Twenty-one year old Craig Roberts graduated from kids TV to film with a memorable performance as Oliver Tate, an eccentric teenager intent on losing his virginity, in Submarine.
Since then, the young Welshman has not looked back. He is currently appearing in the thriller Red Lights, with Robert De Niro and Sigourney Weaver, and will soon be seen playing his first lead character since Submarine, in the London-set hostage drama Comes a Bright Day.
Did you have a lot of choice as a result of Submarine?
"There was a lot of choice but a lot of things were similar to Submarine. People have been saying with this there's little similarities to the character of Oliver, but I don't know. I think Sam in Comes a Bright Day presents himself a lot cooler, and although he is very insecure and doesn't really like to take chances, he is quite gentle and wants to please everybody. Which is how I'm not in the real world."
What are you like?
"I piss everybody off. No, no, I'm joking. I don't know how I am. Maybe I'm a douche [laughs]."
The setting for Comes a Bright Day is almost like a theatre stage. Was it nice working in such an intimate space?
"It was nice being that intimate with Imogen Poots. That was fantastic. I was up for that. I said, 'We should definitely do a kissing scene, or maybe a sex scene.' But they weren't listening to me, and we didn't have enough time. Independent movies, there's no money. Tsk."
You have said elsewhere that you learned to act on Submarine. Can you elaborate?
"Well when I look back on my kids TV stuff, I'm like, 'Oh fucking hell'. It's pretty over the top; and that's how you have to be, there's no other way. But Richard [Ayoade, writer/director of Submarine], he stripped me back and told me the right way to do it. These little things he told me that really clicked."
"One thing, definitely, is blinking. I now hate actors that blink too much on screen. When people blink, I turn the movie off. So I don't blink at all."
You were in virtually every scene of Submarine. Was it quite nerve-racking?
"Yeah, especially with the cast they had. But because it was so different to anything I had done I almost became Oliver Tate for that period. So I sort of forgot about everything else and after Submarine I was very much dry and very much weird for a long period of time, obviously because of being stripped back so much. It's changed my life, in a way."
Has it changed it in the way that other people see you or the way that you see yourself?
"The way I see myself, probably not. I still don't care if I'm bad. If someone was like, 'You're awful,' I'd be like, 'Thank you. That's awesome.' But it's definitely changed how people see me. A lot more doors have opened, and the people that weren't liking you are now liking you. That's cool and it's not cool as well, because I'm like, 'You didn't want to see me before that film . . .'"
Is it difficult sussing out the fake from the real?
"I have like two best friends, one that I grew up with who's not an actor, and one that is an actor that lives near me in Wales, and they're my friends. I don't have any other friends, really, in the industry. I have acquaintances and people that I will go out for coffee with. But you don't go out to an event and pick up a best friend. It's an interesting industry, it definitely is."
How much say do you now have in what you do?
"Now I get to decide what I get to do. I am currently writing a TV show about the fall of an actor's career."
It's a bit soon for that, isn't it?
"Well I'm predicting my career, you know? So yeah, it's a documentary [laughs]. Funny or Die like the character so I've done some sketches with them. Basically the actor goes out to America to get representation and offends a lot of people. That's pretty much it."
What was your experience like?
"My experience was pretty weird. I'm not very American - I don't have perfect teeth, I don't go, 'I'm brilliant, so you should employ me', I'm very self-deprecating and I'm British - which is cool, but they still got it."
So the character's not based on you then?
"It's people around me that I have seen that believe in their own hype, that believe that they're great and stuff, and there's only one way to go from there and that's down. It's either that or you end up in rehab with Lindsay, you know what I mean?"
You're in the thriller Red Lights with some big names. What was that like?
"I didn't have scenes with De Niro but I had scenes with Cillian Murphy. Sigourney Weaver's in one of the scenes, and I have a couple of scenes with Elizabeth Olsen. She's incredible, and so beautiful as well. I think she's going to have a really good career. And I made really good friends with Cillian as well, which is really nice. We're doing a World War 2 movie this year, which should be interesting because I can't take anything seriously. So it will end up like Tropic Thunder."
I read you were hoping to meet Eminem this year.
"Yes! I have to meet him! This is one thing I have to do! The fucking guy's my hero. I fucking love that dude. I don't know what it is. I think it's almost like he broke into the industry and did it by saying stuff he wasn't supposed to say. But because he was good, people had to deal with it. I fucking like that. I think that's really cool. Yeah, respect to Eminem!"
Comes a Bright Day is released July 13, Red Lights is out now.
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