KINKY BOOTS - Q&A with actor Chiwetel Ejiofor, Joel Edgerton, Jemima Rooper & Sarah Jane Potts; producers Tim Firth & Suzanne Macki; director Julian Jarrold and actual real life shoe entrepreneur Steve Pateman
Movie Interview by Neils Hesse
Steve, how strange is it that something that's happened to you in real life has turned out like this?
STEVE PATEMAN: It is very emotional to be here now with all these stars and watching the film was equally emotional. I definitely shed some tears.
Chiwetel, you have had two years work come out in a span of 7 to 14 days, how does that feel?
CHIWETEL EJIOFOR: It feels good, I am proud of all of them. They are all good projects on their own, especially since they are all very different, so I will hopefully be seen in a different light each time.
Chiwetel how did the shoes inspire or hinder your performance?
CHIWETEL EJIOFOR: I was lucky, I had a lot of good people around me who knew what they were doing, so they helped me and showed me the way.
Chiwetel, did you walk around in those shoes a lot in private for practice?
CHIWETEL EJIOFOR: Yes, I ruined my floors, in fact I had to have my floors redone.
Suzanne have you become a bit of a shoe nerd seeing as you spent so much time researching and understanding the whole shoemaking process?
SUZANNE MACKI: Yes it is quite a process, and we wanted the whole beauty of it to come out in the film. Shoemaking is actually quite a beautiful process and we wanted to show all the charisma that goes into it.
To all of you which ones of you have worn the boots in private or public and Sarah Jane apparently you had a bit of a problem with the boots?
SARAH JANE POTTS: I am not really into shoes and I always wear flat ones and normally like just one pair. I have worn the kinky boots once or twice in private but when I put them on in the film, I was initially a bit hesitant but once they were on they felt amazing.
JEMIMA ROOPER: I have worn them once or twice as well in private and I wore them to my local supermarket to get a microwave dinner.
TIM FIRTH: The one time that I decided to try them on was late one night and my 11 year old son just happened to wake up. So I blame kinky boots for the years of therapy that he will inevitably now have to endure.
JOEL EDGERTON: I did a play 10 years ago that required me to wear high heels and so I became quite adept at it. I was quite proud to discover that it's just like riding a bicycle, so I had no problem wearing the boots in this film.
Chiwetel did you ever find yourself having a chat over a cocoa with Mark Wahlberg, your co-star in FOUR BROTHERS, about kinky boots?
CHIWETEL EJIOFOR: Well I still had my waxed eyebrows, but I avoided the subject as I was trying to hold up the whole Detroit mobster thing.
Julian, how did you find the whole experience?
JULIAN JARROLD: There was a lot of fun during the cabaret scenes and the fact that it was coming from a truthful source made the whole thing seem more compelling to me.
Tim, would you say that there is any similarity to CALENDAR GIRLS?
TIM FIRTH: No, this film, I feel that this film is a modern Ealing movie with a twist and I was eager to make a movie with Disney with a transvestite in the lead.
SUZANNE MACKI: Yes and were lucky that Disney understood the whole idea, and so we pushed and pushed until we got to more or less do it in the way that we wanted to do it.
Chiwetel, do you think that this has opened up the possibility of more non-racial casting?
CHIWETEL EJIOFOR: I don't know.
TIM FIRTH: We just chose the best person for the job, essentially we could have gotten someone like Julian Clary who is so obviously camp and gay but we wanted the character to have a few varying shades to him.
SUZANNE MACKI: Chiwetel gave an amazing performance.
So Chiwetel would you say that your character in the film is gay or perhaps bisexual?
CHIWETEL EJIOFOR: He is definitely gay, and I think that it's quite plain that he has a thing for Charlie, the character played by Joel Edgerton.
To all the cast, what challenges did the film pose to each of you?
JOEL EDGERTON: For me firstly overcoming the fear of playing a British guy in a British movie with a British cast when I am actually Australian, but then I realised that there is such a strong cultural exchange between Australia and Britain that it should not be a problem. The accent was hard to do and a lot of it was done out of the fear of being found out as being stressed and scared.
CHIWETEL EJIOFOR: I knew.
JOEL EDGERTON: Yes you did, I realised that my nervousness suited the part so I just went with it.
JEMIMA ROOPER: Joel's script was very well done, so he enabled me to play this mature real estate agent that I would have thought that I was too weird to play but it worked out and my character actually had some sympathy, she was not outright bad.
SARAH JANE POTTS: I am very interested in playing strong women, so I had no problem in making my character as feisty as possible. I also liked the fact that she brought out the best in the people that she cared about.
Steve, in the real factory how did the work force react to the change of shoe designs?
STEVE PATEMAN: We drip fed it into the system, which is actually quite easy as it is only at the final stage that you realize just what it is that is being made. There were a lot of "I am not touching that" outbursts but they all came around and ended up being very supportive.
Steve, so there wasn't actually any moment when you shouted out the line from the movie that all other production lines were being scrapped for the kinky range?
STEVE PATEMAN: No, no shoe factory could survive on just one line, you have to diversify yes, but you still need more than one product to compete.
Chiwetel, how did you cope with the high heels and all the singing, in short the whole drag queen thing and what did you keep?
CHIWETEL EJIOFOR: Plenty of support and trust in the team that was taking me to that point and also we had actual drag queens in the supporting acts on stage so we felt that if we were doing something wrong then they would tell us. I kept a pair of red boots.
Chiwetel, did you arm wrestle Nick Frost for real at some point during filming and do you think that maybe the whole concept of a man in a dress will put off a certain audience just like Nick Frost's character was offended in the film?
CHIWETEL EJIOFOR: Nick gave it a little but I had him, the day was mine. Hopefully people should enjoy the film for what it is.
Apparently the American adverts are very different?
JOEL EDGERTON: We'll somehow add a gun on the poster and that should sort it all out.
SUZANNE MACKI: Miramax are marketing geniuses and they have a great campaign lined up for it.
Joel apparently you found it very hard keeping a straight face whenever Nick Frost was around?
JOEL EDGERTON: Nick is hilarious, in fact every time he had a scene even if I wasn't in it I would come to watch it. In fact initially I avoided watching SHAUN OF THE DEAD because I thought that it would be pretentious but of course after I saw it I couldn't stop laughing and that taught me a valuable lesson to not judge too much before I've seen the film.
Joel, you do a great job with the English accent. How did you do it?
JOEL EDGERTON: I was dubbed, no I had a lot of help from a voice coach and Tim gave me some audio CD recordings of the day to day going-ons at the shoe factory so I got hear both the accents and to get a feel for the business side as well.