Interview Colm Meaney

In his debut movie lead, Mackenzie Crook, aka Gareth from ‘The Office’, plays a London tube driver who has had two ‘one unders’ in as many weeks. What are these ‘one unders’? Well that’s the London underground phrase to describe anyone who suffers the unfortunate event, accidental or not, of falling on to the train track. Quite literally being ‘one under’ the best part of two hundred tons of a London underground train…

After these two ‘one unders’, Crook learns the ‘3 and Out’ rule; three fatal accidents within a month and you’re out of a job…. but with a huge pay off! What do you do? Why not find some suicide case and maybe ask him to time his death appropriately? Cue Colm Meaney-the local suicide case who’s just right the job. Hilarity, however morbid it is, ensues! chats to the most famous Irish Trekkie Colm Meaney about the movie coming out on DVD this weekend and his views on J.J Abram’s Star Trek remake.

Q:What attracted you to ‘3 and Out’?
A:Well it was the quality of the script that got me. I read it when I was over in Bosnia shooting a mini series. When you read a script for the first time it’s very much like being part of the audience. From my experience ‘3 and Out’ was a very funny, emotional and beautiful story.  So I got in contact and the director Jonathon Gershfield very kindly flew out to Sarajevo and we took it from there.  


Q:It’s a film of firsts, the first time Mackenzie Crook (The Office) has played the lead in a film and it marks Gershfield feature directorial debut. How did you think they got on?
A:Great I think everybody was amazing in the film and not just Mackenzie and Jonathon, the entire cast was great;  of course Imelda Staunton and Jonathon really discovered the young Gemma Arterton who plays my estranged daughter Frankie. She’s going to be big. She’ll next be seen in the 007 instalment ‘Quantum of Solace’. She’ll play Agent Fields.

Q:It was a tight shoot lasting only 6 weeks; how did you all get along?
A:Well the majority of my scenes were with Mackenzie or Imelda so it was very easy for me. Mackenzie and I were very fortunate; we just understood each other on set and instinct took over.  

Q:The film may be a comedy but it deals with some dark issues: suicide, depression, and isolationism. How did you tackle that?
Well we were very aware that it was going to be difficult. We contacted the Samaritans and various agencies to make sure we didn’t step on anyone’s toes.

Q:The guardian reported that the train drivers union planned to picket the premiere suggesting the film trivialised their experience. How would you respond to that?

A:First we were very conscious of the drivers when we were shooting. We even contacted the London Underground authority to make sure they approved the script. After all, we’d need to before we could shoot anything on the line.  So it came as a surprise when these drivers suggested we were trivialising their experience. The thing is, none of these drivers have actually seen the film yet, they are only aware of the premise. If they see the film, they’d realise we aren’t trivialising anything, we’re very aware of the trauma these men have experienced, but we are trying to tell a story of human relationships.

Q:Do you get back to Ireland much?
A:I’d say I make it back maybe five or six times a year. In this busy you go where the work is.  So one month you can be over in Bosnia, the next, as was the case for ‘3 and Out’, London.

Q:You’re often cast as the genuine Irish man; Gershfield, the director of this film for example, has said he cast you because he wanted someone authentic. Do you get offered many Irish scripts these days?

A:Surprisingly few. Even those Irish roles I’m most associated with ‘The Snapper, The Van’, they’re actually English films. Basically your looking for good scripts and if an Irish script came along, of course I’d be up for it. I try to support home cinema and talent where possible, so for instance ‘Kings’ and I worked on an Irish short down in Kerry a few years back.

Q:Your working on the an American remake of ‘Life on Mars’, how is that coming along?
A:Well we’ve shot the pilot but with the writer’s strike things slowed down for a while. Now it’s a matter of waiting and seeing what the American audience and networks make of it and we’ll see… It was terrific; myself and another Dub Jason O’Mara play American cops.

Q:Finally, you’re probably most known for your sci-fi roles: first, Star Trek and after you appeared in several episodes of Stargate Atlantis. Any plans to return to sci-fi?

A:After seven years in space, I think its time for a change! (Laughs). To be honest, I always think actors should avoid tying themselves to a genre or just one role. I played Miles for over seven years in two shows and it was great but its time for a sci-fi break. I’m excited to see where J.J Abrams will go with the new Star Trek movie next year but for me, it’s time for a change!

‘3 and Out’ is out on DVD in Ireland from Sept 12th.