Mitchell and Webb

Paul Cook 30/04/2007

After a short wait and a couple of complimentary biscuits we were treated to an intimate press talk with comedy dynamos Mitchell and Webb and Andrew O'Connor, director of Peep Show and their first forthcoming big-screen bash, 'Magicians.' After the hugely successful, Golden-Rose winning Peep Show and BBC comedy “That Mitchell and Webb Look,” the sought-after comedy duo star in their first movie together in this tale of a friendship turned magical rivalry.

To kick things off then a quick question or two about the origins of the new big-screen venture undertaken by the Peep Show team. Robert Webb explains “We've never had a sense of organisation or strategy.” The Magicians project took the two by surprise to say the least; “I don't think we ever expected it, you know, we wanted to do comedy in whatever form anyone would let us for a long time but this came probably earlier than we ever thought we would have the opportunity to do a film” agrees David Mitchell.

Following on, Robert's nude tendencies are thrown into the conversation as he jokes about an imaginary nude contract “that's been written into British Law now, I think!” He continues “There was this quite funny scene where Karl gets locked out of his room and I thought 'oh Christ' here we go again! I thought just because I overdid it last time in Confetti shouldn't mean I refuse to do things that are funny. Luckily Karl, not being a nudist, when he finds himself locked out of hotel room, not wearing any clothes, he does what normal people would do he covers up his balls with his hands so at least the ladies and gentlemen are spared a lingering 'Rob's Cock-Shot!'”

Dominating the conversation, understandably, was the subject of the magic. Director of 'Magicians', Andrew O'Connor, former member of the magic circle talks about his background “I was a member - thrown out for giving away secrets, yes, I don't deny it.” He continues “There's many layers of the magic circle…Associate member…member and - The council.” Robert adds “That's when you really get the pointy hats and you can destroy people with fire coming out of your fucking fingers!” Later when discussing the magic stunts involved in the film, the ever ironical David Mitchell describes his trick attempts:“It half went through my mind, wouldn't it be an awful irony if I cut his head off - But rather than actually worry that I might chop Rob's head off I think I was slightly illogically thinking if I chop his head off I'll never hear the end of it!”

Continuing with the theme of magic, Robert and David discuss the appreciation they have for it and in passing Robert mentions “I've always liked Derren Brown and always slightly despised David Blaine, just for being a stupid bore.”- “I didn't visit him [David Blaine in a box] but I couldn't help being proud of those who did (fire golf balls!) “Anyway, we found out how lots of stuff works and we're not going to tell anybody - we promised.” David adds “It's not some fantastic Jonathan Creek sort of involved solution. No, it's like 'Oh I wasn't looking there!' Yeah that's the point you weren't looking there because of the way the trick was done.” Robert described that he was asked to do the trick in which you roll a fifty pence piece along your fingers, he couldn't and gave up. David was clearly appreciative of some things more than others “There is that footage of someone, dealing, what is called when you're dealing from the bottom?” - “Bottom Dealing?” - “Fantastic, who'd have ever thought of a name like that! And there's footage of it and you play it in slow motion and you literally can't see this person dealing from the bottom and it amazing that's the closest anything gets to real magic”

So it's clear the film has influenced the actors as much as they've influenced the film and that the magic on display should greatly impress given the fact that those involved are highly trained, even if the lead actors are not!

Discussing the cast and crew, all of whom have a great history and experience in comedy we find that the mood on-set couldn't have been better. Robert explains “I got on fantastically well with Darren Boyd who is a very lovely, funny, nice chap - He was in Peep Show actually - He played a racist and he was so convincing in that role I gave him a wide berth for those couple of days actually!” David continues “One of the key things in the way we did 'Magicians' that came from Peep Show was Sam and Jesse always being on-set and I think that is quite rare for a writer on a sitcom or on a film and it's from the start we've had that.”

As for future plans, it looks extremely bright for the two comedians turned magicians and director Andrew O'Connor. “I think we'd just like to carry on as we are” David explains. “We want to wear massive hats with grins on our faces doing…more” adds Robert. David continues “We've just finished the first series of our sketch show on BBC2 and we're doing another one, we'd like to do that for a few years. We'd like to keep doing Peep Show as long as people will let us and we'd like to do more films. There's nothing now that I haven't at least done a bit of - I'm not bursting or wanting to do a travel documentary or anything like that.”

And finally, we reach the killer question - will 'Magicians' be a success and will it inspire a generation of young magicians? O'Connor answers “I'd say if you're a young lad who's into magic this will make no difference whether you like it or not, I think it's rare in a movie where you get to see why magic's funny - with a bad magician you can see why it's funny watching it but we're sort of explaining it a little bit as to why, and find these characters amusing, I hope.”

'Magicians' is released on May 25th and looks set to bring a whole new understanding to the world of magic and if the new series of Peep Show is anything to go by it is sure to be a runaway comedy success at the box-office.