I filmed my part in "Manilla Envelopes" today. Although the character had been renamed "Donny Weedbag", the lines in the script were still marked "Tony Wilson", as if the writers wanted to make sure I understood that they'd written the part for someone else.
After the audition on the pant-strewn sofa I had expected the filming to be quite amateur, and probably only involve two people and an old camcorder. But although they were clearly doing things on the cheap there was a reasonable size crew and a proper studio and actual equipment. Someone had had to nip down to the chemist to get some make-up which theyn themselves had to put on me and my fellow actor, but taxis, breakfast and lunch were all provided.
It all went pretty smoothly and my scene was over by lunch-time. As we ate I was sitting at the same table as a French guy who was making a behind the scenes documentary on the film, presumably for the DVD release. He seemed very friendly which I thought was nice and as I chatted with the director he suddenly chipped in, "This is amazing for me. I've seen "24 Hour Party People" six times". This is the film about Tony Wilson with Steve Coogan in it.
I presumed he was making a comment about the fact that my character is called "Tony Wilson" in the script and said, "Well, I wasn't actually trying to do an impression of him. It was a different character in the end." When I suggested that they'd possibly wanted Tony Wilson for the part the director denied it, not realising that I really wouldn't have cared. It was nice to get offered a part and I have no problem with accepting sloppy seconds (in an acting sense anyway). The French guy was struggling to keep up with the conversation due to linguistic barriers, but smiled at me nonetheless. Later on I overheard him saying that this was his first Bonfire night in the UK as he'd only lived here for six months.
Just before we left one of the writers (one of the guys who'd auditioned me) and the French guy went outside to interview me about my reactions to the film. My scene was very short and the writer who was conducting the piece to camera, didn't seem to be able to think of any questions. And it didn't help that I could no longer remember the name they'd given my Tony Wilson character at the last minute. It all fell apart very quickly.
But as we were walking back inside the writer told me that the French guy was very excited to meet me as he was a big fan of my work. In fact he wanted his photo taken with me.
I was very surprised about this. Not only does this not happen very much with English people, this guy was not only a Frenchman with only a moderate understanding of English, but he'd only been in the country for 6 months and I'd done next to nothing he could have seen in that time. Unless he was in Morecambe the other week.
"Really," I said surprised, "So what of mine have you seen?"
There was a bit of a pause and then the French guy said, "I've only seen 24 Hour Party People."
So this was a slightly embarrassing moment. I don't have any connection with that film whatsoever. "Manilla Envelopes" is the only film he might have seen me in and that's not out yet. I couldn't even begin to understand what his misunderstanding was. Did he think I was in it? If he's seen it six times then surely he would know that I am not. Did he think I was Steve Coogan? Surely not.
Or had he misunderstood the script and when he'd seen the name "Tony Wilson" above the dialogue, he'd assumed that that was the actor's name? But if he's seen the film six times he would surely know all the action took place some time ago and that Tony Wilson wouldn't be my age. In any case, the interviewer had been calling me "Richard".
It was confusing. Maybe unbenownst to me I did appear in "24 Hour Party People" after all. I have been drinking quite a lot recently, but surely not so much that I'd forget doing the filming and also miss spotting myself in the film when I watched it.
I could have told him the truth, but he seemed so delighted to meet me and he'd just had his picture taken especially. I was more worried about making him looking like an idiot than having to admit that I wasn't whoever he imagined me being. But I wish I'd asked because I'd really like to have known what was going on in his crazy Gallic head.
And I want to know when he's back home and going through his photo album, what is he going to say to his friends and family when he gets to the photo of me and him. "That's me and Tony Wilson"? "That's me and Steve Coogan"? "That's me and the bloke from a scene in "Manilla Envelopes" that got cut out in the edit, but may be appearing on the DVD"?