411 Mania Interview: The Inbetweeners Creator Iain Morris
Posted by Jeffrey Harris on 09.08.2012
The Inbetweeners Movie hits theaters stateside this week. So we got to take time and chat with the co-creator of the show and the movie's writer and executive producer, Iain Morris.
The Inbetweeners Movie has already become a global box office hit. The movie which is based on the British television series of the same name that originally aired on the E4 network has grossed more than $71 million with a budget of about $5.5 million. Iain Morris co-created the series along with his writing partner, Damon Beesley. Besides The Inbetweeners, Morris has also done work on the hit series Flight of the Conchords, Free Agents, and Meet Ricky Gervais. Earlier this week, 411mania got the chance to catch up with Morris and speak to him about the success of The Inbetweeners which is now finally making its way stateside for a limited theatrical run.
Jeffrey Harris: Did you ever imagine your show would become like this?
Iain Morris: No, I didn't. I think you'd have to have a cast iron ego to think that it would've gone this far. I think we thought eventually when we first made the series that we were just making a small show for a small network, just for ourselves really. If we got lucky we might get a second season. It's been amazing to see the movie go so well and now it's amazing to see it released over here.
Jeffrey Harris: The show has found a cult audience over here. It was shown in the US on BBCA and now the movie is getting a limited theatrical release. How does it make you feel that fans like the show over here as well?
Iain Morris: It's incredible. Both Damon [Beesley] and I, when we first started writing the show and talking about the show and stuff, a lot of our influences were American. You know, American comedies. American film. It's been fantastic to think that we're being shown on the same airwaves as shows like Freaks and Geeks and Seinfeld and The Simpsons. And it's being shown in cinemas that might've shown movies that we love like Swingers and American Pie. It's great. It's incredibly exciting.
Jeffrey Harris: I got to spend some time with the cast on the press shuttle tour, and they were a great group of young men.
Iain Morris: Yes.
Jeffrey Harris: I guess I was wondering how long was your casting process in originally finding your main cast?
Iain Morris: Well it was a very long process. We did about a year all told. We saw about a 1,000 people. And we made a pilot which we actually had a different cast for. And then we recast – we had a series. And we got a lot of faith from the network and a lot of faith from Caroline Leddy, who was our executive producer at the time – still our executive producer for the film. So they had a lot of faith in us knowing that we did it right. In the end it was almost down to the wire. Blake [Harrison] was the very last person we saw – who [Blake Harrison] plays Neil – after 1,000 people. Simon [Bird] and Joe [Thomas], we were working with them anyway. And it was like you couldn't see the forest for the trees. You got to find two really funny, young guys. Where can we find two really funny young guys? We were spending once a week with seeing them and they were right for it. And James Buckley was just brilliant from the moment he came in. He just was Jay. It was kind of a mixture of luck and judgment really.
Jeffrey Harris: In the show Anthony Head plays Will's father. And Emily Head, Anthony's daughter, plays Carli who is the object of Simon's affections. What was your reaction when you had Anthony Head on your show? Did it inspire you to do cartwheels or backflips?
Iain Morris: While it was quite a funny process because Emily was cast in series 1 before we knew that she was even Tony's daughter. So we didn't even know that. As the show became more successful, weirdly I worked on another show called Free Agents that Anthony was in, in the UK. So I met him a couple of times and he was unbelievably nice and incredibly supportive of Emily's acting and stuff. And he was incredibly nice to me partly because of Free Agents. I think partly because he was happy Emily was working and doing so well on Inbetweeners. And so at the beginning of the film, it was the first time we ever actually showed Will's dad. And I think we just thought it had to be Anthony. We just sort of felt like – we knew he was a big supporter of the show. We knew he loved the show, and we also adored him. Actually, we were at an awards ceremony and I said to Emily, "Me and Damon are thinking about writing this film. Do you think your dad would play Will's dad?" And she was like, "Oh my god! I'll ask him. He'll definitely do it." So it was kind – kind of kept it in the family really. He was shooting The Iron Lady at the time. And he managed to negotiate to get an afternoon off to come in and shoot the scene as Will's dad and it was just so brilliant. He came in and rehearsed as well. It was just brilliant seeing him acting up close having met him a few times. It was incredibly exciting…When you have an idea for casting and you get that idea in mind and then that person says yes straight away, that's about as good as it gets really.
Jeffrey Harris: Did you or Damon Beesley ever have as terrifying an experience in high school as some of the ones depicted in this show?
Iain Morris: Yes, all the time. That's what it's like. I think I mentioned it before, but I think what we felt about The Inbetweeners in terms of pressure situations of high school is it's – everyone sort of goes on about, "teenagers just exaggerate. And it's not as bad as you think it is. It's the best days of your life." But actually, if you're at work and someone punches, that's quite a big deal. But if you're at school and someone punches you, it has to happen quite a lot for it to even become a thing. And then normally the person doesn't get fat or thrown out of school, they get reprimanded a bit. If someone steals your lunch and eats it or constantly is flicking stuff at you, in the work context it would be enormous deal. It's the sort of things you expect to take at school and soak up and be a man about it I guess. When you look back at the things that actually happened at school, it's kind of pretty dog eat dog and pretty relentless.
Jeffrey Harris: Did you ever have an authority figure like Mr. Gilbert?
Iain Morris: I did actually, the head of sixth form who wasn't as nasty. He's called Mr. Gill. He wasn't nasty like Gilbert but he was very, very dry. Like being one of the driest, funniest human beings I had ever met. For me, it was like studying comedy watching him interact with us because it was like watching a man who was so dry and not boorish but has seen it all. The way he spoke to us was kind of like to me comedy genius because nobody laughed but you could tell that he was kind of enjoying what he was saying. And we talked to Greg Davies [Mr. Gilbert], again Greg we didn't cast. We were friends and he had been a teacher for 14 years. And we said, "Look, we'd love to have you play this part of a teacher." And so with him we kind of chatted about the role and ended up making Gilbert what he was. He was definitely one of my favorite characters.
Jeffrey Harris: A majority of the movie takes place in Malia, where did you shoot the movie?
Iain Morris: We shot a little bit in Malia. A little bit in London. And quite of a lot of it in Magaluf which is a resort not dissimilar to Malia in Majorca.
Jeffrey Harris: My favorite scene in the movie where is when Jay comes clean to Simon about the tickets. The way they played that moment was great because it was after their fight and I thought they would maybe fight again, but it was very mature and I liked the notion of understanding in the group with the boys like Simon and Will moving on in their lives and Jay is staying behind.
Iain Morris: Thank you, that's exactly the point of that scene. I'm glad you like that because I really like that scene. I thought that James and Joe played it really, very nicely. We actually did a version where they have another fight there because we thought it'd be funny but actually it felt wrong in the context of film. And it was much nicer to go back to the original which was that. It was sort of a scene where they grow up. They go, "OK. Sometimes you have to just accept things and move on really." So I'm glad you liked that. We're quite proud of that scene. I think that and the G-O-D/D-O-G scene and the scene where Will strips with Alison. They're my favorite scenes I think.
Jeffrey Harris: Thank you very much for your time. It's been great speaking to you. I love the show and the movie. Great job with this movie and I'm looking forward to whatever comes next.
Iain Morris: Thank you so much. Thanks a lot.
The Inbetweeners is now playing in select theaters in the US. The series is broadcast on BBCA in the US but it is currently out of the programming rotation, but you can watch the show on demand at Hulu and Netflix.