British comedic actors Julian Barratt and Simon Farnaby know a thing or two about TV comedy gold, having worked together on surreal comedy series The Mighty Boosh.
With their latest outing Mindhorn, the writing duo this time utilised their skills for a film script centring on washed-up actor Richard Thorncroft, who once found fame playing small-screen detective Bruce P Mindhorn but never quite made it to the big-time.
Luckily for Richard, he gets another shot at the spotlight, when he – or, more accurately, the character he played, Mindhorn – inadvertently becomes involved in an actual murder investigation on the Isle of Man. Quite the concept, eh?
As it turns out, Mindhorn was so "high concept" that it took the twosome almost 10 years to get it off the ground. Farnaby and Barratt tells IBTimes UK...
"We wanted to do something like a TV show, like Bergerac or The Six Million Dollar Man. The sorts of shows that we grew up on," Barratt stated. "Then the idea of having a phone call to the police saying: 'I want to speak to these fictional heroes,' it made us realise that they'd have to get the actor, and he would want the job and he'd want to utilise that to get his career back on track... we thought, this is a whole film.
"But we wrote it, and we wrote it again and again... we tried to pitch it and we're really bad at pitching, so it took us quite a while to get it made. It's quite high-concept."
"For a British comedy film, it's quite expensive in a way 'cause we have chases and stunts... and then, there's your fee," Farnaby jokingly interjected, shooting a look at his co-writer and co-star.
While it might have been a challenge to originally get the film funded – it was eventually produced by Steve Coogan and Ridley Scott, and features cameos by Kenneth Branagh and Simon Callow –what wasn't so tricky was deciding who would play the lead character.
In the film, Barratt won the role of Richard Thorncroft as eyepatched detective Mindhorn, while Farnaby portrays his former stuntman Clive. "I can act with one eye, so it was always gonna be me [playing Thorncroft]," Barratt confessed. "I've been told that when I act with two eyes, it's too much for some people. It's too emotional, so I take one off just to knock back the power of my acting."
Farnaby adds: "Do you remember when you forgot to put your [eyepatch] on and you broke a camera 'cause you were so powerful?" Well... it wouldn't be an interview with two comedians without a bit of hilarity now, would it?
Also starring Steve Coogan, Essie Davis, Andrea Riseborough and Russell Tovey, Mindhorn is released in UK cinemas on 5 May.