Mackenzie Crook

At the present time Mackenzie Crook is filming the Disney film "Pirates Of Penzance" in LA with Johnny Depp. It's just about as far removed from his character Gareth Keenan in the Office, whose ideal holiday destination would probably be Skegness on the basis "It's the last place the terrorists would bomb" and "you wouldn't have to put up with any of that foreign muck". We got on the blower to tell Mackenzie about the Office landing a top 3 place in the Best TV Comedy Show category alongside Bo Selecta and Coupling...and we also got the goss on that rumoured 3rd Series of the Office straight from the horses mouth.

Q: At the moment your currently filming "Pirates Of The Caribbean in LA with Johnny Depp. In your wildest dreams could you have ever imagined last year that this is how you would be spending Xmas?
A: No, I guess not. Its kind of what I've been working on for a while cos' I've wanted to get into films for ages. But I guess I never thought I'd be sat here looking out my window looking over Los Angeles. Before I came out here I did a little part in a film in England called "Neverland" and that was with Johnny Depp and Kate Winslett and I think it's just coincidental that we ended up working together on this one as well, which is cool.

Q: So what's the film about then?
A: "Pirates Of The Caribbean" is the big Disney swashbuckling adventure for next summer. I didn't know about it before hand but apparently there's a big ride "Pirates of The Caribbean" at's one of the oldest rides there and it hasn't got a ride so basically they're making the film to go with the ride.

When I took on the role I didn't know there was dancing involved so that's all new to me. It's just some silly pirates comical dance on the decks sort of thing because if it was dancing for the whole film I'd have to be at dance practise every single day.

Q: Acting and movies are your great passion and ultimately you invented your very first character Charlie Cheese to springboard into the movies. When you were doing stand up around the country as that character did you really belief that it would work out the way you planned?
A: I honestly did and without wishing to sound arrogant that was always the plan. I got into stand-up to get my equity card because I couldn't be arsed to go to drama school. But it has taken a while because I started doing stand-up about 10 years ago doing Charlie Cheese so I've only been going up a step at a time.

I do love doing stand-up and I would go back to it, but I don't think I will go back to Charlie Cheese because I've thrown his spangly suit away...although I've kept his wig and glasses just in case. Stand-up is so immediate and completely different from doing film or TV because with a film you don't get to see the results of your work for months afterwards. With stand-up you know there and then whether people like it or not - even the best stand-ups have been booed offstage at some point!!!

Q: You went back to your roots this year when you actually judged the stand up entries to the BBC New Comedy Award. How was that?
A: I did it at the Edinburgh festival and I love doing stand-up and I love watching stand-up and new acts are the most fascinating to watch. I know about stand up now and it's one of the few areas where...yer know, i'm sounding really big headed...but I did it for so long that even if I wasn't the best stand up I can see and recognize what makes a good stand up comic -  I've been to so many new acts nights that I can tell what's going to be good or not. At the same time it wasn't that long ago that I was standing in the auditorium handing out flyers for 6 people to come along to my shows.

Q: Going back to the beginning of the Office when you were given the role of Gareth. You knew from that moment it was going to be popular?
A: I did, yeah. It was just simply because it was so funny and I don't know if you've read the scripts since they've been published, but if you read the scripts it works well just reading it through as a book and laughing through it. It was just that - I read the scripts through and thought this was f**king great!!!

I kind of knew Ricky Gervais as well just to say hello to...but I knew his work well enough to know it was someone I wanted to work with. I was well aware it was going to be big.

Q: You've said before that there are some disturbing similarities between yourself and Gareth personality wise. What's the most disturbing similarity and in which ways are you totally different from Gareth?
A: People ask me that question so many times that sometimes I say "No, I'm nothing like him" and other times I will say "I am quite like him" - it depends in what mood I'm in.

Gareth's fascinated with survival techniques and I think I kind of am. But I think that's more of a bloke thing than a wanky bloke thing. There was a prop on the table in the 1st Series on my desk, Lofty Wisemans "SAS Handbook", and that was mine and it wasn't Gareths. I know about some of the same sort of things Gareth knows about but not army and war survival.

I think I'm very laid back and it's one of the things my wife hates about me - I'm just pretty lazy and chilled. Gareth is kind of the opposite to that in that he can never chill out.

Q: Since you started the show what reaction have you got in the streets?
A: Just always good. I've had people shouting out "Oi Gareth - where your stapler" just as anyone on TV gets their lines shouted out at them. But it's only ever been nice things with people saying they've enjoyed the show and I even got recognized in Hollywood last week. It was really weird when I came over here though because when I was on the plane I was on the TV on 2 different channels for The Office and TV To Go.

Q: As I said before were doing the Best Of 2002 Issue and I'm pleased to tell you we've got the Office in the Best TV Comedy Show category and Gareth as one of the best TV Characters of the year. Why do you think Gareth stands out as one the characters of 2002 and what have you thought of Comedy shows this year?
A: I was thinking he's kind of the clown in the Office, but then David Brent is even more ridiculous than Gareth even. It's an interesting one because he's hateful and he's a total arse - kind of the same as David Brent or Alan Partridge - these hateful characters, but you just can't stop watching them like a road accident!!!

I think there have been some amazing programs this year and I read an article the other day where people were saying it was a golden age for British Comedy which maybe is taking it a little too far. But this season you've had League Of Gentlemen, Alan Partridge and The Office and there's always good stuff to watch.

Q: You're over in the States at the moment and obviously there's talk of The Office being adapted to Stateside audiences. I've always thought of the Office as a very english show - do you think it will work over there?
A: I'm a big fan of American comedies and I think they write the most amazing sitcoms. There bringing the Office over to the States in January for BBC America, but there also talking about recasting it for an American audience which I think will be quite weird.

I did think it was Uniquely British but there's two americans that I know that have seen it and enjoyed it, but whether the general public at large will I don't know. They might need the show transformed into Americanisms and take the bare bones of the show as being set in an office with Gareth being your Redneck called Garth.

Q: Over here in the UK there been rumours that the Office will return for a 3rd series or a one off special. What's the state of play at the moment and as regards the loose ends how do think Gareth will react to them.  For instance Gareth was in the position of taking David Brent's job at the end of the 2nd series - but knowing that Gareth sees David Brent as almost his hero / father figure how do you think he will react with his new found power? And of course Gareth's mystery woman?
A: All I know is that everyone's keen and I honestly don't know if Ricky and Steve want to do that again. But it would be great to do a 3rd series.

It was left with Gareth taking over and it would be awful if he did. I can't imagine it would be a very nice place to work. David Brent is Gareth's hero, but I think he's very of fickle as well. The way Gareth is so fond of his job and the whole dynamic of Wernham Hogg...but as soon as he was offered the job there was no remorse or no feelings for David Brent then so I think he will forget him pretty quickly. He's an evil little weasel!!!

I thought they were actually going to introduce Gareth's girlfriend character in this series and I was dreading what she was going to be like. But I don't how much of this mystery girlfriend is bullshit and all these girlfriends he talks about - they're probably mingers!!!

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