|BILLY THE KID AND THE GREEN BAIZE VAMPIRE||
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MS London 1986
With four major parts in films this Summer, no young actor is busier than 26-year-old Bruce Payne. We've already seen him as Flikker, the blond fascist thug, in Absolute Beginners and as T.D., the sinister manager in Billy the Kid and The Green Baize Vampire. Come October he will appear in the BBC production, Smart Money, a thriller in which he plays a top security scrutineer. Solar Babies, a Mel Brooks film in which Bruce and Alexei Sayle are futuristic bounty hunters in the Mad Max mould, is likewise slotted for an Autumn release. A determined character who endured months in hospital when spina bifida was diagnosed when he was 15, he learned about the film industry by gatecrashing Shepperton Studios on the principle that there are always so many people hanging round a set that one more won't be noticed. His official film career began with small roles in Privates on Parade, The Keep and Oxford Blues and, at the same time, he established himself in London's fringe theater.
Taken from Microfiche hence the fuzzy image.
Bright prospects 1985
It is good to welcome an authentic new British musical, BILLY THE KID AND THE GREEN BAIZE VAMPIRE (15 certificate, 93 minutes) after the disappointment provided by Absolute Beginners.As the title may suggest this is a larkier piece and it is achieved more successfully on a much smaller budget, again largely filmed in studios, but atmospherically directed by Alan Clarke who proved himself a master of confined spaces with Scum.
There are a few nods to cowboy and Dracula movies amusingly wrapped into a present-day fantasy set in the world of snooker contest. Trevor Preston's script and lyrics and George Fenton's original music are pleasing. The main parts are well taken by Phil Daniels as a cocky Cockney challenger and Alan Armstrong as a flamboyant Northern champ but it is a newish actor, chillingly seen as a thug in Absolute Beginners, who more or less steals the show here. Bruce Payne is a charismatic presence, with a capable voice, who is perfectly cast as The One, Billy's manager, and it is a performance which ranks with those handful of evil genius' - but basically likeable - impresario parts seen in classic Hollywood "showbiz" dramas and most recently essayed so effectively by Adam Faith in Stardust. Here is a new British star (not sure about the last word, wasn't clear in the text) in the making, and with a role in the next Mel Brooks' comediy, soon to be seen, it seemed a good moment to discuss his career so far.
"At the time I was growing up it seemed to be a rarity for people to enjoy their work, and actors, and film-makers seemed to do that. Films and theatre always interested me, but in theatre one of the advantages is you edit your own performance, and there is far more of an ensemble feeling. "I used to go down to different film studios and basically bluff my way in.If you can look quite confident on a film set you can usually lose yourself and I used to take a little black book and anything I heard of real value I'd write down. "When I was 15 I did a lot of auditions for fringe companies but they said I was too young and should go to drama school, Drama school would say I was too young and should go away and get some experience! "So I did loads of different kinds of jobs and when I was 19 I went to RADA which I enjoyed very much. I first did a season at Nottingham and achieved my Equity there, with mainly classical pieces; directly after that I did my first film which was Privates on Parade, playing the part Ben Cross had taken in the stage version. "I took to it like a duck to water! John Cleese and Dennis Quilley were very encouraging to me. I sang and was to do a pastiche of the Andrews Sisters! Overexposure to a suntanning lamp, though, spoiled that chance." He then went back to theatre and began to research extensively his parts, working with Mike Newell in television and subsequently doing Birth of a Nation and The Bill. "I did a tiny, tiny part - probably edited out - in Michael Mann's film of The Keep, went back to TV for some 'physical' roles and a lot of things came to a head when I did Steve Berkoff's West at the Donmar Warehouse. I then had a total contrast playing the Captain of Boats in the film Oxford Blues.
"My part in Billy the Kid is terrific and I think it came off best in the musical sections, particularly the song "White Lines" at the end which is very different from the number I have earlier, 'Green Stamps'. You see the character Move which is what musicals should really be about. "George Fenton and Trevor Preston are real Brecht-freaks and deliberately gave the songs a cutting edge and clipped style. I play a man who - I feel - exploits himself more than he does anyone else. To earn money to pay off his debts he takes a kid he discovered off the streets and brings him to the focus of world snooker." Whether or not Bruce Payne has his own clever agent, bringing this immensely personable young actor to wide attention, he certainly has the talent and ability to merit the exposure, and, I am sure, the capacity to survive it all.