Interview: Ashley Thomas – Cockneys vs. Zombies
Directed by Matthias Hoene, Cockneys vs. Zombies is the story of a group of inner city youths trying to save their granddad’s nursing home by robbing a bank, only to discover Zombies have over run the East End. Recording artist and actor Ashley ‘Bashy’ Thomas stars as the villain of the film ‘Mental Mickey’. Film3Sixty caught up with him to discuss his role and his career.
Ashley Thomas: Cockneys vs. Zombies is a proper genre mash-up; just throwing them together into a melting pot. I think that the title says what it all about. It is about a bunch of cockneys in East London trying to save a nursing home and a load of zombies take over the city. It is a massive shoot ‘em up with loads of jokes.
What attracted you to the project?
AT: To me, it was the fact that I could play an absolute nutter and not take myself so seriously for once. Play something fun. It’s not all the time that you get to go so loose and wild with a role.
You are once again playing the villain as ‘Mental Mickey,’ what is it that attracts you to playing the bad guy?
AT: You get to be bad and have fun with it. So that it is why I liked getting to work on Cockneys, it was the first time that I got to work with some big special effects. It was cool.
Are you a big horror fan?
AT: Horror films just don’t seem to scare me anymore. I used to be shit scared and I don’t know what it is that happened- maybe it is just that I have gotten older. But like, I used to be really scared of IT, proper messed me up. I was really scared of the Freddy Kruger films and The Fly. These days I would rather watch a film like Cockneys vs. Zombies that is funny.
You got to work with an interesting cast, how was that?
AT: Yeah, I got to work with Alan Ford a bit, Michelle Ryan who I have worked with before (I was in a scene with her in 4,3,2,1.) Rasmus Hardiker and Harry Treadaway were really funny and so was Jack Doolan, really hilarious guy.
You have done gang dramas, horrors and action is there anything that you haven’t done that you would like to do?
AT: No, I just want to do as much as I can with as much variation as I can. I want to do different roles, different genres, and different time periods. Just as long as it is different – I don’t want to be type cast. I don’t want to be doing the same role again and again
Looking at your life you are known as both a musician and an actor, at school you trained as an actor but have made a name for yourself also as a musician. How do you balance that?
AT: I manage it; my social life is rubbish though. If I have a lot on I think you just have to sleep a bit less, but that is cool. I am still young as well; I think that when you are under forty, and I don’t have kids, it is easier to manoeuvre. At the moment I am fine with that.
Which do you prefer doing, the acting or the music?
AT: I love them both, because they each offer something different. One offers the opportunity to be myself and connect with an audience on a personal level that I can see right away. The other offers the opportunity to be someone else, a different way of living.
But you have crossed the two disciplines as you did with Adulthood where you were responsible for the soundtrack.
AT: That sometimes happens dependent on the film I am working on. That works for me and I am quite happy to straddle both careers. Before I was a little worried and I thought that people might not take me seriously or not really understand. It is easier if you are just one thing and people can accept that and are like, “wicked – that’s who you are”. If you want to do other things it’s harder. I am blessed in being able to do both for different fans. It has worked out for me so far.
It hasn’t always been a world of acting and music for you; I was reading up on your life and discovered that you worked as a bus driver for a while. Is that right?
AT: It hasn’t always been rosy, things never used to be just entertainment based. It was just a normal life; I don’t think it is a great story. A lot of people get up every day and do normal everyday jobs. I was a bus driver and a postman, but loads of people do that. What is great for me is that I can take those experiences to the acting because I have lived a normal life.
You have been involved a lot recently with both acting and the music scene in London, but have you ever been tempted to go across to the US?
AT: I just believe in going to try and reach for the best and America is where they make the biggest movies. So that’s the plan. I am never going to leave here completely; I would always want to work here, whatever happens. This is the spot; everyone wants to come here: Americans, Australians, everyone from around the world. I would never drop it out of my arsenal. Never leave it. My family and friends are here and I love it. Well, I don’t love the weather so much.
What do you want audiences to take away from Cockneys vs. Zombies?
AT: With Cockneys Vs Zombies I just want people to have fun. There are some really good jokes and a great ensemble of young up and coming actors and a great older cast.
Words: Joe Walsh
Cockneys vs. Zombies will play at Film4 Frightfest before hitting UK cinemas 31 August.