Paul King talks 'The Bunny And The Bull'

The Mighty Boosh director goes widescreen
The Bunny And The Bull and Mighty Boosh director Paul King
The Mighty Boosh director Paul King found inspiration in crap road trips and obsessive gambling for his new movie The Bunny And The Bull.

“A lot of people go travelling when they’re seventeen and it’s their first bit of freedom. I went when I was about thirty,” begins director Paul King as a loose introduction to his new film The Bunny And The Bull. “I had these grand visions that I’d see beautiful things and eat beautiful food. But it was actually just a bit shit. I headed to Poland and thought it would be gritty and brutal but beautiful, and it was just like Croydon.”

The road movie blueprint is a voyage of self-discovery, golden beaches, stunning sunsets and the deep blue sea. King didn’t want his road movie to be, in his words, the, “hey, look at the Pacific Ocean maaaan” cliché and more, “Why are we in a car park where there’s a man pissing in the corner? Why am I carrying toilet paper with me?” This enthusiastic cynic offers a neat appraisal of his whole experience: “I like to think that one of the great luxuries in life is being able to go somewhere that keeps a toilet roll ready for you.”

As the director of surreal comedy favourite The Mighty Boosh, King certainly had the natural cocktail of surreal humour and the darker disposition needed to craft a nightmarish road trip. “The film’s landscapes are all made of different objects which is weird, and I think it comes from a slightly darker place than the Boosh as it’s got this strange central character who’s going through some kind of emotional distress. But I hope that people who like the Boosh will like it.”

“That said it’s not the Mighty Boosh movie.” King mentally flicks through the film’s cast - Boosh utility man Simon Farnaby stars as The Bunny, with Julian Barratt, Noel Fielding and Richard Ayoade all contributing cameo appearances. “I’ve basically cast it off my speed-dial,” he laughs.

That leaves Edward Hogg, impressive in the recent White Lightnin’ as central character Stephen. “I’ve got a little bit of OCD,” chuckles King in a lame attempt to cast aside comparisons between him and his oddball creation. “When I was trying to write the script I spent about a week without going out at all and you just live like a tramp. The design of the flat is not a million miles away from mine and he’s got my haircut. But I like to think I’m somewhere between the two.”

And if King is like the slightly unhinged Stephen, Farnaby is very much the happy-go-lucky, compulsive gambler that is Bunny. Gambling, you could argue, is in his genes. The famous tale, as King tells it, goes something like this:
“Simon’s a complete compulsive gambler. I phone him a few times a week and literally every single time you hear horseracing in the background. He comes from a real family of gamblers. His granddad was a massive gambler, and on his death bed he said to Simon’s dad, “Come here son there’s something I want to tell you… There’s a horse running in the ten past three at Darlington.” Somehow he found a tenner, so Simon’s dad placed the bet for him. While he was at the bookies, his granddad died and the horse came in last. After he died they discovered in the back of his wardrobe a secret tunnel leading to the pub next door. He wasn’t allowed to drink and had literally burrowed through the wall.”

Other weird tales permeate the making of the film. There’s the story of King’s midwinter visit to see the film’s composers The Ralfe Band only to find that the piano they were using had spent a fortnight in the snow and the rain in search of “a more authentic sound”. Or there’s the time King and Farnaby inadvertently offended the proprietor of a dubious children’s “fun land” hosted in a garage in the Isle of Sheppey. With a broken bottle in hand and an exposed beer belly, he chased the duo down the beach.

Yet King and Farnaby lived to see another day. They welded small parts of all these fabulously unhinged fairytales into a film quite like any other that you’ll see this year.

Optimum release The Bunny And The Bull on November 27th.

Words by Ben Hopkins

Read ClashMusic's review of 'The Bunny And The Bull' HERE.

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