Tamara Drewe: The Dominic Cooper & Luke Evans Interviews

Tamara Drewe is a new film from director Stephen Frears (The Queen, Dangerous Liasons, High Fidelity), based on the popular English comic strip and graphic novel by Posy Simmonds, starring English actress Gemma Arterton (Prince of Persia, Clash of the Titans).  As is the graphic novel, the film is a modern reworking of Thomas Hardy’s nineteenth century novel Far from the Madding Crowd.  It is a comedy about a young journalist, once the ugly duckling of her small village town, returning as a much desired beauty, hoping to fix up and sell her old house. She attracts many of the men residing at the neighboring farm, stirring up envy, lust, and gossip amongst the small population.

I had the pleasure of attending a roundtable discussion in Los Angeles, amongst other fellow journalists, members of the cast, and director Stephen Frears.  The interviews were conducted in three parts, as Frears, Arterton, and the male leads, Dominic Cooper and Luke Evans, took turns to enter the room.  The questions presented are a combination of everyone who had a chance to ask one, as many of us obviously had similar sort of questions, with only a limited time to speak with each guest.

The second part of this discussion took place with Dominic Cooper (An Education, Mama Mia!, The Duchess) and Luke Evans (Clash of the Titans, Robin Hood, Blitz (upcoming), who portray the male leads:  Ben Sergeant and Andy Cobb, respectively.

Dominic Cooper as Ben Sergeant

Luke Evans as Andy Cobb


[To Luke] The producers have stated that you were described as wonderfully rural.  Do you feel wonderfully rural?  Do you come from the country?

Luke Evans:  “Yeah, I know what they mean.  I am rural, I come from the South Wales Valleys, and that’s as rural as you can get.  Just a little village, and we’re surrounded by hills, and sheep, and my family are big gardeners and big walkers.  He [director Stephen Frears] obviously saw me an went, “Oh, well he checks all the right boxes.”  Basically, I got Andy.  I understood his physicality and I understood the way he was and who he was.  And the house, getting it back, that was quite sweet.  He never lost his dream of getting it back.  I think it’s the only memories he has of his family, and that’s a really good thing.  He’s a really good guy, he’s a family man, and he wants his own family one day.  So yeah, to have his house was a really big deal I think.”


[To Dominic]  As a rock star, the film shows girls chasing after you, so have you ever had a problem with girls chasing you, or…?

Dominic Cooper:  “I’ve always had a problem with girls chasing me [laughs].”

Luke:  “They camp outside his house all the time.”


So much of the film feels so farcical, like a Shakespearian comedy or like an Oscar Wilde play, which, for actors, can be really difficult to pull off, so I was wondering – was this something you sort of thought about, what thought or research went into this, if any?

Dominic:  “Well, with comedy I think you’re in danger of, well – #1. It’s important that everyone is on the same page with it, because there are not too many extremes with it and the characters are so well drawn out and verge on caricatures a lot of the time.  You have to be careful that they are steeped in realism; you need to believe that these are truthful, real people.  For me, I just found it and what I needed Stephen to guide me with was the sort of confidence to sort of take it as far as I’d like comedically more than anything, which made it more exhilarating to perform.  And the further you can go and the more daring you can be, and stupid in a sort of way, and the more prepared you are to fail…because ultimately you are trying to be funny and if you’re not funny, you look like an absolute idiot.  You need to feel absolutely comfortable in that environment, and he definitely made you feel that way, and if he needed to, he would pull you back.  It was very important also to sort of understand how Posey [Simmonds] saw these characters, saw who they were, and then sort of put your own stamp on it.  I wanted to make it sort of very different from the graphic novel and make him sort of a brighter personality really, although he’s really sort of dislikable.  On paper he’s sort of arrogant and egotystical, but I wanted audiences to sort of like him and basically feel sorry for him.”


Due to its country setting, while it can make some Brits sort of homesick, you guys are more sort of used to being in places like London and here in LA.  Does a film like this make you feel like going out and buying a home in Dorset [where the film was shot]?

Luke:  “I really did sort of think that.  I think we finished in like November time, and I went and hired a house down there for Christmas.  I took my family down there for Christmas, and it’s beautiful down there.  The air is fresh and it’s I dunno, it’s just a beautiful part of England, the UK.  If I could afford a house like that, I would, but the houses there are expensive.”


You guys play rivals in the movie, but did you hang out off set?

Luke:  “Well, we didn’t really have that much time together.  We really only had a few scenes together…”

Dominic:  [to Luke] “I really only got to hate you on the press tour. [laughs]…no, I don’t think we really got to hang out much at all.”

Luke:  “I think we did go out and play a game of pool one night.  We did go out a couple nights for dinner with Stephen [Frears] at a restaurant on the coastline.  But often you’d only come in for a couple hours and then you’d go back to London, because Dorset is only like three hours from London…”

Dominic:  “In some hideous sports car, worse than the one I drove in the film [laughs].”

Luke:  “I’d use to be jealous of him, because he’d come down in these sports cars, do his thing, and then, just like Ben Sergeant, bugger off back to London and leave us all in this sort of village with nothing to do. [Laughs]”


Do either of you hold keepsakes from movies?

Dominic:  “Shh. We can’t talk about that.”

Luke:  “I kept all my socks, because they were really nice socks.  They were woolen socks, I couldn’t wear them with my suits, but they were really nice socks, so I kept them. [Laughs] I’m a simple person, I’m Andy Cobb…what can I say.”


[To Dominic] There are a lot of actors; especially British actors who get on set that want to live their part the whole time.

Luke:  “Thank god he didn’t do that [laughs].”

Dominic:  “They’re lying.”

Well, did you ever worry that it would become harder for you to get in the rhythm of the location of scenes?

Luke:  “He was in an RS Audi for goodness sakes!  It was bright red! [Laughs], he was always in character.”

Dominic:  “I don’t think, with something like this…well the writing is there, I knew who this character was, it was so brilliantly drawn out, and it’s not something that I needed to sit in a dark room and sweat over, wondering how to possibly play a drummer.  As opposed to something like earlier this year, where I played in something where I was Sadam Hussein’s son, and I didn’t really particularly want to stay in character there either, but still with something like that I needed to be much more focused.  Not that I wasn’t focused on this, but there are certain roles where you need to submerge yourself in.  For something like this, it’s kind of a light-hearted comedy, so it something much less intense.”


Similar question Luke, you’ve obviously got bigger types of films upcoming and going on at the moment:  The Immortals, The Three Musketeers, and Clash of the Titans you’ve already done, where is your mind at when you start a movie like that opposed to a movie like Tamara Drewe?

Luke:  “Well you should just approach each one with a fresh pair of eyes, and treat each project like a different one.  There’s different people, different energy, different dynamic, different story, different characters.  So I think its part of an actor’s prerogative to be able to adapt and switch from one story to the next, that’s what we do. And I like that, it’s the variety and the size of the film and all that, which is part of the reason that I do what I do, it keeps me active and keeps me mentally healthy, because I’m always learning something or I’m always doing something different.”


Stephen [Frear]’s pretty self-effacing and humble about his own contributions as a director.  How would you characterize his interaction with the actors?

Dominic:  “Personally, I love how he’s very specific with his casting, and he’d only have done this film if he felt he got the casting right.  So I think that’s half the job done for him, because he trusts what you’re going to do and what you’re going to bring to it…you’re ultimately in the hands of someone that’s got that many years of experience, so it’s interesting watching him develop and edit as he goes along.  There was very little that he shot which wasn’t in the final edit.  We did very little takes, as he thinks actors do their best in the first three.  So you gotta know what you wanna shoot and you gotta shoot it quickly…I think that’s half the talent of someone who’s gotta know what they want and got to shoot it and get on with it.”

Thank you.

Check out Tamara Drewe, opening in limited release this fall in theaters.

See the full movie review here.




3 Responses to “Tamara Drewe: The Dominic Cooper & Luke Evans Interviews”

  1. Aaron Neuwirth

    One note to add: The two of them both arrived wearing white t-shirts with jeans, and joked that they looked like a boy band. Nice guys, though.

  2. Gerard Iribe

    That was a lot of fun, Aaron.

  3. Brian White

    This is AWESOME Aaron! You did an outstanding bang up job of transcribing everything. I could not ask for anything more and best of all…we have 2 more days of these to look forward to with princess Gemma on Friday! I’m looking forward to it!