On May 28th, 2005 The League of Gentlemen's Apocalypse was screened to a packed-out FrightFest audience introduced by two of the film's main stars, Reece Shearsmith and Steve Pemberton.
After the film, Reece and Steve returned, along with rarely-seen 'other writer' Jeremy Dyson to discuss the film with the audience. What follows is a transcript of the best parts of the resulting Q&A session. Thanks to Ghoul Drool for the help in compiling this article.
Q: Steve, you said you werenít going to do the noses question, but how do you do Herr Lipp, because with the eyes and everything, it looks more than just padding on the lip. It looks incredibly painful.
SP: Er. Yeah. It is fairly painful. Well, weíve always preferred to use our own faces instead of stick things on prosthetically, so the Herr Lipp palate began with Sellotape when we were doing the original stage shows, which went across here [indicates mouth] like a ĎThe Jokerí effect. And then for the series, itís like they clip in across the teeth and they just push my lip out. But, you know, itís made to fit me, so itís not uncomfortable.
The eyes are glued down onto my cheeks just with spirit gum, er, you can all do it at home. And then lots of sweat and redness and rawness to make him look sort of like, he needed a bit of Germolene on.
Q: Was there ever an argument between you about who would get the exploding head effect?
RS: Weíd always wanted to have an exploding head. It was all right wasnít it because we both did separate versions of the ending, and in both versions, accidentally Steve died first.
JD: Yeah, I donít know why that was.
SP: Itís because I wrote it.
JD: Yeah, but I also killed you off in our version.
SP: Oh, did you?
RS: Yeah you were killed first. You fell, I think, off a tightrope in a completely different ending.
SP: Oh, I didnít remember that.
RS: Yeah. And it was just a happy accident and it just made sense that he would get his shot off. So he got the exploding head. It was quite scary the day the head arrived
SP: Yeah you have to do a head cast, which sort of, youíve got your head and shoulders in putty. But (to RS) you used to work with Chris Tucker didnít you?
RS: I did!
SP: Well, you can explain this from a technical point of view.
RS: Well, yeah. I used to be Chris Tuckerís assistant really. Chris Tucker is this make-up man. And for a few months I worked for Chris Tucker and slept in the same room as the Elephant Manís head and Gregory Peckís head from The Boys From Brazil, with the neck ripped out (laughter).
SP: Is it any wonder he turned out how he did?
JD: Didnít you do Michael Caineís nose in Bullseye!?
RS: I did! Yeah, so, his head was cast in alginate and on the day it was exploded, they took your eye out didnít they? They were frightened these glass eyes would come out like bullets and shoot everybody.
SP: That would be a great death though, a great screen death, you know, killed by one of your own eyes.
JD: A sort of a Theatre of Blood, murder on a horror film.
SP:Thatís the sequel. Weíve got it. Good night and thank you.
Member of the audience dressed as Papa Lazarou (in character).
Q: Hello Dave (applause)
(Still as Papa Lazarou) Q: Is it strange.. to meet your fans? (laughter)
RS: (As Lazarou) Yes. That wasnít me doing Lazarou, that was me doing you doing Lazarou. Umm.. well.. itís flattering. Especially when youíve made the effort like that (points at Lazarou in audience), because I donít look as good as that. On tour, yeah, I mean people would turn up, and youíd stare out and see a Pauline or a Lazarou, and it could be quite scary. You know, are they the real ones, come to see us? Itís like all beginning to come true with people like that sat there.
No of course itís flattering. Weíve got lots of fans, or so we like to still think, and if theyíre still interested, then thatís great, because weíve not been on telly for two years.
Q: This is probably a very boring question, but have you all got respective favourite characters you like to do?
RS: Yes, itís very boring. (laughter)
SP: No itís not. I like urmmÖ playing Pauline, because it was the first character we came up with and it was actually Reeceís idea, and Reece was going to do it, but then you bottled itÖ
RS: I bottled it.
SP: And I was going to be Papa Lazarou, and we switched. We switched very early on and because of that, and because itís the first character we did, thatís for me, probably still my favourite character.
RS: Yeah and I like Geoff. I really like playing the suppressed rage of his. Although heís quite jolly in the film, heís not quite the same as the TV. But thereís a lot of me in Geoff, I am Geoff really and it comes very easy for me to play him. But I love doing Ollie as well, Ollie from the Legs Akimbo Theatre Company. Terror and hatred in the same breath.
JD: Did you see, it was in one of the papers yesterday, and they said the version of you that you played in the film, was obviously derived from Ollie Plimsolls.
RS: Oh really! Somehow thatís flattering. Thatís how Iím taking it anyway.
From left: Jeremy Dyson, Steve Pemberton and Reece Shearsmith
Q: You had Simon Pegg and Peter Kay do cameoís. Was there anyone else that you would have loved to have been able to do a cameo, but wasnít able to make it?
SP: We did want Alan Bennett didnít we as the King, and he said he would be too terrified. But what a great coupling Alan Bennett and Victoria Wood would have made.
JD: But having said that, Bernard HillÖ
SP: Bernard Hill was absolutely brilliant, yeah. But apart from that, we were very lucky in that the people we asked generally said that they would do it. Christopher Lee was always talked aboutÖ
RS: (Adopts Christopher Lee voice) Iíve never done a horror film. Ever.
Q: Have you ever been on the dole, like me? And whatís your favourite Harryhausen film? Two part question.
RS: It is.
JD: Well, weíve all been on the dole at different times havenít we?
SP: Yeah of course we have.
RS: Yeah, absolutely. Iíve been on the dole longer than anyone in this room.
SP: Still is.
RS: Shh. Iíll lose my Ďno claimsí. Oh, thatís cars isnít it. (laughter)
SP: Heís given himself away. Itís probably not even called a Restart Course any more. But, yeah, I mean you have to. If youíre going to do what we did which is, you know, do these kind of shows, these live shows where five people will turn up and at a small fringe theatre, and then you go to Edinburgh where it costs, you know two and a half to three thousand pounds just to put a show on. And you have to be, you know, flexible and take your little bits of, what was it £50 a week we used to get, £90 a fortnight.
RS: What, on the dole?
SP: Yeah. Thatís what I remember anyway.
JD: I remember Mark Gatiss saying, quite recently actually, that heís never been happier than when he was signing onÖ
RS: Yeah, thatís cos heís a complete scrounger. (laughter)
JD: He lived in a squat in Leeds, and he used to do the crossword every day, and he says heís never been happier.
RS: Heís happy with his lot isnít he?
SP: (to JD) You were probably the only one who had a regular job.
JD: Hey, I was on the dole, I was on the dole beforeÖ
SP: We believe you. (laughter) Leeds public Grammar School! No, cos, you were working at Waterstoneís werenít you?
JD: When we were doing the League, yeah.
SP: But you had that flexibility.
JD: Yeah. Built-in. Steve, you were working at Variety. Doing a very glamorous job.
SP: I was, yes. Yeah, I was working on the International Film guide, I donít know if anyone knows it? NoÖ
RS: And youíd throw me tidbits, and really help me out with £50 or whatever it was I got for it. But, HarryhausenÖ Golden Voyage..?
JD: Golden Voyage for me.
RS: Golden VoyageÖ
SP: Jason and the Argonauts?
RS: And yeah, we obviously we wanted a ĎHarryhausení monster, Jeremy in particularÖ
JD: I can remember saying that it had to be stop-motion, and never really believed for a second it would be. But yeah, it was.
RS: It cost more than half the budget of the film, but worth it.
SP: It got more than we did.
RS: It did. Yeah, he was a bastard that monster. Knock on the door, ďCome on, youíve got to come to work.Ē (Adopts monster voice) ďOh, Ok..Ē
I was just wondering if you were doing any follow-up on The Cicerones? (Jeremy Dysonís short film)
JD: Well.. There are things in the offing. I canít really talk about it. But, hopefully. Hopefully.
RS: Jeremyís got another film for us, but he wonít tell us what it is.
JD: Weíre waiting for the right time.
RS I hope itís not tails again. (laughter)
Q: Yours is a very English type of grotesque humour, how are you expecting it to travel to other countries?
RS: We donít know. Well, the series travels very well, itís very popular all around the world, and we see that because of the money we get back (laughter). But itís like Blackadder, the quirkiness of the place we set up somehow appeals. Not sure how the filmís going to do. I mean I hope, Iíd like to think, that the triumph of it is managing to achieve.. that you can watch it as a film regardless of having seen the series, and you know, if thatís the case, then I think then weíve succeeded. And I think that will help it abroad. But you know, who knows. Weíve got to see how it does her first. Fuck knows.
Q: It keeps on keeping me awake at night and I just canít sleep, but what is the special stuff? Can you please tell me, or make something up, so I can get some sleep.
JD: If you knew what it was you would never sleep again. Weíre sworn to silence, we cannot say.
SP: Weíre doing a book on it like The Da Vinci Code. (laughter) There are these clues you have to followÖ