The set was located on Southend sea front and with the cold wind whipping in off the North Sea and driving the drizzling grey clouds inland it wasn’t the best day to be stood around outside and certainly one of the less conducive days to be filming a sequence set in Iraq but if you’ve seen the trailer I think you’ll agree it looks superb.
The cast and crew were hard at work throughout the day with Ronnie there later on and I was fortunate enough to be able to get a couple of minutes to sit down with him in the slight shelter afforded by the catering tent in between takes.
HeyUGuys: Did you set out with an autobiography in mind?
Ronnie Thompson: Well, to be honest with you what I went through in the prison service was absolutely diabolical. I was doing my job to the best of my ability, I worked hard, I played hard. I was young and I was stupid in many respects like many young guys are but when I was at work I worked exceptionally hard and just from doing my job and being caught up in an investigation that should never have happened I found myself suspended from duty with the possibility of going to prison myself, of being found guilty of something that I’d never done. It was just ridiculous, it was a farce, it was crazy. I was very, very angry, as the book shows, and parts of it I’m mildly embarrassed by now ’cause I was so angry. I was so, SO angry but the book became my catharsis, it was a way for me to vent my anger and draw a line under that part of my life and it turned out that what I wrote, it was fairly good and people wanted to read it so that’s kind of how it went.
HeyUGuys: Are you hoping that partly from the book and maybe from the film that people get a different view of Prison Officers and perhaps bring a change of mind in people?
RT: I wish I could say ‘yeah’ but not really cause it’s never going to change. My book didn’t change anything and the film won’t change anything and I haven’t written the film to change anything. I’ve vented my anger and my frustration and I’ve written the film to entertain people but with this entertainment I’ve also got a realism thread that runs through it so people can actually look at the job that a Prison Officer does whilst watching a crime thriller movie. It’s not a political statement, that’s not my intention. I was frustrated and I said my piece in my book about how I think it should change. I said it probably not in the subtlest way or the best way but I said my piece and that part of my life’s now finished.
HeyUGuys: Now that you’ve moved on do you find it odd to watching somebody being you at that time?
RT: Yeah I do but Sam the character in my film, he’s not me. He’s not me but he’s inspired by some of the things that I did so there are certain events that Sam goes through that did happen to me and are in the book, and yet strange, very strange [laughs]. James D’Arcy is an incredibly good actor and he’s handled all of the elements very sensitively. There’s certain parts of it I’ve found quite distressing to watch and he was very sensitive to me and yes, it’s been really good and really interesting, but strange.
HeyUGuys: What are you doing now other than this? Are you writing more?
RT: Yeah, yeah, yeah. I’ve got a multiple book deal with Headline, my second book’s out at the moment and my third one’s out next year . I’m doing another film next year so the plan really is to do a book and a film a year in an ideal world so if this one does what I’m hoping it will do then that’s what I’ll do.
HeyUGuys: And how was Scarborough? Were you up in Scarborough for all the filming there?
RT: I certainly was indeed! It was good. They were very hospitable and the location, the prison wing that we used, was great but it’s nice to be home though.
HeyUGuys: And was that weird going inside a building being a prison after all this time?
RT: Yeah. I mean when it was strange was when we had the actors and the supporting artists there and the wing was full up of inmates and officers [pauses] strange, surreal, but great as well.
HeyUGuys: You didn’t get any flashbacks or anything?
RT: No, but a couple of times I walked around and it felt like it did when I worked.
HeyUGuys: You didn’t bend anybody up*?
RT: [laughs] No, no no. I’m well past that now.
*prison officer slang for restraining an inmate
Screwed is released on June 3rd.