The wildly inventive Bunny and the Bull could only be the product of Paul King’s imagination, director of cult classics The Mighty Boosh and Garth Meringhi’s Dark Place. However his first feature is quite a different journey through time and space taken inside the mind of a meticulously organised agoraphobic called Stephen.
Comparisons to The Mighty Boosh are perhaps inevitable but Bunny and the Bull is very different. While it has some great humourous moments, it’s quite psychological, tragic even. Would you agree?
It’s definitely a very different tone and world to the Boosh. It’s not as surreal, nothing odd happens really. Obviously it looks quite strange because it’s set inside a man’s head, but the Boosh is much more playfully surreal and Bunny and the Bull is about tackling some fairly serious mental problems. I kind of like that it goes to some funny places but has a serious soul to it.
It’s an interesting story. Was there any particular inspiration behind it? I hear a nasty incident you had with a lobster as a child may be the inspiration behind Captain Crab’s restaurant.
I did have a nasty incident! I don’t like seafood and my dislike of it does run through the film. I raided so much of my own life for material. A lot of Simon’s character is actually based on his Grandad. He was a bit of a family rogue, a drinker and gambler. He wasn’t allowed to drink at all at the end of his life because he was so ill but he always got pissed and nobody quite knew how. When he died they cleaned out his room and found he had built a secret tunnel in the back of his wardrobe that went through to the pub next door. Every day after lunch he’d sneak through. He was always losing strange bets too. He once bet the family’s entire fortune on the weight of a brick and lost. The slightly nerdy holiday stuff came from me and my family. We took guide-book orientated holidays around Europe. I loved the strange museums we visited.
Like the German Museum of Cutlery and the National Shoe Museum of Poland?
Yeah! Germany has a lot of boring museums. It has two different asparagus museums. One is simply not enough, they have to have two! The Cookbook Museum is worth a visit. What’s amazing is that you can’t even read the cookbooks because they’re all in glass cases. The X-ray Museum is a good one too.
There are a lot of familiar faces in the film. What was it like to re-unite the cast of the Mighty Boosh on this?
They were there at different times but it was really nice. Richard who I worked with on Garth Meringhi was there on the first day…
He’s probably the dullest tour guide of all time!
Yeah it’s funny because I hadn’t asked him to be in it but I showed him the script and he said ‘I see you’ve written me a part’. I never even had to ask, he just volunteered himself! I was slightly hoping he would do it. Noel [Fielding] and Julian [Barrett] came up and it was pretty nerve-racking for me to show them my jokes and ideas. I really wanted them to find it funny but they really did it for the love. They’re so great and supportive. It’s something I really admire about them. It was a bit of a love-in. We all slept in the same bed, like The Beatles!
Were there any memorable moments on set? I hear Edward had some trouble with one scene, embracing a very naked Bunny.
The funniest thing happened with Ed, He’s so shy. We based a lot of his character on him. There was one scene that we eventually cut because there was too much nudity as it was. He had to be totally naked. It was like a little fantasy of him getting together with Eloise. He was trying to preserve his dignity. He didn’t want his penis too close to his co-star’s face, which is fair enough. So he parcel taped a sock to himself! She was just falling around laughing. She was like ‘Oh my God, what is that thing? You look like you have a disease’. That was quite funny, poor old Ed, and yeah he had to give Simon a naked cuddle, poor guy!
Bunny and the Bull is on general release now.
Words: Aoife O’Regan