Dexter Fletcher is the first to admit that working on “Terminal” was a bit of a “busman’s holiday.”
Over the last few years the “Lock, Stock And Two Smoking Barrels,” “Layer Cake” and “Kick-Ass” star has forged an impressive career as a director, overseeing “Wild Bill,” “Sunshine On Leith,” “Eddie The Eagle” and the upcoming Elton John biopic “Rocket Man,” as well as a part of “Bohemian Rhapsody.”
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But Fletcher admitted to me over the phone recently that “Terminal” and the role of Vince, one of two assassins that become caught up in a high-risk mission seemingly led by Margot Robbie’s Annie, was just too good an acting opportunity to turn down, so returned in front of the camera.
Not just because of its esteemed cast, which includes Margot Robbie, Simon Pegg, and Mike Myers, but also because it gave him the opportunity to tap into one his favorite films, 1957’s “Sweet Smell Of Success.”
What first stood out for you about “Terminal”?
I mean certainly the fact that Margot was producing piqued my interest. Then Simon Pegg, who I have known since the days of “Band Of Brothers” got me interested, and Mike Myers is always good value. So it was definitely the cast that made me go, ‘Ah, this should be interesting.’ Plus I hadn’t done some acting for a while. The script was interesting and Vaughan had written something that was in a film noir vein, and I hadn’t read anything like that in a long time. It is something I like. There were a few things that got me interested.
The film clearly has a myriad of influences, was there one film it reminded you of?
Interesting. I don’t know. I actually thought it was like “Sweet Smell Of Success,” because the dynamic between Vince and Alfred (Max Irons) reminded me of Tony Curtis and Burt Lancaster in that film. I liked the idea of playing the older guy to a younger guy and them having a go at each other. That appealed to me greatly. Plus there’s a lot more going on than people realize. And that’s a great thing about it. It is layered. Because there is so much double-crossing going on. Neither of them know what the f*** is going on. The great thing about Vaughan Stein is that he has an original and distinct way to tell the story through all of these influences.
Talk about working with Vaughan Stein.
When we first talked, he spoke for an hour and a half about it. And he was just so passionate and he had a great idea about what he wanted to do, especially using Budapest. He wanted to create the world using his own imagination, rather than doing everything period correct and from a specific time. Obviously there were character and movie references in there. But I think the idea of these two hitmen who think they are in control even though neither of them are and the journey down the rabbit hole, this dark take on “Alice In The Wonderland,” there was a lot going for it, rather than being just your bog standard gangster thriller.
It certainly feels very unique.
Yeah, exactly. I think when you get to it, and you have someone like Margot and her husband Tom (Ackerley) behind it you can get to a certain level. They can get a certain budget. Which made it a rare treat.
It is interesting that you saw this as a return to acting. Is acting a bug for you?
Directing is massively time consuming and all consuming. It is a 2 year long process. “Terminal” came in a window that I had. And it was one of those rare occasions where Vaughan had looked at my work and gone, ‘Look, I want you to come and do it.’ So when you flatter an actor like that, and I had the time to do it, because I had just come from directing “Eddie The Eagle,” and it was a million miles from that world. Plus I was in the process of getting my next film off the ground. So it was a bit of a busman’s holiday in that respect. I hadn’t had a major part like this since I had started directing. So I had to give it a go. And I had enormous fun doing it.
"Terminal” has now been released in theaters and is available On Demand / Digital HD.