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Neil Morrissey: ‘Playing a woman was great. I had big hairy men flirting with me on set’ | Film

Neil Morrissey: ‘Playing a woman was great. I had big hairy men flirting with me on set’ | Film
Neil Morrissey: ‘Playing a woman was great. I had big hairy men flirting with me on set’ | Film

Anthony Hopkins called The Bountya sad mess of a film, such a botched job”, but I think it’s an excellent movie and Hopkins is superb. What’s your view? Catupatree
That was one of my first jobs out of drama school. I think Anthony Hopkins was brilliant. I’d like to know when that quote was from. When we were filming it, I was only 20 years old and having the time of my life in Tahiti with 200 gorgeous extras. I know that Anthony had problems with Roger Donaldson, the director. I don’t know whether it was artistic – I was enjoying myself too much to pay attention – but in my opinion it ended up being a really good film. They must have patched things up because they went on to do The World’s Fastest Indian together. I’d be interested to know what Tony – as he’s known to the glitterati – thinks of it now.

You grew up in care homes. Does the story of I Am Urban resonate with your own experiences? Sirriv69
Very much so. It’s a story we see over and over – the neglect of children by parents who have addiction problems and find it difficult to operate in society. All of that resonates. I was in care, whereas in I Am Urban, the boy is passed around between care homes and foster parents. If you’ve been in care, it’s almost like having been in the army. There is a camaraderie with other people who have experienced it to whatever degree. I’ve always felt it wasn’t that bad for me. You had certain freedoms taken away from you, but I’ve more than made up for it in adult life. I always had my eye on the future, something which is taken away from some of the people in I Am Urban. So it did resonate very heavily.

Hunting Venus was great. Did you enjoy being a woman and how difficult did it prove during filming? Prestonian79

‘At one point I had to tell people to keep their hands off my breasts’ … Morrissey in Hunting Venus. Photograph: ITV/Shutterstock

It was difficult from the start. I had to be in makeup at 4am because it was a full prosthetic. I was pretty slim at the time, 32 waist, but the corset brought it down to something crazy like 22 or 24in, so it was really uncomfortable. When I took it off at the end of the day, I could feel my organs all slipping back into place. Walking in heels also made me empathise. But playing a woman was great. I had men – these big, big hairy grips – flirting with me on set. At one point I had to tell people to keep their hands off my breasts. I said: “I know they’re not real, but they’re still mine.” After filming, I asked if I could keep them but I wasn’t sure what to do with them so I used them as doorstops. Then the silicone started to deteriorate and stain my carpet, so they ended up in the recycling.

How do you feel about not being asked to voice the lead in the forthcoming Bob the Builder movie? If Anthony Ramos mucks it up, and producer Jennifer Lopez calls and says: “Is it to late to repair the damage?” what would you say? Paul_Rangecroft
I’d say: “Well, my price has now gone up, Jenny.” I’ve no idea what this movie is going to be. Stop-frame animation? CGI? Jenny, get on the phone and let’s have a little chat. I was chatting to Kate Harbour, who plays Wendy, the other day. We said that the entire original Bob crew should at least be invited to the British premiere. It was a labour of love. When we started, they were making it in a 12 x 8ft studio, and it would take a month to animate 10 minutes. By the end, we had a warehouse in Manchester with more than 200 animators, making 12 seconds per team a day. God bless Peter Orton, the original producer, who died. Then it was picked up by a big US toy company and became about making toys, as opposed to the lovely cottage industry of how it started off. So I could at least teach JLo some of the history.

Do you find it gratifying that you have had two UK No 1 singles, while Morrissey has had none? VerulamiumParkRanger

Poor bloke. I do actually feel gratified. It was a turn in my career I never expected. I ended up vicariously on Top of the Pops, even though it was a Bob animation. But listen, Morrissey is still making music, so he can keep trying.

‘Morrissey can keep trying’ … posing with the character he narrates, Bob the Builder. Photograph: John Rogers/Getty Images

Boon was just brilliant. So many talented people. What was it like working with Michael Elphick? Could it ever be remade? Tryggo and pleicetene
Michael Elphick was a dream, a great mentor and friend. He taught me so much about film craft. We used to play this game where, by judging the distance from your mark to the lens, you could guess the width of the frame. We’d play for a fiver. He smashed me for years and took hundreds of pounds off me. When I started getting it right, he went: “That’s it,” and stopped. Could they ever bring it back? I suppose I would be the older biker bloke now. I wonder if they’d make me grow my hair? I started getting fed up with having helmet hair every time I took a helmet off because they wouldn’t let me cut it.

Ever fancied doing a follow-up to Men Behaving Badly but as a midlife crisis dramatic piece? Kellysahero1970
That’s my life already! All they need to do is film me as if it’s a documentary.

Would you ever write your autobiography or has Peter Serafinowicz put you off? TopTramp
I think Peter is the only person out there who does an impersonation of me. It’s very funny. I must be his fallback impersonation, making me look a bit dim, which is very sweet. It hasn’t put me off. It’s just a question of getting the timing right. What I don’t want to do is write an autobiography and get sandwiched somewhere between – God bless them both, by the way – Katie Price and Wayne Rooney as a Christmas bargain bucket special. I’d like to write about my life from somewhere near zero until about 18 when I got into drama school. And I can get Peter Serafinowicz to do the audio book, if he’s not too busy doing Katie Price or Wayne Rooney.

‘I’ve always just tried to go out there and do the best I can’… in Men Behaving Badly with Martin Clunes. Photograph: Fremantle Media/Shutterstock

Do you think you’ve received the recognition you deserve? AmongstTheWaves
I’m very happy. I’m not a climb the ladder kind of person. I’ve always just tried to go out there and do the best I can. I may have got caught up a little bit in the 90s with Men Behaving Badly thinking: “Next up – Hollywood!” But I think I’ve had the appreciation. The best compliment is when you are employed. So when people employ me, I’m happy, and that seems to be continuing to happen whether it’s an animation comedy show, serious drama or a nice play in the West End.

I Am Urban is on digital platforms now

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