Billy "Shiner" Simpson (Michael Caine) is seeing his dreams come true. After years of promoting unlicensed fights, he's finally going to present a prestigious legal fight, and to top it all his son "Golden Boy" is in the ring. This is the night of Billy's life. He needs extra protection, much to the annoyance of his old minder, ex-bare-knuckles fighter Stoney (Frank Harper). I play the new recruit, Mel, who doesn't fit in with the crew as they might have hoped.
The big night turnsThe big night turns sour, and recriminations are in order. Mel tops the list of suspects who could have betrayed Billy, and as Billy's state of mind rapidly deteriorates, he lashes out at all those around him.
Mel is an annoying little terrier of a man. Ex-army (dishonorably discharged), he has a huge problem being told what to do by anybody. He also has a huge problem keeping a straight face - his uncontrollable enjoyment of others' ill fortunes shows up as a permanent grin. He's sadistic, vicious, and impulsive, and he's also about to become a dad. This is what attracted me to the part. Scott Cherry's script always remembers that gangsters are real people who have families and lives that are ordinary and at times banal. The writer has provided an unusual double-act in Mel and Stoney - the driving antagonism between them is their lack of history - they just don't know each other at all and are constantly vying for the upper hand. Their relationship is summed up by dialogue in one scene where both of them refuse to open the door of Billy's stretch limo. "I ain't got your style," says Mel. "I ain't got your smile," replies Stoney.
Michael, Frank, and I spent every Sunday for ten weeks driving around London in a Jaguar. - cember 2000