'People love the gang and almost want to be a part of it' ; THE BIG INTERVIEW Andrew ShimAndrew Shim and fellow This Is England cast members will be in Nottingham for a live evening with event. Tamsin Parnell talked to the 30-year-old actor about acting, Shane Meadows and what we can expect from This Is England '90
You play Milky. For the few who haven't seen This Is England, how would you describe him? Milky is really just one of the gang. He's a likeable character and he's very, very laid-back. He's a key member of the gang.
Have you found anything particularly challenging about playing him over the years or is it quite an easy part to play? With anything with Shane [Meadows], every character has challenging times to go through. It's almost like a running joke with This Is England '90 coming up, we all want to know which character is going to be the next lamb to the slaughter in a real intense, horrible scene. Milky was obviously the first character to go through something like that back when the film was made, where Combo beats him up, so that was a challenging part to play. The scenes in '88 where Woody and I fell out were not the easiest of scenes either.
As you've mentioned, This Is England covers quite a few taboo subjects. How do you as an actor aim to make those experiences seem real? It's difficult to put yourself in certain situations if you haven't experienced those situations yourself. I often try and use my own personal experiences when I'm preparing for a scene or trying to get a scene right, but I've never experienced a racial attack like Milky has with Combo. That's when you have to start acting.
What drew you to audition for the role? My auditioning actually took place in a pub! I was having a drink with Shane and Vicky McClure in Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem and he just said I've got this idea for a film. It is early stages at the moment as I've only just started writing but there's a particular character I want to write in for the pair of you. Would you be up for playing it? Obviously, I wasn't going to say no. He told us he'd keep us posted and, over the course of the next three months, we had a read of any drafts he wanted an opinion on. It was probably the easiest casting I've ever had.
Why do you think This is England is so popular? I think it's because it focuses on an era that a lot of people can relate to, but there's never been a film set in the early to mid-80s based around the issues of the working class. I can't think of any other film that has centred on that era so a lot of people can relate to it. It's also popular because the characters are so likeable. A lot of people come up to me and see me as that character. I know that's probably the case with a lot of actors but they really do with This Is England. They love the gang and almost want to be a part of it.
There's also the fact that none of it is scripted.
It's quite impromptu then - you just go with it? Yeah, we just improvise everything. I think that contributes to why people relate to it so much. Each character is very similar to the actual actor that way because 99 per cent of what we're saying is our own words.
You mentioned This Is England '90 - how is your character going to feature and develop throughout that? The storylines are really good. I can't say what they're going to be but it is going to be a really, really good series. Collectively we've won Baftas for every This Is England that's happened so far, so everyone is going to put 110 per cent effort into this upcoming series.
You're visiting The Approach next week for An Evening With This Is England. What can people attending expect? It's going to be a great night. It's going to be a good chance to meet the whole gang off screen. Everyone is usually working or has other commitments so it's nice to be together. We're doing a Q&A too so it will be a good chance for the audience attending to be able to ask any questions they have always wanted an answer to, no matter how big or small. It's also a good chance to get drunk with us because we will probably be drunk at some point throughout the night!
You attended Nottingham's Central Television Workshop at 14. How did that help shape your career? There were three key things to the start of my career. The drama workshop, my grandma and Shane. Basically, my grandma forced me to go to the workshop due to the age I was at, the area I lived in and the people I was hanging around with. I was getting into more and more trouble so she forced me to audition for the workshop because my sister, Shauna Shim, was a member there already. I didn't get in the first time so she made me go back the next year. I auditioned again and I hated it. I didn't get on with any of the kids, it wasn't what I wanted to do. I was just a rebellious teenager.
I was just about to leave the workshop when an audition came along for a film called A Room For Romeo Brass. I didn't think I'd get it but I planned to go and leave straight after so then I'd at least be able to say I tried. Lo and behold, I got the main part as Romeo Brass in the film. That's when I met Shane Meadows and my career went on from there.
What has been the highlight of your career? Without a doubt, the best thing I've done is This Is England - the film and the whole series. It has been one of my proudest moments. Another highlight is definitely the BAFTAs we've won because that really shows that what you're doing is massively appreciated by the industry and the fans. It's the biggest British award you can win. The other shows we've been up against at the times we've won - not just at the BAFTA awards, all the awards we've won - are amazing.
I mean with This Is England '88 we had the likes of Top Boy up against us and we won. Another highlight has been the people I've managed to meet; people I've often looked up to and admired. I always wanted to meet them but never thought I'd ever have the chance - that's what acting has managed to do for me and I feel very gifted with that. Especially because when I was at school I didn't really think I'd ever be living like this, I never thought I'd meet the people I've met. I don't think many of my teachers thought I would either!
You've recently been tweeting about the Manx Grand Prix. Is that something you're into outside of acting? I love motorbikes, absolutely love them. That was my first actual love in the world. My uncle put me on the back of his when I was twelve and I have been in love with it ever since. I started racing bikes when I was about 25. I had to take a couple of years out because I spent so much money racing. It's a massively expensive sport, but I still follow it heavily. Good friends of mine are members of the Ducati MotoGP team and they do a lot of Grand Prix work. On August 30, the day after The Approach, I'm going to the Silverstone Grand Prix. Next week a friend of mine called Pete is racing at the Isle of Man at the Manx GP too so hopefully I'll be going over for a couple of weeks to give him some support.
What's next for you career wise? The biggest thing I've got coming up is working on This Is England '90 again. That is pretty soon. Also, a director called Reg Traviss, who I've worked with before, has a film he's doing about a casino heist in the thirties or forties. It's a period film, a true story. I know he's written a part in there for me. It's a pretty big budget too, so that's one of the bigger things I've got lined up.
Anything else you would like to say to our readers? Thank you for all the support you have given to This Is England and to all of us actors. It's not just This Is England; it's not just one string to our bow. We've got people like Vicky McClure who is doing fantastically with all her work; Joe Gilgun, Chanel Cresswell, Michael Socha. Everyone is doing really well. We're really appreciative of the support that all the fans have given us because without the fans, we wouldn't be where we are. We wouldn't be doing what we're doing and that's why we try and give as much time to the fans as possible.
A good chance to allow us to do that would be to come down to The Approach and see us next week! An Evening With the Cast of This is England - featuring Vicky McClure, Stephen Graham, Thomas Turgoose, Chanel Cresswell and Andrew Shim - is on Thursday, August 29, at the Approach, Friar Lane. Tickets are Pounds 15 from the pub or via gigantic.com.
THE CONTINUING SAGA...
THIS Is England now spans nearly a decade with one film and two television series - and a third on the way.
Shane Meadows' opus of working-class life in Thatcher's Britain began as 2006 film This Is England.
Starring a then largely unknown cast, including Thomas Turgoose, Andrew Shim, Vicky McClure and Stephen Graham (the only member of the cast who was particularly known before the film), it told the story of a young boy seeking refuge with skinheads in 1983 England.
Spin-off television series This Is England '86 and This Is England '88 were broadcast on Channel 4 in 2010 and 2011. This Is England '90 was originally scheduled to air in 2012 but had to be pushed back because of other Shane Meadows commitments. It will now be made, although a release date has not been announced. Meadows has said that it may be the last series.
ACTOR'S LIFE A BUSY actor since his teenage years, Andrew Shim has become one of the most familiar faces in the works of Shane Meadows.
The 30-year-old actor was born in Miami and moved with his family to Nottingham when he was six.
As a teenager he studied at the Lace Market acting centre now known as the Television Workshop, which has spawned many of Shane Meadows' regular actors. The director gave him his big break, casting him as the lead in 1999 film A Room For Romeo Brass.
Since then he's appeared in Meadows' Once Upon a Time In The Midlands and Dead Man's Shoes, as well as the This Is England film and television series.
'' My auditioning actually took place in a pub! I was having a drink with Shane and Vicky McClure in Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem and he just said I've got this idea for a film....
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