Interview with Hugo Chegwin who plays Phil

Category: Press Pack Article

Phil is back, despite being shot at the end of the last series – was he ever really going to be killed?

No, we originally shot it as Phil being shot, getting up and walking off. But it felt better not to have that in so Channel 4 might go: okay, we need to do a second one. Anything to get a second series.


How has Phil been affected by almost dying?

He’s fuming. He's been stuck in a bedsit, no money, not living in Spain, not owning hotels or building water parks. He's basically had a shit time so it's hurt his ego a little bit. And no one's really mourning him. Poor Mr Pocket.


Does he have a plan for getting out to Spain?

Yeah. Although he and Sidney (Steve Stamp) don't like each other, they have a similar drive, which is greed. They want their money desperately and they will do anything to get it. But Phil’s more loyal to Mick (Tom Davis) – he shows his emotional side when Mick's in trouble.


Phil is also about respect, isn't he?

Yeah, he wants to be a gangster. Respect is very important and he literally never gets it. Even when he thinks he has it, he doesn't really – people play him. Towards the end of this series, he does grow into a gangster in some capacity, although not a very good one.


Does he genuinely think he's got what it takes to get one over on Pablo Escobar (actor name?)?

Unquestionably, yeah. He thinks he’s entitled to be Gangster Number One, and anyone that can't see that is insane. He feels like he’s meant to be anywhere where there's mass criminal activity.


Where does that chip on the shoulder come from?

He's got short man syndrome. He drove around Clive Cornell (Peter Ferdinando), so he’s had the tiniest taste of gangster life and loved it. I am a Phil, really. I just surround myself with extremely talented people. That's my hack.


Is it rewarding to make a comedy-drama like this?

Yeah, it's a learning curve. I try not to over complicate it and just be bang on my lines. In the moment, I have no idea what I'm doing. With People Just Do Nothing, they're so pathetic that it's easier. These guys are trying to be hard, but the bravado drops. With Grindah and everyone, it never drops. Even when they’re upset.


Did you get much downtime?

Yeah, I wasn't there for a lot of it but I got so bored that I just came to set anyway. There's only so many times you can go to the beach on your own before you feel a bit weird. But we had a few good nights out – at the end of every week, we’d go to the same restaurant and have tacos and drinks.


Phil has refined his look for Spain – what was the thinking behind that?

I wanted him to have a mullet because he's been in hiding, but when we got into make-up we thought it might be a bit mad and over the top. I stupidly said, What about a Scarface haircut? I looked like an out-of-work guy who was at his peak in in the indie era. It was horrible walking around like that, but it does look Scarface at times.


Phil handles some proper weaponry this year – how was that?

Scary – those guns are so loud. They gaffer tape stuff down on it so you can shoot the rounds. I didn't want to shoot it, but you're meant to squeeze the whole round out but the first time I just did it for about a second then gave it back to them. I thought I liked guns in a fun way. I’m not sure I do now.


What are the most enjoyable moments of filming?

The funnest stuff to do is when we are all together in a scene, although the emotional scenes when we're all together are really fun to do as well, because we all respect each other's craft. Getting compliments from your peers is always great, although Allan (Mustafa, playing Albert) is a nightmare sometimes. When Phil reveals he’s back in the house, he just kept pushing it, doing stuff with his head, hugging me and putting his finger in my mouth. When the camera's not on him, he’s up to all sorts.


Why are heist dramas so popular?

It’s a core part of our history, the Flying Squad and the heists. It’s crazy that people would burst into vaults with guns and rob things, but because it was before CCTV and DNA and all that, they could get away with it, but it would be much harder now. It’s probably all Bitcoin robberies now.


Could you could you get a comedy-drama out of algorithms?

Yeah, I reckon you could, all that Silk Road stuff. I geek out on hackers and 4Chan, I listen to podcasts on it. Maybe Phil and the gang will be in crypto in 30 years time…


What would you do with that amount of money?

If it was legit, I’d probably start a production company and make cool shows without the pressure of them having to be a success. Just making stuff that I enjoy, and funding young music talent. Plus have sick houses everywhere around the world.


How much fun was the soundtrack to pull together?

We have a shared Spotify playlist, but because Tom and the director James De Frond are a lot older than us, they have more of an understanding of that era of music. The era I grew up in, I might be able to say that people who listen to jungle music also graffiti and wear Air Max 95s, for example. But with that era, I missed it so I would probably get bits wrong.


Where would the third series be set?

Early 90s rave era, I reckon. I love 80s music, but I feel like I could understand 90s music more. As for the look, they’ll want me to shave. I’ll probably grow it long, maybe receding with a baseball cap and ponytail.