Interview: Holli Dempsey - Star Of New Dad's Army Film
2016 marks an exciting new year for new British films coming out in the UK.
Especially for the new Dad's Army film that is coming out 5th February 2016.
The film reveals an amazing ensemble of British actors starring Catherine Zeta Jones, Toby Jones, Bill Nighy, Michael Gambon, Mark Gatiss and many more who are playing the beloved characters of Warmington-On-Sea that we all remember from the original TV series.
Since the trailer came out in October 2014, the plot is set in 1944 with Capt. Mainwaring (Toby Jones) and his platoon on an important mission to undercover a German spy who was last located in Warmington-On-Sea trying to sabotage the Allied D-Day plans of the Liberation of France. With the assistance of the glamorous reporter Rose Winters (Catherine Zeta Jones), she helps the platoon to restore their morale and supports their investigation on uncovering the spy.
The trailer reveals the classic humour of the characters that we all can associate with, such as the iconic line "You stupid boy!" amongst many others. Apart from the old favourite characters, we will also get to meet new faces to the town's community like Private Pike's girlfriend Vera played by Holli Dempsey who plays an important role in the film.
Holli Dempsey is amongst one of many emerging British young talents who has featured in many TV shows like Doctor Who, Call The Midwife, You, Me And The Apocalypse, Derek (starring Ricky Gervais) and now featuring in her first major British film Dad's Army. Last week, Holli agreed to have a telephone interview with me to discuss her involvement with the new film and also talk about her rising acting career.
How did you get on board being part of the Dad's Army film?
It was a normal audition process, I got a call from my agent last year telling me that the director Oliver Parker (St Trinian's and Johnny English Reborn) is currently working on the new Dad's Army film and he is looking for someone to play Vera, Pike's girlfriend. So my agent asked me if I was interested and I immediately said yes. I did two auditions and for my second one Oliver clearly wanted me to play Vera.
Did you watch any of the original TV series and are you a big fan?
Yes now. I mean, but when I was very young I grew up watching it with my family but it really didn't appeal to me at the time. Watching the green and grey colouring of the show put me off when I was a girl. Now I adore it. My uncle bought me the complete box set for Christmas and I got round to watching some of the episodes. I didn't really have to do a lot of research by watching the episodes because my character Vera is quite new and plays a small role, but in a way the box set has helped me understand Dad's Army better.
Working alongside Blake Harrison (Private Pike), did you two get along well professionally and also personally for that matter?
Yes. In fact, before working on Dad's Army I previously meet and worked with Blake on the TV series of Big Bad World. He is a very lovely guy and for this film we used to go to set together every day. Having meet him before took a lot of pressure off my shoulders because there are situations where actors meet for the first time and they have to work intensely together in a short period of time.
Since you two were one of the youngest co-stars in this film, you must feel very excited to be working alongside an ensemble of great British talents. Throughout your experience, did you get along closely with any of the members of the cast?
Personally I didn't get a chance to really get to know them properly because throughout my involvement I had been travelling back and forth from Scarborough to London every day. During those two and half weeks, I had also been working on Derek with Ricky Gervais, which was exhausting. Fortunately Ricky Gervais likes to finish at 4pm everyday so I was able to travel up to Yorkshire to do Dad's Army. But in terms of the cast, we all worked as an ensemble group and I didn't really have time to idolise since everybody there were trying to make their living and have normal lives. I did get on well with Bill Nighy and also Catherine Zeta Jones kindly went out of her own way to arrange dinner for everyone, which was very sweet of her. So yes despite being very busy during that period of last year, I also had a lot of fun.
Are we going to get the chance to see the two last surviving cast members Frank Williams (The Vicar Timothy Farthing) and Ian Lavender (Private Pike) in the film? And were they very supportive towards Oliver Parker who is directing this film?
Yes we are indeed going to see them. It would have been impossible not to have them involved at all. Frank is still going to play the vicar and is the only one playing his old role. I had the pleasure of meeting him and he is a very sweet man and doing very well for his age. I sadly didn't have the chance to meet Ian Lavender, but he is playing the cameo character of Brigadier Pritchard and both of them have been very supportive to Oliver because they understood that this film is a celebration of the TV series and a one-off. I know that Ian has been supportive towards Blake since he is playing his old character and he told him to make Pike his own and not to worry about getting it spot-on to the original version, which took huge pressure off Blake.
Do you hope that the die-hard fans of the original Dad's Army will embrace this new film?
Hopefully yes. Because we have a strong collaboration between the old and the new cast in this film. Especially for the new cast because they are all very well-known and respected actors. Oliver's aim has always been to make this film a celebration of Dad's Army. I think he has done very well in terms of staying true to the originality like the humour and making it honest to the Dad's Army we remember. The script has been very crucial to this film and it has done a very good job. I believe the fans will understand the intentions of this film as a celebration and not a reboot. If this was a reboot of the TV series then that is something else completely different.
Through your busy schedule, do you get the chance to watch any TV shows in your free time and do you have a particular favourite TV show at the moment?
I am a huge fan of Luther. Idris Elba is just incredible and such an amazing actor. I have a lot of time for him. Gosh at the moment I really don't get a lot of time for myself in terms of watching television. I usually enjoy watching the classics like Only Fools And Horses and now Dad's Army. I watch them via the box sets and watch them with the family.
For my final question, are you doing any future projects in terms of television or film for 2016?
I am currently doing an E4 sci-fi TV series, which is due to be broadcast in March. The title at the moment is called Aliens, but the director has recently changed the title of it and I'm not sure what it is called now, which is a bit sad. For that I am again playing a small character in that series. In terms of other things, in February I'm going to watch the premiere of Dad's Army and I still need to find a dress and shoes to wear for it, which is now the next big challenge at the moment.
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