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Thursday, 10 October, 2002, 09:02 GMT 10:02 UK
Spall appalled over Pet 'pay row'
Timothy Spall and the cast of Auf Wiedersehn Pet
Spall (centre) reunited with old friends in Pet

Auf Wiedersehen Pet star Timothy Spall says newspaper speculation that the show's cast members are at loggerheads over pay may jeopardise the chances of another series.

Last month the Daily Mail reported that Spall, who plays Barry Taylor in the comedy, had struck a deal to receive 250,000 for three weeks work on the next series.


Obviously they're clambering to do more but the logistics of it aren't that easy

Timothy Spall
The newspaper reported co-stars Kevin Whately, Tim Healy, Pat Roach and Chris Fairbank were furious because their deals involved several months filming for the same fee.

"It's just daft," says Spall, who points out that he has not even been approached with an offer since no scripts have been written for another series.

"It's preposterous because how can you negotiate a fee for a part that doesn't exist," he adds.

The BBC has also confirmed that no official negotiations have been entered into regarding a new series.

'Mischief'

Spall says he was delighted that the revived drama was such a success, but he fears that "rubbish" written by the newspapers may kill the prospect of another series "stone dead".

"Obviously they're clambering [sic] to do more but the logistics of it aren't that easy," he explains.

Pet cast members
Pet was a ratings hit for the BBC
"Let's hope, if fate allows it, it will happen. If there's too much mischief about it, it won't."

Spall, who has been promoting his latest film, All Or Nothing, in Hollywood, is one of Britain's best-known character actors.

He says he objects to the way in which the press creates a "myth" about the world of showbiz "as if it's some kind of bizarre kind of festival of earning too much money".

"All the punters are interested in is seeing the programme and whether it's good or not," he adds.

"When I was a kid and I saw an actor in the street and I'd seen him on the television, twice, I immediately assumed he was a millionaire - the guy probably got 200 for the job.

Fallen flat

"There's this whole tabloid tie-in - assuming that all actors are overpaid, egomaniacal camp idiots that don't deserve to be paid for what they do."

In All Or Nothing, Spall plays a south London minicab driver, Phil, whose love life has fallen flat.


Tom Cruise is a great film star in the true classical sense of the world

Timothy Spall
He and his partner, Penny, a supermarket checkout assistant, struggle with poverty and the sheer drudgery of their everyday lives.

It is a grim tale of hardship and tragedy born out of the reality of life on modern day council estates.

It is the latest in a string of films Spall has made with director, Mike Leigh.

The actor says they "understand" each other and that it is always a delight to work with Leigh because he "puts people at the centre of his pieces that no-one else does".

Tailor made

"He doesn't concentrate on the so-called glamorous or aspirational characters that we'd all like to be - he concentrates on the way people are - not how we want them to be," explains Spall.

Mike Leigh
Mike Leigh has worked several times with Spall
The role of Phil, a quiet, deep-thinking, disturbed man, appears to have been tailor made for Spall.

"I've always been interested in what makes people tick, underneath," he says.

"Is there such a thing as evil, is there a condition - is it something that a form of illness or is it a function of things that go wrong in life? All those things that are part of the human condition interest and excite me."

Spall's latest project is the 19th Century epic, The Last Samurai, which stars Tom Cruise.

The two actors previously worked together on Vanilla Sky in which Spall had a cameo role.

"I found him to be charming, very generous with his time and fun," he says of the Hollywood superstar.

"Tom, he is a great film star in the true classical sense of the word. There is a huge responsibility with that. He's above the title and the buck stops with him.

"If the movie doesn't do well he can be directly responsible."

Spall says Cruise was "very interested in other people's performances".

'Rubbish'

"Clever guy, like he is, it's no good having everyone else being rubbish around you."

The Last Samurai, which is currently being filmed in Japan, is set in the 1870s during the last days of the traditional samurai warriors.

Cruise plays an American soldier while Spall takes on the role of his English translator.

See also:

17 May 02 | Entertainment
19 Sep 02 | Entertainment
28 Apr 02 | Entertainment
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