Charlie Creed-Miles may look young, but
the youthful visage hides over ten years' work as an actor. On
television he has had a hatful of lead roles from that nursery
of British talent Press Gang (which also spawned the careers
of Sadie Frost, Julia Swahala and Dexter Fletcher) through Drop
the Dead Donkey, The Upper Hand and Faith in the
Future. He also appeared in the seminal BBC Screen Two presentation
Loved Up. On the big screen his notable credits have included
Peter Medak's Let Him Have It, Hanif Kureishi's London
Kills Me, Ben Ross' Young Poisoner's Handbook, Danny
Cannon's Judge Dredd and Luc Besson's The Fifth Element.
He also took Cannes by storm in 1997 with his stunning portrayal
of Billy in Gary Oldman's
seminal Nil by Mouth.
Charlie sees his character as being the everyman that brings the audience into the new world: "You could call Billy the innocent, he's a young Essex cab driver who slowly gets sucked deeper and deeper into the underworld.
"I suppose he's also the conscience, in a film which is full of so many amoral people. Obviously Billy's not exactly Snow White, but he still has his sense of right and wrong. He's a nicer character than most of the others, that's for sure. Billy is drawn towards the glamour of the gangster life - that's part of his chemistry and goes a long way to explain how he's sucked in in the first place.
"It's the first time I've worked with Sean and he's been incredibly impressive - just completely believable. He's great to act opposite because, when you have such a strong actor to play off, you're sucked into the whole belief of the situation. I think most of the heavy scenes have come out really well - let's hope anyway.
"I have done more physical work on this film than I think I've done on anything else to date, even though I wasn't actually doing the stunts. For the first time I've had bullets exploding on me - pretending to be shot off my feet and things like that which are really good fun. I've also had my fair share of crawling through marshes and reeds. There's been some nice things for me to do, and I've enjoyed all that side of it. But the closest thing to a stunt is me driving, and most of that is done on a low-loading truck!
"It's a stylish movie, but I don't think this is too stylised. Acting wise, everyone on this is trying to create reality and a sense of authenticity. Saying that, it's not the same type of film as Nil by Mouth at all. Whereas I would like to think that the acting is going to be as strong, it's for a different cause - much more for the narrative drive whereas Nil by Mouth was more fly-on-the-wall material. Essex Boys is a very structured piece, and a very traditional story - it has a beginning, a middle and an end. It has it twists and its turns, and for that reason it's a very different film.
"To be honest this is the kind of film I would definitely go out of my way to see. The whole gangster genre is there for the taking, and people love a gangster film - as I do myself. I've always been a huge fan of Scorsese films in particular. I think Terry and Jeff's script has really drawn a lot from this great tradition, especially in the way that the story is told with the voice-over throughout. If pushed I would say it could be compared with Goodfellas - especially as Ray Liotta plays a similar everyman character to myself.
"I usually play characters younger than myself, but in this case I'm not too sure. The age isn't specified in the script and, to be honest, it's not something I've thought about. The character is old enough to drive, but young enough to be impressed by the glamour of violent crime. I think the anonymity of his age will help the audience relate to the character.
"Sean has certainly got to gnps with the cockney accent. Some of it has really given us the giggles as he gets hold of those little gnarly vowels and gives it his all. As the Cockneys would say, 'he really gives it large you know'! He really goes for it, which is lovely to see because he's such a very unassuming guy when you meet him. But when he gets out there and is doing his thing, he's really focused and giving it everything which is lovely, and that's what acting is all about.
"I've loved every minute of doing this. There's no point in doing something and not enjoying it. And obviously I'm not fun and games '24/7'. When you've got something difficult to do you have to focus. But after the rough scenes we all go a bit mad again. I've had a great time on the film.
"I've especially liked working on the locations in Essex. The marshes were terrific - such a fabulous, moody atmosphere. And Southend? Well it's always great fun. We've completely combed Essex and found some really strange and wonderful places. To be honest I even liked the night shoots. Once you got used to it, they are quite bizarre, because you get home and the sun's coming when you're going to bed.
"Terry's directing is great, he has
a really strong vision. When a script is so complete before you've
even started work, you know that you're on to a winner. I believe
that all the elements that go into making a good film are important
- everything from the script, to the acting, to the wardrobe and
make-up. You've got to have excellence across the board to stand
a chance of producing something good at the end. Terry commands
a lot of respect on set. If there is something that has to be
talked about, then you know that he's gonna listen to you and
digest it, which is really nice."
Sean Bean (Jason Locke)
Alex Kingston (Lisa Locke)
Charlie Creed-Miles (Billy Reynolds)
Tom Wilkinson (John Dyke)
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