Ed Skrein is such a fan of “Kill Your Friends” he’s willing to do interviews while in Barcelona the day after his birthday. The English actor, of “The Transporter: Refueled” and “Deadpool,” only has a small part in the film, based on John Niven's novel and set in London in 1997, during the waning days of Britpop. He’s a hustler and manager, trying to hawk a Spice Girls-esque foursome to a cynical, drug-addled and eventually murderous A&R shark (Nicholas Hoult). Even though Skrein, newly 33, was a young teen back then, he remembers how nuts it was, even though he wasn’t as into the period's music.
So, Blur or Oasis?
People were always asking that: "Are you Blur or Oasis?" I was always like, “I’m f—ing neither of them.” But they did some great things. One of the most amazing things I’ve ever been a part of is Damon Albarn’s African Express project, where he brought together loads of musicians from African and Europe and America. He just threw 120 of us together and said, “Create.” No one was allowed to do their songs by themselves.
Were there bands you were into?
I was into Jamiroquai, but they don’t qualify as Britpop, though they’re obviously British. Me and my peer group, we were more into the golden era of American hip-hop, to be honest. We were into Wu-Tang’s “36 Chambers” and “The Low End Theory” and “Illmatic” and Naughty by Nature. But [Britpop] was certainly something you couldn’t get away from. It was a time of New Labor and there was this optimism about Tony Blair coming into power and cuddling with Noel Gallagher and the Spice Girls.
But that frenzy was short-lived. Blair turned into a hawk, most of those bands flamed out or changed their sounds and “Cool Britannia” was, in 1997, not long for this world.
I love the way John Niven, the author, talks about it, because he talks about it as the last days of Rome. That’s a very interesting comparison in terms of this feeling of being untouchable and people not realizing things are coming to an end, and you need to get as much as you can before it all goes tits up. That’s very much what you see Stelfox [Nicholas Hoult’s character] doing in the movie.
I take it you were a big fan of the book.
I was a huge fan of the novel. Huge, huge fan. We couldn’t believe how cool it was and how irreverent it was and how sarcastic and morbid and dark and brutal it was. It had a huge impact on me. When it came out I bought eight copies just to give to my friends — my friends who don’t usually read books. I said, “You’ve got f—ing read this. This guy writes how we joke.”