The Inbetweeners Movie: an interview with stars Simon Bird, Blake Harrison, James Buckley and Joe Thomas

As The Inbetweeners Movie hits the big screen, we talk to its four stars about its making, and whether it really marks the end of a classic sitcom…

The adventures of The Inbetweeners look like they’re coming to an end, as The Inbetweeners Movie hits the big screen. We chat to Simon Bird, Blake Harrison, James Buckley and Joe Thomas, at a round-table interview for the movie…

The film seems to have been shrouded in secrecy so far…

Blake Harrison: That’s simply because it finished late. We had a very small period of time, from when the film was conceived until now. Compared to a lot of other films that come out, things like The Hangover and The Hangover II, they would have had at least three times the amount of time than we’ve had. It was just a simple case of finishing touches not having been made.

Simon Bird: We were still filming in June, and I didn’t do the voiceover until a couple of weeks ago. It’s just been a massive rush to have it done in time.

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BH: But it’s ready now.

Do you feel a certain degree of pressure, knowing you’ve got such an expectant fan base?

BH: I think The Inbetweeners was very much a show that got a cult fan base through word of mouth. It wasn’t necessarily due to big marketing or anything like that. It was just that people told their mates about this show called The Inbetweeners.

SB: Which means it wasn’t out fault. This time, we’ve got our money where our mouths are, which is a very scary prospect. Seeing our faces on buses is quite scary. Hopefully the film lives up to the expectations.

Was there a sense of not wanting it to be Kevin And Perry?

BH: We get that question a lot, I don’t know what everyone’s got against Kevin And Perry. It’s got this bad reputation that we don’t necessarily agree with. The fundamental difference is that Kevin And Perry came from a sketch and this is a sitcom. I think it’s easier to transfer a sitcom to a film.

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SB: A sitcom can all just be jokes really, then you can start all over again next week.

BH: You’ve only got twenty-four minutes rather than ninety minutes for the film. I think the film is still standalone, because Damon Beesley and Iain Morris always wanted to do a British teen comedy. There hasn’t been one before, nothing like American Pie or Superbad.

SB: This wasn’t an idea that they had set for The Inbetweeners, they might have even had it before the show. They’ve always been talking about trying to do a British teen comedy movie, it just so happened that The Inbetweeners became a big hit and was too good a fit to do with different characters.

BH: They were just lazy and couldn’t be bothered to do a different casting process, that’s what really happened.

The film’s been given a 15 certificate, was there much you had to cut out to get that?

SB: We were very keen to make it a 15 because, while the DVD of the show is an 18, when it goes out on TV, there aren’t any rules about who can watch it. We’re well aware that a large part of our fan base are under 18, so it seemed a bit mean to make a film that they wouldn’t be able to see. And actually, the stuff the censors had an issue with wasn’t anything that affected the jokes, so the language and way it’s written is still exactly the same.

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BH: You can actually say a wide variety of swear words, but if you say them in an aggressive way, that makes it an 18. These characters are generally quite innocent so that didn’t become a problem.

Is the film going to tie up all the loose ends from the series?

BH: I think it kind of rounds the show off quite nicely. The whole thing with these characters is that nothing really happens in their lives, they’re just waiting for their lives to start much as anyone does at that age. It’s rounded off as much as it can be for those characters, but there’s no huge climactic moment because you just wouldn’t get one at that age.

Is this the absolute end for The Inbetweeners?

SB: It feels like the right time to finish it, as none of us wanted it to continue beyond its sell by date. The show is about schoolboys, so I don’t think it would work once they left school. It could be contrived and forced to try and do anything further.

When you first started, did you ever envisage the success it would have?

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James Buckley: I never once thought about the future when we were making that first series, I just thought I was making something that I found funny. I completely forgot that what happened next would depend on whether people liked it or not.

Joe Thomas: The show doesn’t have any big hook to sell it, and the first series’ stories were quite everyday, with quite run-of-the-mill characters. They’re nothing special, in a way.

JB: At the time we were filming, Skins had just come out on TV, and it was really popular. It showed kids off in a trendy, romantic light, and we were doing the complete opposite to that. I then thought that maybe we were doing the wrong thing.

JT: The show didn’t seem to be reaching any dramatic climax, it was just one thing after another, so we were never sure where the money shots were, or the things that might make it memorable. The vision was really Damon and Iain’s, as they knew people had a large appetite for characters that are normal and recognisable. You don’t need to over-dramatise life, you can just reflect it. It’s more interesting, in a way, if it appears to ring true. I think that’s what took me a while to realise, those things that were making the show successful. Our show deals with those people that you would pass over, because there’s so many teenage boys like this, why would you bother following four of them in particular? The writers just have a real love for that time in your life, and they felt they were stories worth telling.

Will you stay in touch?

JB: Of course, we’ve gone from doing nothing to being in this show. It’s been a journey that the four of us have shared and that I’ve really enjoyed personally. It wouldn’t have been as good as it was if it was with any other person. I’ve had other jobs, and there’s nothing as fun as making The Inbetweeners. It’s just the best job ever. You turn up, you muck about, you take the piss, and then they film it and everyone loves you for doing it.

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