By James Mottram

British funny men, Nick Frost and Rob Brydon, prove that the best things come in small packages, as they play the dwarves, Nion and Gryff, in the fantasy follow-up, The Huntsman: Winter’s War. FilmInk caught up with the lads in between takes on the film’s England set.

How’s the shoot going?

Nick Frost: “It’s going really well. No one has been killed. I said to [director] Cedric [Nicolas-Troyan] the other day, ‘I think it’s my favourite job that I’ve ever done.’ It’s just fun. Everyone likes one another, the script’s good, and we get to do fun things. You get to hang out on set…and they pay you. It’s really good.”

So when are you going through hair and make-up?

Nick Frost: “After this. It’s about four hours. [Rob Brydon joins the interview] Hey, Rob…this is Rob Brydon everybody!”

Rob Brydon: “It’s two hours in the morning to put the make-up on, and then about forty minutes to take off. You have to get in two hours earlier than you would otherwise. But the people that do it are lovely. Once it’s on, it’s not as itchy or annoying as I thought it would be, and it helps, obviously, because when you see yourself on the monitor, it does a lot of the work for you. It’s such a strong look.”

Nick Frost: “My four-year-old son completely ignores it. I’ll be talking to him and he doesn’t look. Fortunately, the beard is my own…”

Rob Brydon: “This is not mine, this is not mine, that’s not mine…”

Nick Frost: “Horrible nose…”

Rob Brydon: “No, that’s mine…”

Nick Frost: “Awkward.”

Rob Brydon: “I did have a false nose, and thank god they decided during the early prep stages that they wouldn’t do the nose. But yeah, you get used to how you look.”

Nick Frost: “Plastic surgery would have been easier…”

Rob Brydon: “You do it once and it’s done.”

Nick Frost: “I’m more comfortable at work than I am out of work. Because out of work, I shave my head bald every day, and I do that thing where they cut that bit of my beard, so it’s like giant mutton chops. It’s tough to walk around like that. Women and children are often frightened of me, and I can’t use the public swimming pool. It is a nightmare, but it’ll be over soon.”

Nick, having done the first film, Snow White & The Huntsman, how does this one differ?

Nick Frost: “They’ve retained the darkness from the first one, but then they’ve brought in me and Alex [Roach] and Rob and Sheridan [Smith], and it’s a lot lighter and a lot more fun. Everyone seems to be enjoying that side of it, and it feels right. It doesn’t feel crow-barred, so it’s a nice balance. It takes a little part of the story from the first one, and rebuilds on that part of it. The story is more about Chris Hemsworth and him finding his wife who he thought was dead. Obviously, the dwarves come in and bring a little bit of lightness and stuff. It’s not an unnecessary reboot, and it’s nice how they’ve written it.”

Can you discuss your characters?

Rob Brydon: “Gryff is my character, and he’s the half-brother of Nick’s character, Nion. We have the same mother, but different dads, and we work together as debt collectors. That’s how we rub up against Chris again. They need someone to look for the magic mirror, and we lead King William [Sam Claflin, a mere prince in the first film] to him because we know where he lives. When the king says that we need to get this mirror, I mistakenly think that there’s a reward, so we tag along. So we hapless, out-of-our-depth characters serve as the comic relief. There’s lots of heroism and romanticism going on, and it’s easy to undercut that with just a look or whatever. It’s a lovely part to play because it’s so clear what you’re there for. And then we meet some lady dwarves played by Sheridan and Alex, so that brings another element to them.”

Nick Frost: “You may or may not see some dwarf-on-dwarf loving…which wasn’t in the script. It’s a nice little foursome.”

Rob Brydon: “It’s lovely, yeah. We all knew each other a little bit before, so it’s nice. The interesting conceit in the script is that male dwarves have nothing but disdain for lady dwarves. They think that they’re ugly, stunted, misshapen things. And it’s the same with the women dwarves; they think that the men dwarves are horrible. So we play on that. There’s lots of lovely humour in it.”

Is there any room for improv on a big film like this?

Nick Frost: “We always do everything as written, and then there are always little bits and pieces; Sheridan and Alex are very funny, and Rob is pretty funny. We both come from a comedy background. We do a lot of work off the set, so that by the time we get there we’ll have an idea for something and we’ve worked it out, and then we take it to Cedric. He’s very good, and on the last take he usually says, ‘Do what you want.’ It’s nice to be able to relax and feel confident.”

Rob Brydon: “It’s all precise though. It’s not freewheeling. It’s about finding a little ‘bing’ here and there, a little word. There’s a set-up right at the beginning, and Nick came up with something which is just two words, but it really adds something else to it in terms of humour, and it also explains a little bit of the background. It’s about finding little moments.”

Nick Frost: “You have to realise your place in the food chain, and the film. Because for all that improv, you know that it will all be on the cutting room floor.”

Rob Brydon: “It’s much smarter to look for very specific things, because in reality, it’s an action film.”

What was the coolest scene to shoot?

Nick Frost: “The net was very good.”

Rob Brydon: “We get caught in a giant net. Chris [Hemsworth], Jess [Chastain], and the two of us. We get caught and we get thrown into the air.”

Nick Frost: “We’re like ten feet in the air. It was really sexy to shoot as well, with Chris and Jess.”

Rob Brydon: “That’ll look great. Two adults and two dwarves going voom up in this net, and then there’s a whole scene played out through the net.”

Nick Frost: “The fight stuff was fun as well. It’s always fun to watch Rob’s cowardice. As a real human, you’re quite brave.”

Rob Brydon: “I’m quite aggressive as well. A real man! That’s led me to all sorts of problems, but now is not the time.”

Nick Frost: “Don’t write about that…”

Rob Brydon: “That’s all been dealt with by the courts.”

Nick Frost: “I mean legally…”

Rob Brydon: “You’re not allowed to. Write at your peril…”

What was your favourite fairy tale growing up?

Rob Brydon: “Um, the one about, oh, there were seven boxes in it. I’ll say ‘The Elves And The Shoemaker.’”

Nick Frost: “That sounds like Deal Or No Deal.”

Rob Brydon: “The one with the little guy with the beard.”

Noel Edmond?

Rob Brydon: “Yeah, yeah, that’s Deal Or No Deal. Sorry. Sorry.”

Nick Frost: “I can’t say The Hobbit…that’s not a fairy tale. I was a big Hobbit fan, so… favourite fairy tale? What’s the one with the witch and the house of cakes? ‘Hansel & Gretel’…that’s pretty cool.”

You’re so funny at work, do you feel pressure to be funny at home, or around your friends and family? Or are you grumpy?

Nick Frost: “No, I don’t want to be grumpy…that’s my natural default setting, to be honest. If you were to be funny at work and go home and be funny, they’d lock you up. They’d think that you’re a lunatic. No…if something is funny, then it’s funny. It’s not about doing a character while we have breakfast. I don’t think that I’m paid to be funny, I just happen to be funny. I just happen to be a funny, funny man! Rob?”

Rob Brydon: “I agree with Nick.”

Nick Frost: “Rob, very angry…”

Have you been regaling the rest of the cast with any of your impressions?

Rob Brydon: “I have been asked to. I certainly don’t offer them up without provocation.”

Nick Frost: “If you’re going to do them, then I might go.”

Rob Brydon: “I understand. Yes, some people have asked, and it would be churlish to say no.”

Have you found anyone to do a Michael Caine battle-off with you?

Rob Brydon: “No one has been foolish enough to step up. But it’s quite funny because a lot of the people on this film have worked with Michael Caine; Jess worked with him on Interstellar….”

Being on location, there must be challenges?

Rob Brydon: “Toilets.”

Nick Frost: “They always put the toilets so far away, and with all this gear on, even to have a simple wee takes ages. That’s the only gripe that I have.”

Rob Brydon: “It’s absolutely brilliant. It’s summer, so it’s been warm, and the places that we’ve gone to have been beautiful. It’s stunning. And you get to sit around and people bring you coffee. You can’t really moan about it. With some films, you might be filming in snow, and it’s raining and you’re in the town centre, but this is fantastic.”

Nick Frost: “It’s better than being in a studio. We worked all day Saturday, and we opened the sides of the tent up and the sun was out…it was bloody lovely.”

The Huntsman: Winter’s War is released in cinemas on April 7.


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