good for hugs, big teddy bear hugs (laughs).
Franz Drameh: He wasn’t there for too long, he was around for four weeks maybe, we were there for like four months, when he was on set he was just a joy to work with, always cracking random jokes, right before a take as well.
How long did you get to rehearse and how long did you get to sort of bond together? Did any of you know each other before?
Leeon Jones: Me and Simon knew each other before, at the rehearsal stage we didn’t know each other that well, we bonded almost instantly, it happened so quick. We’d go out together, we’d always talk to each other, we became so tight. I think that pays off because in the film you really see that bond.
Franz Drameh: The rehearsal period was from around January 2010, to filming in March…
John Boyega: We had to do training as well.
Franz Drameh: Yeah, we had to do training, there was gun training, bike training, fight training, gym stuff…
John Boyega: I had to get a personal trainer because I was fat (laughs). All that rehearsal and training helped us out for our characters though definitely, we became a little family.
You’ve all got some great lines in the film, do you have a personal favourite?
John Boyega: When Pest says “Moses, go kill all dem tings cuz, kill‘em all.” I love that line (laughs).
Simon Howard: I like when Pest goes “THIS IS SICK!” When I open up the garage and drive out.
Franz Drameh: My one is “This is too much madness for one text,” by Jerome, that gets me every time.
Leeon Jones: Mine is Pest as well when he gives back the ring and goes “rassscclllarrrtt.” (Laughs).
Alex Esmail: One of my favourites is by Luke, in the weed room, when we’ve locked ourselves in there and he’s going on a mad rant talking about the aliens, and he says to my character “no, I’m trying to save your life, and the answer to your question is I’ve got skins.”
If the invasion happened right now, who’d be the hero?
John Boyega: I’M RUNNING!
Alex Esmail: I’m gone!
Simon Howard: You’ve seen the size of these aliens, I’m off.
Franz Drameh: I’m Heathrow Airport and a plane to somewhere in Africa, somewhere nice and hot.
What was it like working with Joe? Especially as he’s writer and director, did he give you much freedom to add any lines?
Franz Drameh: He did actually, which is quite rare for someone who’s both writer and director. From past experience a director who hasn’t wrote the script gives you a bit more freedom to change the lines because they’re not so attached to the actual script. But with the writer that’s like they’re baby, they don’t generally want it to be tweaked too much. But Joe gave us a lot of freedom to kind of change stuff around, maybe add a bit more of our own characteristic traits to the roles, I think that’s a great quality to have as a director because that shows you really care about the movie and that you want it to be as good as possible.
There are some political messages in the film as well as it being an action movie, was that always obvious to you when you read the script and making the film? How has the reaction been to that aspect of it?
John Boyega: Yeah, that was very dominant in the script. We did have discussions during the rehearsal process about that, talking about these situations. We all done our own research on our characters as well. For my character I watched Season 4 of ‘The Wire,’ looking at Michael’s character, just seeing what goes on behind these kids and why they act like that. Most movies that we’ve been given, in terms of urban movies, we’ve always been given the “I’m gonna kick his head in, I‘m gonna mess him up,” we’ve never been given the why? Why do you do what you do? I think in ‘Attack The Block’ that’s a physical representation of that.
Franz Drameh: Yeah, all the characters had their different reason for what they’re doing.
John Boyega: We showed it at SXSW festival and they really got it, here as well, people can go on this journey with these guys, even though they rob a woman in the beginning, they can sit back and say “we’ll give them a chance, explain yourself.” The film does exactly that.
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