British actor Noel Clarke may not be a name that most of you are familiar with, but odds are that you have seen one of the films or television series that he’s been in. Fans of the BBC cult series Doctor Who will definitely know Noel from his role of Mickey Smith in that series. Noel also appeared in the wacky British zombie film, Doghouse about a village of female zombies that are after all the males. He also appeared in Neil Marshall’s (Dog Soldiers, The Descent) action/thriller, Centurion about the Roman army.
Noel most recently wrote, produced, and starred in the sci-fi/horror film, Storage 24 (review coming soon) about an alien creature who escapes from a military transport and terrorizes a group of people locked inside a storage facility. I recently had the great opportunity to talk with Noel about Storage 24, Doctor Who, and much more. Read on for the full interview.
Horror Society: What first got you into the film business to begin with?
Noel Clarke: It’s something I’ve always wanted to do since I was a kid, become an actor. I ended up going to college and studying because my parents wanted me to get a good job and then while I was there and felt a calling. I left college and told myself I’d give it a year and see what happens and then within that year I got a job and I’ve never stopped. Every time I get an opportunity, I’ve learned very quickly to prolong your career, you can’t just act, you have to write as well and create, so I just started doing all that as well. Then fast forward and now I’m speaking to you.
HS: Very interesting. Storage 24 is your current project and it comes out on home video on Tuesday, March 12th. You’re also one of the writers and producer of the film. Where did the idea come from for the claustrophobic creature feature that’s Storage 24?
NC: The idea came from me basically going to a storage facility one day with my wife. I was there and she was packing boxes and I was walking around and thinking about how creepy it was and how all the corridors were the same. I remember going back to find her and she wasn’t in the corridor, then I went to the next one and she was there, they were all the same. I thought, imagine if there was a serial killer in there, so that was originally what it was and then I decided to change it to an alien because I’m more excited by that sort of thing and I thought a serial killer would be boring and I’m a sci-fi fan. That’s how it came about.
HS: Cool. So you are a fan of horror and sci-fi films?
NC: Yeah, I’m sure your horror fans will hate me; I’m more a sci-fi fan than a horror fan. The director is a big horror fan; he brought most of the horror elements to the movie. Yeah, 100 percent I do love a good sci-fi and I’ve always been a fan of Star Wars, Star Trek, and Buck Rogers.
HS: When you were one of the writers for Storage 24, did you plan on playing the role of “Charlie” in the movie, how did that come about?
NC: Yeah, I was always supposed to play a role. The idea originally was I would direct the film as well, but then I decided I didn’t want to because I felt Johannes (Roberts) was more qualified to direct the movie than myself so I stepped back. He changed the character to the really wimpy guy that we see today.
HS: I thought you did a great job in the movie, I enjoyed it. For you, what was the biggest challenge of taking part in the making of Storage 24?
NC: Two things really. First, playing the part of Charlie because in the beginning, he goes against everything that I am; He’s kind of wimpy, scared of stuff and moans a lot. I try to not do that. Secondly, getting it right with the creature and the visual effects and the prosthetic creature effects. You put the guy in the suit in broad daylight and it looks absolutely dreadful. There were moments when he would walk past us in the sun as we were prepping a scene and we thought it was the worst thing we’ve ever seen, but the moment you went inside and turned the lights off, suddenly it looked good. That was definitely a challenge being concerned about how that was going to look.
HS: Personally I’m a big fan of monster movies; I love a good creature feature monster movie, which is why I enjoyed the creature in Storage 24. I thought it was a pretty cool creature.
NC: Thank you; they did a great job on that.
HS: You also seemed to be a man of many hats, you’re an actor/writer/producer/director, is there anything you haven’t tackled in the film business that you would like to do?
NC: No, I think I’m doing quite enough (laughing). I think the thing about it is all of this has come about by accident. All I ever wanted to do is be an actor, but I learned pretty quickly that I would be homeless if I just did that on its own, so I started writing and a movie got made, and then after one movie got made, the director of that movie didn’t want to direct the second one and so there was going to be no movie. They asked me if I wanted to direct it, so I did and I became a director.
I then looked at how much more the producers were making and how they owned the rights to the stuff I was creating and that didn’t sit well with me so I started producing as well. Everything kind of happened by accident and by necessity as opposed to me wanting to do it. I’m not a megalomaniac control freak or anything, it all kind of happened by me taking more control. I wouldn’t want to do anything else, I could maybe do the catering, that would be funny (laughing). No, no, there’s nothing else.
HS: Which of those various jobs is your favorite?
NC: Acting is my first love 100 percent, but I think directing is probably my favorite. I love writing as well, but it can be soul destroying when you write 10 things and only one gets picked up. Arguably, it might not be the best one that gets picked up, but the timing might be right or the right actor responded to it, it’s a weird business.
HS: You’ve also starred as Mickey Smith in the Doctor Who TV series. For you, what was the best part about being in that cult show?
NC: Everything really, I mean Doctor Who. I’ve been really lucky to appear in things I used to watch when I was young. It’s unfathomable to me how it’s happened. The whole thing about being in Doctor Who and watching the show come back. If anything it’s like I was there from the beginning when it started again when a lot of people weren’t sure it was going to work. We were the real ones who had faith in the show. We were the real ones who put everything on the line and do this show and try and make it successful. Now it’s easy for an actor to say yes to the show, no actor is going to say no to Doctor Who now because they know the exposure it gives them. When we did it, it took guts. That I feel was the best thing.
NC: Great, we had a great time. It was the first horror I’d done, I did The Heartless after that with Jim Sturgess and Philip Ridley directing. Doghouse was a lot of fun, they wanted to do this female zombie movie, I had never done anything like that before so it was something I really wanted to try and do. It was also a chance to mess around with comedy a little bit; I end up in a dress in the film, which is quite funny. I really enjoyed doing that film, thanks.
HS: That was a great comedic movie and I thought you were good in it. You’ve also worked with a director known to horror fans very well…Neil Marshall in Centurion. That was a great movie.
NC: Yeah, Neil saw Adulthood and liked what I had done in that. In Centurion with Fassbender as the lead, he asked me if I wanted to do it. I was like yeah dude, how can I say no to Neil Marshall. It was a chance to really break some stereotypes because I don’t think people knew or believed there were actually black Roman soldiers. Rome conquered a lot of places including Northern Africa. The deal with the Roman army was either you were a slave or you joined them. I thought it was really interesting to play that part because people didn’t always know about that so I was very grateful to take it.
HS: That is very cool to know. You have a couple of major projects coming up. What are you able to talk about?
NC: We have Saving Santa at Christmas with Morgan Freeman; it’s a big animation movie. I was really happy to do voice over work on that and I look forward to it. It was a great experience; I’ve always wanted to do that. I have children so I’m glad to do something they can watch. I have this Special Forces movie called I Am Soldier. Star Trek Into Darkness is coming in about five weeks. I’m just a small cog in a very big wheel, I’m just grateful to Paramount and JJ (Abrams) for putting me in the movie.
HS: Well, I guess I lied; I do have one last question for you. With you role in Star Trek Into Darkness, you’ve been in two major franchises along with Doctor Who, how does it feel to be a part of two huge cult franchises like that?
NC: It feels amazing; I mean I used to watch them both when I was a kid. It feels really, really good to be a part of them. I’m just a small part in both things, it’s not like I’m the lead roles in anything but to be part of them is amazing. There’s only one thing I used to watch more than those two shows so maybe that will happen too, who knows.
HS: And what would that be?
NC: Star Wars (laughing)! I was a big fan of that.
HS: Who knows, they’re casting now for the next films and Hollywood is a strange place.
NC: It’s a very strange place.
HS: Noel, I wanted to thank you for your time and I wish you the best of luck, I’ve enjoyed your films and hope to see you in much more.
NC: Thank you Michael very much, you’re very kind. Take Care.
Watch Noel Clarke in the Storage 24 red band trailer here,[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g5s1C5FU8v4&w=600&h=338]