Interview extra

Tom Hollander, Rev.June 17, 2010

In The Loop and Pirates Of The Caribbean star Tom Hollander’s ‘revving’ up for a new role as an Anglican vicar in his new comedy.

You co-created Rev. with writer James Wood, so how did the comedy come about?
Talking to vicars basically and finding out their predicament, what their lives were like. It’s an urban comedy in essence, but then it became much broader and interesting as we met and talked to vicars all over the place.

Any interesting experiences?
We stayed with a couple and spent 24 hours with one vicar in Boston, Lincolnshire. I also met the wife of a vicar I was at university with who dispelled the conventional image of the wife wearing an Alice band and baking cakes because she was a high-powered barrister who out earned her husband by about six times! She dearly loved him, but was permanently irritated by the fact that the house was never her own.

Did you have any previous church knowledge?
James’ grandfather was a vicar and he was a chorister, as was I, so we both had quite a bit of experience, or rather we were familiar with the inside of a church without being particularly churchy ourselves.

How did you meet James?
We’d done this BBC show Freezing together and we also used to meet each other in pubs in the Nineties and talk about films we might one day try to make. So this was a fulfilment of something that had started a long time ago.

When you were writing was it difficult not to cross the line into offending viewers?
It was never our intention to make the church itself seem ridiculous in its missions. We were always discussing whether something was the wrong side of the line or not. I think it’s fundamentally very compassionate about the church and what vicars do.

Your character Adam Smallbone is a vicar, but he’s also a normal guy and we see both sides in Rev.
Yes, we try to mark the difference between when the dog collar goes on and when it comes off. One vicar we spoke to said he always took it off in restaurants because he found people lost their appetite. So Adam takes his off in episode one when he shouts at the scaffolders outside his church. It represents something, it’s a very powerful image.

Has the show changed your view on faith?
I find it more interesting to think about why you might have faith. Also, it doesn’t really matter about the supernatural, it’s more about people being nice to each other. I don’t think you have to believe in God to do all those fundamentally Christian things like being a good Samaritan and loving your brother as yourself.

Are you good at doing that?
Of course not!

By Mary Comerford

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