His latest role is a far cry from those well documented successes. In ‘Trauma’ which hits the screen on September 17th he plays Ben who awakes from a coma to discover his wife has been killed in a car accident. The psychological thriller sees him play a character which is more of a throwback to the roles he used to play before he became famous.
“It was fantastic to find this script. I felt very much at home in this sort of film. This is where I belong.” Colin enthuses. The fact that the film was being directed by Marc Evans (My Little Eye) also endeared him to the project. “It’s not that often that someone whose work you respond to is also a mate and Marc and I had talked a lot in the intervening years about the kind of films that would interest us to do. We were even in the process of developing an idea together when this script came up. We are like minded people and I knew it would be sheer fun. I also knew he would do things that would make me look more interesting than I really am.”
Colin’s role was a challenging one. He is the central figure in the story and a lot of the film centres on Ben’s perceptions and actions. A lot of the scenes in the film are close ups of Colin and his acting excellence is put to the test. He comes out with flying colours.
Getting inside Ben’s head wasn’t easy for him “I didn’t have a very clear view of who he was. I had to figure that out along the way. It was a process of putting it together from pieces of myself and impressions of people who have been in situations like this. I was working very much from inside someone’s head whose story is comprised of a series of reactions. Ben is a well meaning guy. He is setting out to be sane, he doesn’t think he’s not! He wants to be a normal amusing sort of guy, however he is a fantasist. He’s failed to grow up basically. All the things that Ben is, a lonely soul living in a pigsty in a big city, would be becoming of a 19 year old student but it is just really worrying when he’s forty something. All the elements are in the right place he’s just lost his script because there is nobody there anymore.”
Trauma delves a little deeper into people’s fears other than just loneliness and grief it even combines phobias in terms of creep crawlies and stalkers. Ben has an ant farm in his apartment and is not averse to the odd spider which sends shivers down the spine of most normal people but Colin knows where his fears lie. “I’ll take the ants and the spiders over the stalkers!” he quips. “Stalkers are not something that make me comfortable although I have the usual healthy preference not to be covered in ants or spiders. I don’t know much about ants and their behaviour but I know that how ever uncomfortable it was for me, it was worse for them.” Colin actually struck up a relationship with the spider in the film. “We actually met again a year later and she had forgotten me. She was on another film ‘Nanny Mcphee’, which is a children’s film and is there for very different reasons, it was either her or her sister. Well they were in the same box anyway” he laughs.
Adding another dimension to a pretty complicated film the story also centres on the effects of today’s media on vulnerable people. “If you are a very lonely person, someone who has no intimacy in their life you are going to be vulnerable to today’s comprehensive media. There is the possibility of it being the only intimacy that you’re ever going to get. There is irony with the artist trying to bear their soul to the camera and some needy unstable people on the receiving end. It is a potentially dangerous business. On one hand you want to reach people and make that connection but if they have been destabilized by something in their own life it is as if you’ve promised them something that you can’t deliver! If you come into peoples living rooms with very personal stuff, then don’t be surprised if people in their living rooms take it personally.”
Even though it is a pretty heavy film that didn’t mean that the cast and crew didn’t have fun on set in fact Colin finds such films more fun than comedies. “Comedy is really depressing actually”, he says with his tongue in his cheek. “It causes a huge amount of anxiety. It’s gone into popular mythology how miserable or tortured comedians today so often are. I can’t explain it other than it is extremely difficult and getting it wrong is just horrendous. You very rarely miss by a little bit with comedy. You fall off the high wire and you’re left looking like an idiot whereas you’ve got a lot more play with drama. All your angst goes out into the work and you come home with a smile on your face.”
After ‘Trauma’ Colin’s next appearance on the big screen will be back in the comedy field in the highly anticipated ‘Bridget Jones – The Edge Of Reason’, which he also enjoyed making. “Doing the sequel was more fun than doing the first one. This time we knew each other and we had those relationships. It was great to see everyone again. At first I was sceptical about making it as while it wasn’t happening all of us were badgered endlessly about ‘when we were going to do it’ and as soon as we announced that we were going to do it we had ‘are you sure that’s wise?’ Then there is the concern that everyone will hate you if you just give them the same film again but they will also hate you if you don’t and so you really have got to tread the line about ‘can these characters get up and walk again meaningfully, entertainingly’ and I really wasn’t sure about that until I saw us do it and I think it will be great.”
Trauma hits the UK Screens on 17th September
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