For years our Editor has been for the role of a lifetime as the lead in, ‘The Oliver Reed story’ and has spent untold days drinking himself into a coma and spending nights in police custody. For years he’s been in practice until we eventually had to point out to him that he’s not an actor and in fairness he’s barely an Editor either (You’re fired! – Ed).
Anyway the lengths that some actors go to to prepare for roles is well known with De Niro famously having eaten himself fat for Raging Bull probably being the best example. It seems that upcoming British actor Joe Cole is doing the same for his role in ‘A Prayer Before Dawn’ which premiered at Cannes today and could be his breakthrough in film.
UK Audiences might know him form Peaky Blinders, but he has also been in the Chiwetel Ejiofor-starring crime thriller remake Secret In Their Eyes and Jeremy Saulnier’s rather splendid ‘Green Room’.
2017 will see him in a whole load of new films. He will star alongside Kirstin Dunst in thriller Woodshock, has a role in Dreamworks’ drama Thank You For Your Service, and leads Kim Nguyen’s drone drama Eye On Juliet.
But the most promising role is as the lead in Jean-Stéphane Sauvaire’s Muay Thai boxing film A Prayer Before Dawn,
“The story was incredible, but the main thing was Jean-Stéphane [Sauvaire],” recalls the actor on taking up the role. “He wanted authenticity. He didn’t want any actors aside from me, he wanted guys who had spent many years in jail, who knew the inside of a prison better than the inside of their homes.”
Shot on a shoestring budget in a largely abandoned prison in Thailand Cole found himself working alongside a bunch of ex-cons many of whom had been locked up for serious offences “One guy killed three people, he became a champion Muay Thai fighter in prison and subsequently got an early release,” says Cole.
With such a low budget filming, which involved brutally long takes and 18-hour days, meant that there was little escaping authenticity. “Every punch and kick had to connect. You don’t get stunt doubles, you don’t get time to rehearse,” reveals Cole.
The final sequence was shot in a real working prison in front of 2,500 inmates. “They put a boxing ring in the middle of the prison and I had to go toe-to-toe with a pro Thai boxer. It was a case of knocking seven shades of shit out of each other and just hoping that you wouldn’t get knocked out,” reveals Cole, “99.9% of actors won’t experience what I got to experience. I don’t think it would have passed the board of control in the UK and the US, but it was a ride,” he quipped.
Cole, who has to-date been very selective of the roles he takes on, intends to maintain that attitude to roles. “I want to do diverse, challenging projects that I can immerse myself in. Otherwise, I’m quite happy to potter around South London and work on my own materials,” comments Cole, who has also said that he wants to branch out into working on his own projects in the future.
International release dates for the film are yet to be confirmed but her’s a clip…….