Karl Urban has had many successful roles in film and on television. Most recently, “Star Trek” fans loved his portrayal of Dr. Leonard “Bones” McCoy in the J.J. Abrams version of the film. Urban has also been in the second and third installments of Peter Jackson’s “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy playing the role of Éomer. He was in “Xena: Warrior Princess,” “The Chronicles of Riddick,” and the lead in “Judge Dredd.”
Now Karl plays one of the lead roles in the new sci-fi series “Almost Human.” Urban takes up the role of Detective John Kennex, who is a cop that survived one of the most catastrophic attacks ever made against the police department. Waking up from a coma he now has issues with his memory. Still one memory is intact, which is that his partner was killed. Kennex also lost one of his legs and he is now outfitted with a highly sophisticated synthetic appendage. Kennex also has to deal with his new android partner Dorian, played by Michael Ealy.
Karl is very excited for viewers to check out his new series, “Almost Human” on Fox starting November 17th.. Urban and I discussed the show, “Star Trek,”and working with J.J. Abrams.
Art Eddy: You play the role of John Kennex, who is a cop that wakes up from a 17-month coma. John lost his partner and one of his legs and now has a synthetic appendage. He is dealing with a lot of mental and physical baggage. What was your approach on how you wanted to play the role of Kennex?
Karl Urban: I had extensive conversations with J.J. Abrams and all the creators involved to get a real understanding of who John Kennex was and the direction we were going in for the show. Beyond that I started me research. I for ridealongs with a bunch of cops for over a week, a couple of weeks actually.
It was really interesting to see what they have to deal with on a day to day basis. That really forms the baseline reality of a lot of elements for my character. I just have such a huge admiration and respect for all of those guys. The first responders, like the brave firefighters in 9/11, those guys who are walking into the face of danger when everyone else is walking in the opposite direction. Kennex is cut from that similar type of cloth.
I also did some research on post dramatic stress and the effects that is has on people. That was heavily featured in the pilot. By and large Kennex deals with it in the pilot and then we move on beyond that. That’s where the show gets really fun and exciting. I cannot wait for an audience to see where we take the show. It is crazy good.
AE: As we have seen in the “Almost Human” trailers your character hates robots. Why is that?
KU: Kennex feels a certain distain for robots because he feels that they are partially responsible for the loss of human life and for the loss of his colleagues. There is quite a bit of resentment. There are opinions out there in the police force that think that Kennex is responsible.
Kennex was on the ground and was let down by one of these androids. His partner died. Kennex got his leg blown off as a result and put in a coma for 17 months. So these issues that he has are kind of well founded. The fun thing is that he comes back to work and the first day he is partnered with an android. That leads to a lot of fun conflict and comedy. By the end of that first day, this android Dorian proves his own worth. (Dorian) engineers a paradigm shift within Kennex. It enables him to move beyond the point that he was in.
KU: I think John acknowledges the true value of Dorian. Dorian proves himself by saving John’s life and by contributing to solving the issues and the problems they faced in the pilot. John is not stupid. He can see that this DRN model is not like those NX models that John hates. He actually has value and worth.
The fun thing is that when you put these guys together it is exploring their relationship. It is the heart of the show. At times Dorian is the smartest computer on the planet. At other times he is like a six year old child. He is discovering things for the very first time. It is so funny. Dorian has got no concept of boundaries or personal space. I can’t tell you how crazy excited I am for audiences to see what happens to these guys.
AE: I love when I get the pleasure to speak with an actor before the series starts on TV. The reason is that I have the opportunity to ask that actor who the audience should be on the lookout for when the series debuts. For you do you have one character that you think the audience should focus in on due to their performance on set?
KU: I would be remiss if I was to single out anyone in particular. When you watch “Almost Human” it is a wonderful ensemble of eclectic characters, who are genuinely funny and crazy. You will just enjoy spending time with them. I can’t wait for the audience to see where the show goes. Here is a little teaser. In episode two we are in sex bots territory. (Both laugh) This show is going to be very fun. That is all I can say or else I am going to get rapped on the knuckles by the higher ups.
AE: You mentioned that you went around with cops for some perspective for your role. Did you hang out with Michael (Ealy) at all before shooting to build that relationship?
KU: We really hit the ground running. We were thrown into the deep end. It was pretty clear on the first day working with each other that we would really get along. We both like to laugh and we laugh a lot in each other’s company. To me it is not only a great testament to what a great guy Michael is, but also to J.J. Abrams. He is so good of putting groups of people together that work well together.
He has done it on “Alias,” “Lost,” and he has done it with “Star Trek.” He has done it here again on “Almost Human.” This is a fun group of eclectic people with a really fun group of eclectic characters. You enjoy spending time together and that is gold.
AE: How great is it to be back working with Abrams?
KU: I just love that man. I have so much admiration and respect for him. He is hands down one of the most gifted directors, writers, and producers that I ever had the privilege to work with. I cannot wait to see what he does with “Star Wars.” I would be lying to say if I was not envious of that cast who are going into “Star Wars” and having the opportunity to work with a man like J.J. Abrams.
KU: Yes. I have to say that I was really touched. I certainly really appreciate that fan feedback and that fan response. Doing a film is not like doing theatre where you instantly get feedback on what you did and how it is appreciated.
With both of these films with the people that I meet in the street, or at a convention, or wherever I really feel the appreciation for these movies and for these characters. I can’t want to get back in there and continue the journey. It is always a lot of fun.
AE: I have to say for me that the moment you got on the screen in the first film you nailed it. You had me hooked.
KU: Well I have to say I had really a lot of help there. Not only in J.J., but the tremendous writing from Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman. When they write dialogue like ‘Space is full of disease and danger wrapped in darkness and violence.’ I mean it just clicked. These guys are good and it certainly makes my job a lot easier.
At Tennessee -12 Jacksonville
Spread’s a bit high, but so is the talent differential.
Pick: Titans -12
Philadelphia -1 At Green Bay
Foles over Seneca, even if Lacy goes off.
Pick: Eagles -1
At Pittsburgh -3 Buffalo
There’s talk that Ben may want out in Pittsburgh. Things couldn’t get much worse, so it’s now or never for the Steelers.
Pick: Steelers -3
At NY Giants -7 Oakland
The suddenly competitive Giants take advantage of home field and continue to right the ship.
Pick: Giants -7
At Indianapolis -7.5 St. Louis
Why would you pick against Luck at home?
Pick: Colts -7.5
Seattle -4 At Atlanta
Two teams going in the opposite directions. Seahawks keep rolling and avenge last year’s playoff loss.
Pick: Seahawks -4
At Baltimore PK Cincinnati
I like the Bengals better, but I think the Ravens will rally at home and finally get a much needed W.
At Chicago PK Detroit
Huge NFC North implications here. Lions take the lead in the division after this one.
At San Francisco -5.5 Carolina
Two of the hottest teams in football square off in a battle of win streaks, but the Niners are well-rested and playing at home with an extra week of prep.
Pick: Niners -5.5
At Arizona -3.5 Houston
Will that Case magic work on the road? I’m thinking it may only work in Houston.
Pick: Cardinals -3.5
Denver -7 At San Diego
Broncos win a shootout.
Pick: Broncos -7
At New Orleans -6.5 Dallas
Brees and Rob Ryan get the best of the Boys.
Pick: Saints -6.5
Miami -2.5 At Tampa Bay
Distraction or rally cry? If Miami was a stronger team, they’d use all the unwanted media attention for fuel. I think the Bucs have a chance to win their first game here.
Pick: Bucs +2.5
To celebrate The Wolverine November 19th Digital HD release, Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment today launched The Wolverine Unleashed Experience – an immersive website experience that allows fans to take a deeper look into Wolverine than ever before. Through this interactive website, fans can delve into the character of the Wolverine by navigating through a layered, three dimensional site that reflects Logan’s inner struggle with his immortality. Log on and uncover hot spots to unlock new content, including special feature sneak peeks and bridges to past films. The content is also compatible across desktop and tablets, and users can embed and share across all social platforms.
The Wolverine Unleashed experience comes hot off the heels of The Wolverine multi-touch experience – released for free November 5 exclusively at the iTunes iBook Store. The Wolverine multi-touch experience adds to the story with original narrative, exclusive behind-the-scenes video, beautiful imagery, and interactive models.
Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment is the industry leading worldwide marketing, sales and distribution company for all Fox produced, acquired and third party partner film and television programing. Each year TCFHE expands its award-winning global product portfolio with the introduction of new entertainment content through established and emerging formats including DVD, Blu-ray™ and Digital HD. Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment is a subsidiary of 21st Century Fox.
LeRoy Butler played strong safety for his entire career with the Green Bay Packers. Known for creating the famous “Lambeau Leap,” Butler still roots for his old team. If you follow him on Twitter you see that he is always giving his perspective during games.
Butler won a Super Bowl title with the Packers when Green Bay beat the New England Patriots in 1997. Butler was selected to the Pro Bowl four times and was part of the NFL 1990s All-Decade Team. He is also a member of the Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame.
Recently LeRoy released his latest book called “Packers Pride: Green Bay Greats Share Their Favorite Memories.” Even if you are not a Packers fan this is a great read. As a 49ers fan I soaked up every story that Butler shares in his book. The rivalry section was very intriguing.
Butler was kind enough to chat with me about the Packers, his book, and his foundation.
Art Eddy: Your book “Packers Pride: Green Bay Greats Share Their Favorite Memories” recently came out. I am digging this book. I love the stories and insight. How did you come up with the idea for this book?
LeRoy Butler: Well I wanted to do a football geeky type book. I think a lot of fans see us playing on the field, but they don’t get a chance to see what we are thinking or what were are favorite moments about playing. I got a chance to do that.
I did a book earlier about my life. It wasn’t necessarily about my life in Green Bay, but it was about my life growing up. With the “Packers Pride” it really is a tribute to all the Green Bay Packers fans out there everywhere that we appreciate them supporting us.
Some of these stories are hilarious. For me we have stories about Brett Favre growing up and Reggie White. Both of those guys were free agents. One came from Atlanta and the other came from Philadelphia. How did they adapt to the team. So I have some great stories about great guys from around the league. I just had a lot of fun putting it together.
AE: What was the reaction of your former teammates when they heard you were working on this book?
LB: A lot of guys said that they have so many stories to tell and I never either had the time to do it or thought about doing it. Me and Rob Reischel talked to about 60 guys. All of them wanted to tell at least one story or one paragraph. They wanted to be a part of it.
They had things that they wanted to share. We call it barbershop talk. Everyone has their opinion. We would say, ‘Who is your favorite guy?’ Or we might say, “Who is the best at this?’ I talk about that in the book. It gave me the chance to talk about football from perspective. It was a lot of fun.
AE: There are so many great stories in this book. I love how you break down Green Bay’s rivals and your stories of the Packers greats. Tell me a bit about those rivals.
LB: There were a few things that I talked about that was awesome like the playoff game against San Francisco. We were used to playing a 4-3 defense that is with four defensive linemen. We wanted to do some new stuff. I remember Fritz Shurmur, our defensive coordinator said that we are going to try a little 3-4. It will surprise them a little bit, because they are expecting a 4-3. We dominated them because they didn’t see that particular defensive front.
I never was asked that in my whole entire playing career. Now I have a chance to talk about that in detail. So I was so excited about that.
AE: You were credited with starting “The Lambeau Leap.” I was watching video of that play. One of the first Packers to come off the sideline to congratulate you was Brett Favre. In your book you talk about how Brett made everyone feel at home. Fans and the media didn’t see that side. How important was it for you to put that in your book?
LB: It was important because it was 100 percent the truth. Brett Favre is the single best teammate in the history of sports. What he did was what you would never see guys do. When he came from Atlanta he adapted with the African American community with hip-hop. He went with the white guys with country music. He went with some of the younger guys who were playing the video games. He went with the older guys who like to do hunting.
Everybody loved the guy. He didn’t wait for people to come congratulate him. He was assertive at his networking skills. That is why if you look at Brett Favre’s career you couldn’t name a lot of these receivers, because it didn’t care to him. He would put you in the position to make plays. Not only that guys would dive to make plays for him. Case in point when his dad died and they played the Raiders these guys were jumping all over each other making catches. He is the ultimate teammate. I was very adamant about putting that in the book.
I never did that when I came into the league as a rookie. When I came in the guys just hung around me because I was a second round pick. I wasn’t networking. I wasn’t going over trying to meet guys. I figured that I would just meet them throughout the day. It was just an awesome way to see how he networked. I don’t think that I will ever see that again.
AE: In your opinion which Packer performed “The Lambeau Leap” the best?
LB: Oh, that is a fantastic question. I would say that if I have to vote I will give three guys that did it well. Donald Driver is in that three. Ahman Green was great at it. The guy who was the best at it was Robert Brooks. He would run and jump and then turn around and sit down. That was phenomenal.
LB: One of the things was the free agents and the things we did to put together that type of team that year. We brought in Andre Rison, no one wanted that guy. We brought in Desmond Howard, who was a receiver in Jacksonville that people said he couldn’t play. He was the Super Bowl MVP.
AE: Yea, he was doing the robot into the end zone in that game. It was hilarious.
LB: Right! People thought that Desmond was always there. No, we had to go out and get this guy. Ron Cox was our middle linebacker. He played with the Bears before coming to the team. Antonio Freeman, who people said he wasn’t fast enough. He had an 86 yard touchdown in that game.
If you look at this game it was unbelievable. The development and the maturity of that team that went into that Super Bowl was great. New England had a pretty good team. They had a great tight end. They had a great quarterback in Drew Bledsoe. They had a Hall of Fame running back and a pretty good defense.
The way this team came together was like no other. Once people look back at that roster you shake your head on how we won it. These guys came together to win a championship. I am very thankful for that.
AE: How far do you think the Packers will go this year?
LB: I think that if you have a quarterback with a proven passer rating that is always over 100 and have a defense that is very opportunistic you will have good chance to make it far. There are a few injuries like Clay Matthews and some of the young wide receivers. You have young running back in Eddie Lacy and they have a fresh guy in James Starks to come off the bench. It is a good one two punch.
Not to mention that they have rookie left tackle. It is sort of a head scratcher on how Ted Thompson is putting this team together. They didn’t build it with a lot of free agents. I will be honest with you. Just look at the schools that some of these guys have come from. It is not USC. It is not Florida. It is not Ohio State. They are not coming from these big schools. For Ted Thompson, if you have talent he will find you. So anyone in that green and gold uniform you feel that you have a chance to succeed.
AE: Tell me a bit about your foundation.
LB: One of the biggest things that we did was for breast cancer. I have four daughters and I wanted to get out in front of it. Brett Favre and I did a DVD to help support and raise money for breast cancer. We are also doing an anti-bullying campaign. We are trying to get the bullies and those who are bullied to become buddies. We call it the “Don’t be a bully, be a buddy” campaign. We got to schools and talk with them to educate them on bullying.
We’re at the midpoint of an exciting NFL season with tons of interesting storylines. Babyface meathead Richie Incognito has been dominating the NFL news cycle lately, but there are more important things to ponder, like why the hell the Steelers are 2-6.
The Pittsburgh Steelers have more championships than any other NFL team, but the 2013 season has been an absolute disaster. From the patchwork set of o-lineman that take each other out at the knees to the aging defense that allowed more points last week than any other game in Steelers’ history to the inability to convert and stop conversions on third down, it’s been a rough year. As a Steelers fan, I’m open to any and every bit of positive ju-ju that can help stop the bleeding.
So I took a look at the NFL Fan Superstition Index that Bud Light put together. The official beer of the NFL partnered with KRC Research and conducted more than 9,500 interviews among the 32 different NFL team fan bases. About 300 fans per team were asked more than 50 questions in an effort to calculate the superstition level of each NFL fan base.
Baltimore Ravens fans ranked as the most superstitious fans in the NFL. Coming off a Super Bowl victory, that’s totally understandable. Jets fans are most likely to try and curse or jinx an opposing team, which also makes sense seeing how miserable the average Jets fan’s life must be. Lions fans are most likely to engage in superstitious activities alone, likely so that no one will see them cry.
I thought this tidbit was interesting – Raiders supporters are the fans most likely to wear the same article of clothing (51%) or same hat or non-clothing accessory (38%) in order to help their team’s chances of winning. That makes sense when you think of the low football/life IQ of most Raiders fans, and the fact that they rarely wash themselves or their clothes.
Steelers fans rank fourth in the league when it comes to engaging in superstitious activities with their friends. Steelers fans rank seventh when it comes to setting out some type of team memorabilia to impact the outcome of a game. There’s a lot of terrible towels you see. And does it work? Well 36 percent of the Steelers fans surveyed believe that their superstitious practices actually influence the outcome of games. Maybe we all should try harder this year.
So there you have it. If you want to learn more about your team’s fan base tries to influence games with supernatural tactics, check out the full NFL Fan Superstition Index by Bud Light. Here are some more highlights from the survey:
And quite frankly, he prefers it that way. After all, Duke Cannon doesn’t dine with Vegans and he could give a damn about your new Ipad. Duke Cannon comes from a different era. It was an era when men had a greater purpose than building spreadsheets and spending their Saturdays at Banana Republic.
In Duke’s time, men pursued meaningful endeavors. They worked with their hands. They took pride in the things they built, not the things they bought. And the mindset was simple: men wanted to win, not find the “win-win”.
If you think you are man enough for this soap why not go all in with the Limited Edition U.S. Military Field Box Gift Pack? This soap product is designed to meet the high standards of hard working men who want to get clean and smell good without using feminine shower gels and accessories. This product is modeled after the rough cut, “brick” style of soap used by GIs during the Korean War and is manufactured in the same plant that was the primary supplier of military soap for over 20 years.
While clown soaps offer a free loofa, the Duke Cannon gift pack offers a variety pack of 5 big ass bricks of soap (3 black, 2 white), and an authentic, military field box used to carry .30 cal ammunition. These cans are reusable and watertight, and they make for great hunting/camping storage cans, or the greatest lunch pail ever.
And as a meaningless bonus, they are offering a free headlamp, a case of which was given to Duke Cannon when he rescued a Chinese shipping vessel from Somali pirates back in ‘86. The headlamps are made with the low quality you’d expect from Chinese manufacturers and should last at least a couple weeks.
Note: Cans are in used condition, and therefore have dents and scratches.
2014 RX 350 Review
It’s been 16 years since Lexus launched the RX series and the iconic luxury crossover still claims some tricks up it’s sleeves. My welcome assignment? Drive the RX 350 through the Sierra Nevada Mountains and into the glorious back country of Northern California and Nevada. I was joined by my lovely fiance for the second part of our mission, to find a venue suitable to be wed next September. The RX and all of it’s grown up sensibilities provided us an appropriate chariot for this symbolic drive towards family life. Discussing a modest wedding budget while driving a $53,000 car was a risk I was willing to take.
Upon delivery of the test car the first thing I notice is the addition of the spindle grill. Previous incarnations of the 3rd generation RX had a more muted look with their trapezoidal grill about half the size of the 2014’s. It gives the new model a bolder look in spite of many of the same lines and a very similar shape. Overall the car manages to appear refined and luxurious without being garish or stately. It’s a luxury SUV that hides it’s heft with an egg shaped profile and long lines from nose to peak.
Simply put, impressive. In my week of testing this vehicle I would estimate that I was behind the wheel for over 30 hours. Never once did I get tightness or cramps in my legs, my back remained well supported, my head fit the headrest suitably. Each time out of the car the seat would automatically move backwards to give me more room to exit. Once back in the car it finds your preset custom position again without prompting. We put a couple of adults in the back seat for a field trip to the casino and they spent half the ride exclaiming about how much room they had and how soft the seats were. A center console was discovered, side door cup holders used. The largest of our passengers reclined his seat and made me turn to look at how comfortable he was. Our loaner didn’t include the optional entertainment options for the back seat or I may have found myself alone up front on the long drive home.
The car is packed with features inside and out. We had a near fully loaded F Sport edition but a quick glance at the base model’s pricing tells me you’ll be well equipped even at their lowest price point. Premium audio systems, dual climate control, heated and cooling seats to name a few favorites. The 7” LCD screen remains your base for all information and entertainment needs. Most of your interactions with the system go through the standard Remote Touch Controller, a clunky but valiant effort to clean up some of the interface issues that plague every in dash computer system I’ve encountered. Most of the issues with the system come from the software end, the design lacks intuition and overall ease of use.
Thankfully though the feature keeps me from hunting and pecking on a touchscreen and for that I give it a pass. I beg the automaker gods to use google maps and be done with it. The new “Siri Eyes Free Mode” incorporates your iPhone into the infotainment system but that remains only as effective as the Siri software itself. The new Lexus Enform app for Android and iPhone devices is a nice touch but those with limited data plans may one day balk at using their own data stream. The ability to essentially tether to my device and use the in dash system to stream Pandora and search for a lunch spot on Yelp is undoubtably useful but until the user interface can be as easily manipulated as the one on our phones it remains a limited solution.
Safe as can be. This car’s list of safety features runs as long as it’s luxury ones. Intuitive airbags line the vehicle, crumple zones await the sudden and unexpected. Assistive brake technology can sense when a crash is imminent, blind spot monitor keeps watch where you can’t quite see. I might have been the dummy once or twice on our trip but thankfully our days with the RX were void of any real life crash testing. The optional Parking Assist came in handy when navigating tight parking lots in the medium size vehicle and the optional Heads Up Display quickly became my primary method of checking speed, gears and turns through the nav system.
Handling and Performance
Kind of a catch twenty two here. On one hand you have a car who’s strength and focus remains luxury and comfort. It’s hard to expect what is largely accepted as the most comfortable vehicle in it’s class to carve the roads like a sports car. On the other hand you have the promise of the F Sport badge and all the aggressive driving it represents. Ultimately for me the performance angle fell a little flat. The 270hp engine had enough get up and go to pass any of the countless semis I encountered on the highway, especially when using the 8 speed manual paddle shifters. Down shift from cruising gears with the throttle down and the car seamlessly accelerates to speed, covering 60 to 80 in a proper fashion. The soft handling and body roll associated with the comfort mostly showed on the downhills of the mountain roads as our weight distribution rolled through the wheel base. On long and winding uphill stretches the car showed off it’s strengths, gamely accelerating to speed, hugging the lines while finding the apex of the turn. Sorely missing is the “Drive Mode Select” found in the sedan versions of the F Series. That dial and all of the suspension tightening it controls would instantly firm the ride up and likely change all my minor quibbles about the handling. Maybe next year.
Our brief foray into the snow demonstrated a capable AWD system. The 7.3 inches of ground clearance were high enough to drive over the days old remains of an unplowed snow storm. The Active Torque Control system only had to kick in once and like all AWD cars the nose of the car led the way out of the slide. Our rain sensing windshield wipers stayed hidden in the dry mountain air and our Emergency Assistance button remained mercifully untouched.
The 2014 RX 350 manages to retain it’s broad based luxury appeal, hitting all of it’s notes without becoming vanilla or uninspired. It does not possess the raw handling that I’ve come to expect from an F Series but it certainly compensates for it with a comfortable and luxurious ride. It’s a good fit for a man looking towards the days when a little more space might be needed and safety becomes the priority concern.
Oh, the wedding? We found a spot. Look for more from Tahoe in the coming months.
2014 Lexus RX 350 F Series Specs
- 3.5 Liter 270hp Four Cam 24 Valve V6 Engine
- 18/26 mpg
- 8 speed automatic transmission
- 0-60 in 7.7 seconds
- $39,760 – $54,000
The new Adidas Springblade is the first running shoe that’s actually engineered to propel you forward as you run. You can pick these up at adidas.com/Running or hit up #Springblade on Twitter to find out more about this electric shoe that features 16 individually tuned Energy Blades that’ll legit give you an extra boost in your step. Check out the video:
Washington -1.5 At Minnesota
The Vikes are riding a four game losing streak. They’re a one win team in divison with three other 5-3 squads. Despite some inspired play by Christian Ponder in a near-win last week, Minnesota has nothing to play for but pride. The Skins aren’t exactly road warriors (1-3 away from Washington), but they beat a decent Chargers team last week and at 3-5, they’re still in the mix in the NFC East. Both these teams are pretty ineffective on the defensive side of the ball, but the edge goes to the better offense.
Pick: Skins -1.5
Shane Meadows recently finished a documentary called “The Stone Roses: Made of Stone,” which is being released in the US for two weekends only in early November. Meadows follows the press-shy band, The Stone Roses from the UK, who is known for their smash debut album, “The Stone Roses.”
The band headlined this year’s Coachella Music & Arts Festival. Meadows is a longtime fan of the band and a BAFTA winning director. I was able to catch up with Shane to talk about the band and his experience shooting the documentary.
Shane Meadows: It was 1989. Everyone in trendy cities got the Roses way before we did in Uttoxeter. But there were a couple of lads who worked in Kwik Save who had really refined tastes, and one of them played me the first album in his house, this mad horrible block of flats. I’d be 16, nearly 17, about to start at Burton-on-Trent tech.
I had this really wank ginger ’tache and a crap hairdo. But that music gave me a sense of identity. The first time I dated a girl who wasn’t a hairdresser, I put “Waterfall” on and she snogged me. All of a sudden I was going out with this girl in tie-dye, and I was this little tramp from nowhere.
AE: What was it about their music that got you hooked?
SM: Because they were taken out of their prime and people had to wait so long for them to come back. Plus a lot of the other music that came out at the time felt like it was part of a scene, but their album; if that came out now it’d still cause a massive stir. And that’s the sign of any great music, any great album. And then you throw in the bravado and swagger with which they carried it all off, and on their own terms, fighting lawsuits against record companies, they were complete one-offs and anyone like that is going to make a mark on a young kid.
SM: Ian said ‘We’re doing this press conference to announce us getting back together and we wanted to document it’, and I started to twig, and I said: ‘Look, if you are thinking about making a film and you let anyone else do it, I will kill myself. So you’re going to have to let me do it.’”
The risk was that I would damage my dream, working so closely with them, or that I would get complacent about their music. But if anything, I’ve fallen in love with them and their music even more. This film is the closest thing to a love letter that I’ve ever made.
AE: I read that in your documentary you did not include the band’s fights on tour. What made you decide to cut that from the film?
SM: So many films have done it, it’s nice to hold something back for once. I just didn’t think it was tasteful. If they were having a discussion, I’d say to my crew, “We’re going to leave them to it.” If someone tried to film me having an argument, I’d probably lose respect for them. My dad taught me to be that way. Don’t sift for shit, it’s not the gentlemanly thing to do.
“This was a celebration and was always meant to be a celebration rather than something that tries to dig too deeply into the past. It hints and it shines a light on some of those things, but it tries to leave that to one side. Obviously there’s the hiccups at Amsterdam, there’s some moments in there. But ultimately it was a fan’s-eye perspective.
I’m a big believer that to get to the core of something, or the core of the emotion, you don’t have to go down that obvious route, and sometimes less is more, and in that case I think it was. It’s not like the film is a glossy, over-the-top fan perspective, waxing lyrical and licking people’s bums. It’s honest.
SM: After the tour, John Squire asked me round to his house for dinner, to show him a rough cut of the film. I got lost. His house is in the middle of nowhere, and it was icy. We’re driving up this steep hill, the lanes about a foot wide, I’ve got a real panic on. We’re late and I’m trying to text John, but it won’t go through because it’s so remote. Then the wheels start spinning. And just as we manage to get near the top, a fucking horse appears with a woman on it. So we start sliding back down the hill. The horse starts freaking out, slips, falls on its arse and starts sliding, this half-ton animal coming right at us.
We went backwards into a hedge, the horse went the other way, and we survived. I wound the window down to get some air, and at that moment a Canadian goose flew past the window, did a massive shit. It came through the window and hit me in the arm and the face. I went to John’s covered in shit. That was about my lowest point.
AE: While filming the documentary what was the number one thing that you learned about the band?
SM: There are quite a few who really wouldn’t be out of place in This is England! Fans young and old, rushed to Warrington Parr Hall that day with the hope of seeing the band back together for the first time. Bringing their memorabilia or merchandise, having left work, or home and their families, what stuck us was that what mattered were the lasting memories and the raw feelings the band evoked and the passion of their fans. We could have made a whole film just with the event, characters and feeling of the Warrington Parr Hall gig.
AE: How did the band react to your idea of the documentary and when did they start to forget you were there when you were filming?
SM: I realized I was going to window into that world. I was seeing what you see in the film, when I didn’t have any cameras on and you’re sat there, watching the rehearsal and maybe have a chat about the film.
I could see all that banter going on and I thought it’ll take me ages. When I turn the camera on here, they’ll probably dry up and it’ll probably be a month before we get to that place where they’re comfortable. But it didn’t. They never changed.
You realize that they, as a foursome, when they were at their strongest, when Mani says ‘We were one of the toughest gangs in town,’ they were untouchable. You realize that the bravado in some of those interviews that they gave, ‘We’re the best band in the world and we don’t care who thinks otherwise.’ When you actually strip it back to that room, they were just like us.
AE: Do you have any future projects on the horizon?
SM: I have the option to do “This Is England ’90”, the next installment in the series. I love that cast, it’s become something special and the broadcaster wants it. I’m starting to write now with Jack Thorne. But I’m also trying to raise £10m to make a biopic of Tour De France cyclist, Tommy Simpson who died during the race in 1967. He was the BBC Sports Personality of the year, he was the first Briton who had the chance to win the Tour, but he killed himself with amphetamines. It is like “Raging Bull” with a great flawed hero.