I was told (by someone who knew Vas Blackwood well), that he was "a man of few words". They must have been joking! Vas Blackwood is one of the best actors in London and has stayed remarkably humble as I found out as we chatted over pizza and diet coke. Vas isn't a guy who is afraid to get his hands dirty by accepting smaller roles that help him hone his skills. You hear things occasionally about actors who don't love constantly being associated with one particular role. And then there are those who embrace the long-term adoration from fans for the signature characters they've played. Vas seems to be an example of the latter group, as evidence by his love for reciting some of his most memorable quotes From 'Only Fools and Horses' and 'Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrells'.
Lunch with Vas is refreshing in every sense of the word. No holds barred, the brighter-than-white teeth, he jokes at his own expense and with heartfelt honesty. Defining Vas Blackwood is no easy task. Throughout the interview he breaks into a joyful grin; his slightly down-turned brown eyes are heavy with soul, until they flash with mischief. You cannot help but watch him. Comically he is also spot-on.
Vas you play Detective Boaz in OFFENDER, what can you tell us about your character?
Well Detective Boaz is um, a creation obviously from the writer Paul Carter and what basically happened was that Ron Scapello the Director approached me about the script and he told me about this little role, he told me it was a little cameo an interrogation scene. He told me to read the script and tell him what I think. So I read the script and I loved the story. And there is this character Boaz and I thought yeah, if this is the guy who sends these horrible characters to jail then I am down with it. I knew because of the place of the script there had to be swagger about Boaz. He's the type of plain clothed detective that understands street talk, he's come from the street but he's bettered himself. He went to Comprehensive and then probably straight to Hendon and experienced racism within the police, experienced people saying saying my friends are black to hearing jokes about black men having big dicks! When he was a teenager racism was kind of like acceptable, when as now with social media you have to watch what you say and how it reflects. Generally people have an understanding of racism. His black friends did n't like him because he became a copper- that's a grass. You had the riots in the 80's and all this that and the other. He kept with it, and now he is a plain clothed Detective of higher ranking. And these riots happened and I can tell you know when they happened I did nt understand them. Did you understand them. No one understood them. Did you understand them breaking breaking into sports shops and stealing trainers and burning the shop. It was something abstract. So they put Boaz on the case. And he was n't taking no bullshit. A lot of the kids were going around at the time going it were n't me. Social media again caught them out. So Boaz has gone with the times and to develop Boaz in the moment of this script, in the moment of the movie as a character that you just can't fuck about with. He is bang on them.
Vas what research did you have to do for the film OFFENDER?
I know a lot of police men.
Tell me about the other cast members.
The Director Ron told me when I turned up on set, he said you know this kid is pulling off a great performance. I did a scene with Joe Cole that did not go in the film. It was such a quick scene and I just felt like the guy was dropping into character. I could feel the energy and then obviously watching his performance in the film, he totally blew me away. English Frank my spirit has taken to him. I just liked him. I'm a big fan. I listen to his music. I like the way he delivers his music. I think he is very talentedI think he is doing another film with Revolver. He said he'd like to do another film with Revolver. I've told him straight, I wanna be in that film with him because I just loved his work. I have strong admiration for him. And there is something about his he is very humble.
What do you think the audience will take away from the film?
I think they will take um, well basically don't get involved in the riots, and don't end up in a youth Offenders nick!
How do you unwind after filming?
"Who me? I just switch off".
So how did you get into acting?
I did a bit of acting at school in school plays and that. I wanted to go into catering because I am a great cook. I'd have been a brilliant chef. I decided against that and told my parents I wanted to go to drama school. I want to ALRA. I kind of quit ALRA before I was pushed out, they said I'd never be a good actor. So I left ALRA and went to The Old Red Lion pub instead. It's a Theatre pub in Islington. I'd hang out there and watch plays and hang out with Phil Daniels and Phil Davies and i met a few Directors there. I started going to work shops and holding my own. Then through the black theatre co operation Lenny Henry and Dawn French came down to see me play at Riverside Studios. They spoke to me after the plain the bar. And Lenny signed me up to a role as his side kick Winston and I ended up doing that. And then in doing that Guy Richie used to rush home from school to watch me as Winston.Then I did Lock Stock. But before Lock Stock Ray Butt Only Fools and Horses Executive Producer phoned me up. He got me in his office and said read this script i'll be back with ya. I read the scripts called the longest night. I read it in thirty minutes and he came back in the room forty five minutes later. He asked me what I thought I said, well Rodney, Del and Uncle Albert and i've got them all in a room and i've got a gun. I said it's a really funny script Ray. And he said good your gonna do it. So I did it. That performance was like a Theatre performance because it's actually done in a live studio audience. It's a killer that episode. People still recognise me today from Only Fools and Horses.
Tell me about Lock Stock.
I said oi Guy I want to wear a wig. He thought about stand he went alright and i wore a wig. A big afro one. People come up to me everyday and give me the big up on Lock Stock. When we were out in LA we met Brad Pitt and he came up to us and he knew everybody's line in the film. That's how he ended up in Snatch. I pissed myself when he did my line from Lock Stock, he was brilliant with the accents. That's when Guy got the idea of him playing a Pikey in Snatch.
Who is the favourite Director you've worked with?
Guy Richie is my favourite Director I've worked with he is the best Director I have ever worked with. He's the dogs bollocks. He's the nuts you know. And you know what else he is a really sharp guy. I was with him not too long backhand he's got his head screwed on. He is so cleaver. I was in his office once on Wardour Street and head of Colombia phoned him up one time, and Guy said tell them I'm not here. Head of Colombia phoning him up and he's saying tell them I'm not here. Can you imagine? He's such his own man. Just a brilliant man.
Oh, lest we forget, Vas is also one slick dude.