“People Need to Be Encouraged to Find Humour and Laugh” – An Interview with Flora Spencer Longhurst

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The Edge were able to sit down (virtually) with actor Flora Spencer Longhurst about her new comedy, Say Your Prayers. In the film, Spencer Longhurst portrays TI Hodge, one part of the detective team investigating a hired murder gone wrong. In this interview, we discuss Say Your Prayers, both on and off screen, as well as the need for comedy during these uncertain times.

What was it like filming on location in Yorkshire?

Oh my gosh, it was such a treat! I mean, can you get a more beautiful location? Yeah, that was a real highlight for me, and I think probably for all the cast actually. We lucked out with that location – or with the setting of the film! Every day, each location – utterly beautiful. And also the people! The local people were so warm and welcoming, and basically made our jobs very easy.

What for you was the best part to film?

I’d say probably the most fun or funny were most of my scenes with Anna – Anna Maxwell Martin – but also Matt, Matthew Steer. I would say any of the scenes we both do, that combination. Matt Steer is hilarious – too much, actually, too funny! Anything where he’s in the room was really fun to film. Possibly actually, the shoot out, quite near the end that was in this beautiful hall. It was a big hectic scene with lots of people, but also Matt was there just being his usual funny self. That was fun because it had it all.

Did you have a favourite on or off screen moment, be it funny or otherwise?

Various off set moments I’d say were linked to the Beast from the East! (2018 British Isles Cold Wave) We had it hard in terms of ‘I can’t quite believe we managed to continue filming’, because the weather seemed to be kind of against us. So there were some fairly funny moments about having to be digging people out of their cars to get them to set and all sorts of things like that. The snow made it pretty challenging but also there were some funny aspects with that. In terms of onset, I’d say that all my car stuff with Anna was just – anything with her, and in an enclosed small space like a car with Anna Maxwell Martin, it was just always a laugh, really funny. It was very hard to be serious and ready for action.

Anna Maxwell Martin’s character of DCI Brough was clearly quite troubled. Do you think that portion of her led to a downfall for the overall plot?

Ooh! It depends on whether you mean a downfall for the plot or for the outcome. She’s a really amazing detective, but with that er, questionable approach at times. And then I guess the role of my character was the sort of yin to Brough’s yang and sort of vaguely trying to… not keep her in check? That’s not her role, but to offer the other side. Do I think… (Brough led to downfall of the plot) No, actually, I think she might do it in a sort of unorthodox way but in terms of the results and the plot outcome I think she did a pretty bloody good job actually!

In terms of the other actors, is there anyone else that you would say is similar or dissimilar to the characters that they played?

Let me see… Well Harry Melling is just such a wonderful, brilliant, kind and funny man and I think there’s real sensitivity and sweetness that he portrays as Tim that I could recognise in him. Anna I would say no, let’s not go there! I think she did an amazing job of playing the ‘other’ character – I mean she’s really funny, just hilarious off screen so there is that; she’s very very quick-witted. Similarly Matt, Matthew Steer is very funny but I wouldn’t say he’s so much like his character. Tom? Hmm… I guess… no, no I can’t comment on that! He’s such a brilliant guy but I’m just thinking ‘Hmm, what’s his character like? Hang on a minute!’ No, I think we won’t be comparing him to Vic!

Being a British comedy full of dark wit and dry humour, this film is obviously very different to the Americanized, ‘laugh a minute’ sort of comedy. Do you have a preference between the two, or which one do you think translates better to an audience?

I think it’s quite subjective, isn’t it? They’re just different types of comedy, and people get off on different types of comedy. For me, I prefer the subtlety of dark comedy, or the sort of comedy/thriller thing that goes hand-in-hand in our film. I think basically, at the moment, with everything that’s going on and the current climate we just need comedy of all sorts, it’s all welcome, y’know? People just need to be encouraged to find humour and laugh, so I think there’s absolutely a place for both, and I think ours is fun, and a romp and it appeals to, well, to all ages I would say.

The film touches on quite a few different themes such as, power, control and family amongst a host of others. Which one do you think is the most important takeaway from the film, and is the most impactful on the story and audience?

Ooh, that’s interesting – I suppose I’ve never really thought of it in those terms. I guess for me, my instinct is to say family, the sibling relationship between the brothers is so intricate and complicated and the love there is so sweet – but also pretty confusing and complicated. Similarly with the father figure – so I guess I’d probably say family. And then again I guess my supporting contribution – there’s a bit of family stuff that creeps its way into my character. It’s a hard one, but I do think the sibling relationship between them, because that encapsulates that sibling relationship and also encapsulates power and control with them in that dynamic in that relationship that it hinges on.

What do you think is the best thing about this film that would entice an audience?

It’s fun! It’s a romp – oh gosh, are you going to make me say one thing? I can do it in five! There’s all the scenery – it’s really beautiful, just these gorgeous Yorkshire Moors which our incredible cinematographer has shot so beautifully, and then this incredible cast and spending an evening with these amazing characters and actors – but I think the fun of it is what I would say.

Say Your Prayers, directed by Harry Michell, is distributed in the UK via Central City Media, certificate 12. It is available on demand from 28th September and can be pre-ordered here.

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A philosophy student with a penchant for uncertain puns

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