White collar hooligan blues

Nick Nevern on a new film about an old problem.

by Jennie Kermode

Gangster movies are familiar cinematic fare, but The Rise And Fall Of A White Collar Hooligan is does something different. Its mission is to explore a new kind of crime, apparently victimless, and show how gang involvement can make anything ugly. Nick Nevern plays the football hooligan who gets out of his depth in the world of credit card fraud. He spoke to us about how it all began.

"I didn't have an audition for the part," he says cheerfully. "I was working on this other film, Strippers Versus Werewolves, with Simon Phillips, and I only had a small part in that but we really hit it off. Then I was on holiday in Crete and he called me up and said he had me in mind for the lead in this film. I said 'When does it start shooting?' and he said 'Next week.' I though I wouldn't be able to do it because I was on holiday for two weeks but they wanted me so much they actually delayed shooting until I got back. It meant I got to read the script while lying on a nice sandy beach. I wish every script reading could be like that!"

As this was his first offer of a leading role, it's easy to see why Nick leapt at the chance, but his enthusiasm for the film clearly goes beyond that. I asked what attracted him to the script once he received it.

"Basically I'd never seen anything like that before," he says. "I'd seen films about football violence but I liked the twist about credit card fraud. My mum was actually a victim of that so I knew a bit about it. And I liked that it wasn't about drugs. Every time it's about drugs. This was different."

Nick's role is based on a real person. Although this man was not around during filming, it so happened that they'd met previously on the set of another film. "It's kind of ironic now," Nick says. "Of course, I had no idea at the time that I'd end up playing him. He seemed like a nice guy. A big guy, you know. So I based it on him but I added a bit of myself as well. I wanted people to see that he was just a normal bloke, one hundred percent."

That sense of an ordinary man out of his depth was particularly important when it came to keeping viewers on side.

"A lot of reviewers have said they felt sympathy for him," says Nick, pleased. "I'd been trying to make sure he was sympathetic because I think that's the key factor. He starts doing some pretty horrible stuff and it's important that the audience can still be with him and support him, so I tried to make him likeable. I wanted to show that he's a nice guy but he can fight when he has to."

He's also a guy who finds himself living a seductively glamorous lifestyle. Is that realistic?

Nick laughs. "Well, it's what the guy told me, yeah, so I think so. He said it's true, that line that he didn't know £1,000 a night could be spent so quickly!"

The actor has quite a few projects lined up over the next few months, including a role in the big screen version of The Sweeney and the lead in The Hooligan Wars. "That sounds like another hooligan film," he admits, "but it's actually about the London riots. I'm not playing a hooligan, just a normal guy who gets caught up in stuff. In the future, he says, he'd love to do a prison movie, a serial killer movie - and romantic comedy, because he wants to show his range as an actor. He also directs and is hoping to take the helm at a new production very soon.

"All the other films I've done since this, I'm the lead," he says, acknowledging that his performance in White Collar Hooligan was something of a breakthrough. "Just now I'm really looking forward to seeing Riot because I think that's the best I've ever acted in my life. I feel like it's my strongest performance and I'm really excited to see it. Acting's what I love, it's my passion, so I hope that translates and comes across on the screen."

It certainly does. If you'd like to see what the future brings for Nick, you can follow him on Twitter at @nicknevern

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