Bull Star David Hayman on His Last-Minute Cast Addition, Co-Stars
David Hayman is one of the most venerable and versatile Scottish character actors around, which was something writer-director Paul Andrew Williams needed when he called him up as a last-minute replacement in his revenge thriller Bull. The actor's had a diverse range of roles throughout from his nearly 60-year career, including his turn in the biopic Sid & Nancy, the action-adventure film Vertical Limit (2000), the war drama The Boy in the Striped Pajamas (2008), and the 2015 incarnation of the Shakespearean classic Macbeth. I spoke to the actor who plays Norm about working with Williams, star Neil Maskell, and becoming one of the first productions to enter COVID protocols.
"[I liked] the quality of the script. I thought it was an extraordinary story, completely unlike anything I'd ever read in years; it was extremely violent, visceral, and very challenging," Hayman said. "I was only cast a few days before the movie started shooting because someone had to drop out. So it's just like quicksilver. I had no time to think about it. I love Paul Andrew Williams' work. His movies and work are challenging. I love the cast. So it was a no-brainer for me to do it. I knew it would be tricky because it was a very low budget, and you're always it always kicks bullocks scramble when you're not working with very much money. I'm really proud of how it turned out. It's a very effective film, I think."
Bull stars Maskell as the title character, a vicious mob enforcer who returns ten years to seek revenge against the gang that double-crossed him, leading up to a showdown between his wife (Lois Brabin-Platt) and her mob boss father (Hayman). "Neil is a force of nature," Hayman said. "He's just an extraordinary human being, and I think he's a powerhouse of this movie. He's like a bull in a China shop charging through. He is wonderful, and he's got such a level of intensity. You have to raise the bar with them and a great cast of supporting actors around. It was very humorous on set as well because you're dealing with such a heavy subject, such a level of intensity. It's nice to have a little bit of levity in a little bit of humor."
When Hayman entered the set, he fit right in. "I just asked, 'what accent do you want?' and Paul said, 'Your own, we all use our own accent,'" he said. "So it's a lovely mix of regional accents from the United Kingdom, and he gives you great freedom in front of the camera. He was a joy to work with." He also entered a unique situation as the world was dealing with a global pandemic. "We were one of the first movies in production entering the lockdown," he explained. "So we were kind of a test case in a sense; a couple of productions had attempted as well. It was very, very well worked out. We didn't have a lot of money to throw at the problem, but we were all very careful about handwashing and wearing masks until we were in front of the camera. We had different zones, regions, green zones, whatever, and we managed that. I think we managed to get through completely free. No one got COVID. That's down to the production, and it went down to all of us around personal responsibility."
It's a new norm Hayman has been used to in his recent production, including his upcoming one in the Disney+ series Star Wars: Andor. "I've been involved in about six movies during the lockdown, really, and they're all differing levels of protection from low budget independent movies to doing the TV series of Star Wars, and that's a huge jump," he said. "We spent millions on it on testing and protection, and on all that. So it's very different. But all of them had the same task in mind just to keep everyone as safe as possible. So we've been very lucky, and I haven't caught COVID." Saban Films' Bull, which also stars Tamzin Outhwaite, is currently playing in theaters and comes to on-demand and digital on April 5th.