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Nick Frost: Cuban Fury

Photo by Matt Nettheim

We got star and producer Nick Frost to take a break from the press tour tango to have a quick chat about his new film – and first big screen romantic lead – Cuban Fury.

Nick Frost is effusive in his praise of his Cuban Fury co-stars, a stellar lineup that includes The IT Crowd star Chris O’Dowd, perennial hard man Ian McShane and recent Parks And Recreation departure Rashida Jones. O’Dowd, for example, draws praise for his incredible physical control, particularly when filming the large number of scenes that required him to hit Frost in the testicles.

“I think only twice did my eggs feel the leather of his shoe,” Frost recalls mistily. “Only twice, yeah. He was quite good at pulling them and I was quite good at sensing where his shoe would be and just lifting up slightly – just squeezing them up inside.”

In McShane’s case, Frost freely admits to being mildly terrified of the man who made Deadwood such a remarkable viewing experience with his turn as the venal, Machiavellian Al Swearengen. “Yeah! Yeah, absolutely. He’s Ian McShane – he’s amazing! I met him when we did Snow White together and I loved working with him. He just seemed – I hate to use the term no-brainer, but it was just like, ‘Yeah, you’re prefect. D’you fancy doing it?’ and he was just, ‘Yeah, let’s ‘ave it.’  He really couldn’t be convinced quick enough. He’s pretty terrifying, but he’s a big teddy.”

And then there’s Rashida Jones. “Well, you have a list of people you would love to work with and she was at the top of my list. I met her and we went and had afternoon tea in town after we flew her over to meet us. The afternoon tea became drinks at five and then we were having dinner and before you knew it we’d been hanging out for six hours and there’d been not a moment of awkward silence. When you meet people like that, it’s really kind of rare, you know?”

They’ve all come together for a film that sees Frost’s frumpy office drone rediscover his suppressed love of salsa dancing in order to pursue his alluring new boss (Jones). McShane essays his estranged salsa instructor, while O’Dowd brings the smarm as his romantic rival. Frost, so often the sidekick, takes centre stage this time around.

“It is my first romantic comedy lead – as a feature film, anyway. I did a big drama series for the BBC a couple of years ago and I led that. That was a romantic role and I’ve done a couple of other little bits and pieces, but this was my first lead in a feature. But was I trepidatious about it? I’d say no. I think it’s only now that I’m doing press on my own and there’s no room with Simon (Pegg) and Edgar (Wright) in it – that’s the first time I’ve really thought about it. In terms of being on set every day, there’s no difference. I never thought I was anything but the lead in the films I made with Edgar and Simon – it was just the three of us making films together.”

Frost himself originated the story, but was somewhat hesitant to pursue it. “It was my idea and I had the idea for many years – I’m the producer. After doing the films that I do with Edgar and Simon I think I felt like I really wanted to do something completely different and put myself through something and challenge myself.

“I’ve always liked dancing a lot, secretly. I do it a lot at home – and it was just a good idea! You always know when something is a good idea when you can’t shake it, you know? I think I had that thing where I was fearful of saying it; I was fearful of saying the words, because I knew that then it would be out of my hands and I might potentially have to become a dancer. So it was only when I, one night, was in the drink and I decided to send Nira (Parks) my producer an email. I hit send – I was courageous enough to hit send on the email. Then, when I woke up the next morning, there was an email from Nira saying, ‘This is a great idea. Why don’t you come in and we’ll talk about it.’”

Even with a production deal quickly locked in, Frost faced months of preparation for the role, which required him to be extremely light on his feet. “Well, it was seven hours a day every day for seven months which, for a romantic comedy about salsa dancing, it sounds kind of insane that I’d even bother. But point was that I wanted to do it all; I wanted to put the effort in and become a dancer.”

TRAVIS JOHNSON