21 Nov Simon Cotton tells us “I want to play roles that I can properly immerse myself in”
Simon Cotton is an actor best known for playing Ronnie Kray in the The Rise of the Krays and The Fall of the Krays. We caught up with him to discuss his latest role in Undercover Hooligan.
Q.What was or reaction when first reading the script for Undercover Hooligan?
To be honest I was quite disturbed when I first read the script of Undercover! I found it to be pretty nasty and it didn’t hold back when it came to its depiction of the London/Essex underworld. But it’s deliberately horrible. It doesn’t seek to glamourise and the fact that I found my character in particular to be slightly repulsive is what attracted me to the film and made me want to be a part of it. It is much more exciting as an actor to work on a project that challenges you.
Q.Which film role would be your ultimate film role to play?
I think any actor who doesn’t reply to this question by saying Bond is lying! But in truth, as I establish my career I just want to play roles that I can properly immerse myself in. I would like to play someone nice at some point but playing the bad guy is quite a lot of fun so…I’ll accept a Bond villain if it’s offered to me!
Q. Do you feel like you have any similarities to your new character Gavin Turner in Undercover?
Gavin Turner and I have nothing whatsoever in common. Apart from his taste in jackets which is impeccable! No, he is a nasty, nasty piece of work and in all seriousness I found parts of the filming quite tough, particularly the way he treats women. There were some quite intense scenes that stayed with me long after. I do think it’s your responsibility as an actor to try and find the good in a character, try and find what makes them tick but I found Gavin had a dark soul. I guess
Q.Your role in the Kray movies what lengths did you have to go through to become that character?
I started to feel some empathy for him and realised he acted the way he did to try and prove himself to his father and his sister, but I can’t say there are any similarities between him and me. And I wouldn’t want to go the pub with him!
I wouldn’t say I had to go to any lengths to become Ronnie. I did as much research as possible in the (very) short amount of time I had to prepare for the role and tried to base my interpretation of Ronnie Kray on the reality I could glean from books and those that knew him. But it was a pleasure to play him. He had so many layers, from his almost sadistic love of violence to the love he had for his brother, to his schizophrenia and really it was a gift of a part for an actor – particularly as it was my first feature film! By the end of the shoot it did become trickier to leave Ronnie on set, but I used to use my glasses as a tool. When I put them on, I was Ronnie, when I took them off I was a normal, civilised human being. I am still so grateful that I had the opportunity to play such an infamous figure, wear trench coats, smoke cigars, drive around in beautiful cars and slice numerous faces off! Quite an experience.
Q. Do you have a 5 year plan on where you would like to be in your career?
I just want to keep building my career over the next 5 years. Keep working in British Independent Film, keep working with excellent hungry directors and hopefully branch out and really begin to establish myself. I feel very driven and determined to push on and play a diverse range of characters. That’s where the excitement lies, in new scripts and new characters and projects you can really get your teeth into. I’m hoping there will be many more to come. I’m a playwright as well and close to seeing my first play performed on the London stage, so exciting times to come.