The Fall of the Essex Boys - Interview with Lead Actor Nick Nevern
Soon up there’s a Brit gangster flick that revisits Rettendon’s infamous triple murder of drug dealers. Don’t be concerned that this tale is too old as, for once, this takes it away from the just the gangsters and adds the police and shows the true nature of bullying thugs. We luckily had the chance to talk to actor, director and writer Nick Nevern (The Sweeney, Terry) who plays Danny Nicholls, the police’s grass. Almost a common face of the British indie. We talk to him about The Fall of the Essex Boys, the Rettendon murders and the rich hunting the poor.
What attracted you to the story of Darren Nicholls?
When Jonathon Sothcott came and asked me if I wanted to do the film, I was kind of like “oh really? Another one, Jonathon, are we really going to do that?” and he kind of said: “have a read of the script, it’s something slightly different.” When I read it and it was coming from a different place, that the other films hadn’t done – which was the police force – which I thought was really good, it drew me in. I thought Darren’s story in this one would be more layered than he has been in other films; a more complex character than I’d seen before in other films. That was definitely a big draw into taking the part.
Did you feel this added to the Rettondon murders?
Yeah, let’s have it right, this story’s been told a few times now. So if you’re not coming with anything new then don’t come with anything, I guess, which was kind of the reason I decided to jump on board.
Did you base your character on anyone in particular? Did you meet the real Darren Nicholls and base it on him or do it yourself?
No, unfortunately, the real Darren Nicholls is still in Witness Protection. No photos of him exist on the Internet, the only stories that really exist on the Internet are of how much of a bad person he is and you can’t really go on that. The only other thing I could go on was the other portrayals of both Adam Deacon and Neil Maskell who both excellently played him but I’m not going to copy them, I rate them highly but I’m not going to copy what they did. I just tried to come up with something original, something new.
What does it feel like to portray thugs and violent people? Is it a hard mindset to get it in and out of?
It is, it is, really. I think you have to have an element of madness in you to be able to play these kind of parts; you kind of have to know a little bit about that world really to authentically play them. Apart from that it’s just fun, isn’t it? Everyone wants to play a bad guy [laughs].
It must’ve felt pretty badass holding a shotgun and bursting into a warehouse.
Yeah, yeah, it was pretty fun, it was pretty fun. You’ve got to remember, all these guys are my friends as well. That’s another reason I took the job: I’ve known these guys for a long time and I’m in a privileged position to not only do what I love, I get to make movies with my friends as well. Which was also very fun.
Any highlight while making the film?
There were a few highlights for me. Getting to meet Kierston Wareing – big highlight for me – she’s a phenomenal actor and she’s got a lot of balls, if you wanna put it that way, to reprise her role for the third time. And why shouldn’t she? She should be respected for taking that role on again because why should she give it to a younger actor? She should be respected for that. Also working with Robert Cavanah was great. Since then, me and him have become good friends, we talk about doing a project together, maybe in the future, so that’d be nice. It was a fun atmosphere on set, to be totally honest with you. And Peter Barrett, I’ve obviously done, like, five movies with him now, he’s a great guy.
Any future projects you’re looking forward to? Your next directorial is coming up this year, isn’t it?
At the moment I’m directing my own feature called The Hooligan Factory which is like a comedy spoof movie of all the football violence films. It’s kind of satirising [The] Football Factory, The Firm, that kind of thing. It’s a comedy about football violence really, I’m directing that, starring Jason Maza, Tom Burke and Joself Altin. I’m also doing a very quick cameo in my good friend Jonathon Sothcott’s new movie Vendetta starring the one and only Danny Dyer. I rate Danny very highly. It wasn’t even a question for me to do it or not.
There’s another one isn’t there, Manor Hunt Ball?
I don’t know if that’s actually going ahead. It’s one of those projects that’s been in the pipeline for a long time and whether it goes ahead or not, you know, it’s got a fantastic cast attached to it. Ross Boyask is a good friend of mine but to be honest it’s one of those that gets talked about but never happens. I’m about movies that get made, that happen.
I thought the premise sounded really hilarious.
It’s a great script as well. The premise sounds great. A lot of stuff in the film industry gets talked about, “Shall we do this? Shall we do that?”, over a cocktail or two, I’m about making things happen.
Do you prefer directing or acting?
I prefer acting to be totally honest with you. I just love it. Directing is something not new to me but it’s something I’ll get more and more into as I get older. Filmmaking in general is my love and acting is my true passion.
Is there any role or type of role you’d love to do in the future?
Jonathon Sothcott asked me what I wanted to do next and I want to do either a hitman movie or a serial killer film so [laughing] yeah.
Pretty dark then.
[Laughing] Yeah, pretty dark films but I definitely think I’ve got those kind of characters in me. I definitely want to do that before I leave this world.
Could you be an Essex boy – a drug dealer etc. – or would you struggle morally?
My drugs filled teenage years are well behind me. I’m very anti-drugs, to be totally honest, ask anyone that knows me, I’m quite clean. Like cigarettes and alcohol, obviously the two worst drugs [laughing]. But, yeah, I’m not into any of that stuff. When people ask me, like the other day, do I feel responsible or do I have a responsibility to the guys that were murdered in the Range Rover but the answer is no, I don’t. I don’t feel any responsibility or anything for those people because I don’t respect what they did; the people I have responsibility and feelings for are the victims and their families, the people that died, the people that ruined their lives over the drugs these guys sold. I have no problem telling anyone where I stand. I’m sorry that they died, I’m sure they were nice guys sometimes but, at the end of the day, you want to go around selling drugs and being a bad ass then you’re either going to end up in jail or you’re going to end up shot in a Range Rover. These guys have got families and I’ll be sorry for them but I’m more sorry for the families that the people their drugs really hurt.
I watched the film earlier and it wasn’t sympathetic to their characters because they were doing wrong things instead of glamorising them.
Absolutely, absolutely. What drew me to the project as well was that it was more to do with the police. I’m not interested in being in a Tony Tucker, Pat Tate and Craig Rolfe glamorising movie. I’m not into that. My friend Neil Large once said: “There was nothing gangster about them.” It’s true, they’re just bullies. [Whilst laughing] So no, I could never be an Essex boy, to answer your question. I have no interest in going around nicking things and selling drugs, I’ll stick to the acting, I think I’m better at it. It probably pays less but I’ll sleep better at night.
And you won’t get arrested.
Thank you for talking to us, it’s been nice interviewing you.
No, thank you. Thank you very much.
Can’t wait to see your next stuff.
Oh yeah, man, it’s coming soon. Watch out for the The Hooligan Factory that’s the big one.
Go see Nick Nevern in The Fall of the Essex Boys which hits cinemas on the 8th of February as well as his future projects which include Vendetta and The Hooligan Factory which don’t have definitive release dates yet. Nick Nevern’s portrayal of Darren is, like he said, a more multi-layered character in the film than seen before. A much more faceted role than before as you see the guilt, the risk and the help with the police.
We’ll leave you with an exclusive clip from The Fall of the Essex Boys: