Two nights ago, at 10pm, the final fifth series of Misfits began on E4. It comes to the US on Hulu at the end of the month. Benjie Goodhart talked to the cast for Bleeding Cool;
Over the last four series, Misfits has seen everything from BAFTAs to zombie cheerleaders, weird milk-twisting man to the bloke who thought life was a computer game. It's also seen dead bodies. Lots of them. Particularly dead probation workers. Now, with series 5 set to be the last, stars Matt Stokoe, Karla Crome, Nathan McMullen give us the lowdown on what they consider to be the best job in television.
This is the first series of Misfits without any of the original cast in it. Does that give you a sense of responsibility?
MS: Yeah, definitely. I feel like last year we were trying to convince people that we were the new gang, and you kind of wince to see if people are going to accept that or not. But I think we've claimed our status as the new gang, really. We've earned our stripes, or our jumpsuits. It feels very much like it's our series now, it feels very disconnected from the original series, in a good way. It feels like we're not having to live up to anybody else's reputation. We've carved our own out.
When you guys joined, did the original cast offer you any advice?
NM: It was only Nathan Stewart-Jarrett, who played Curtis, who was one of the original cast. When me and Karla first joined up, our first couple of days rehearsing, before we actually started filming, we managed to get a sense of how everything worked. There wasn't a conversation about advice, because we'd already seen the show, we just had to bring our own characters to the table.
MS: I think it might have been more needed if our characters were more connected to the old characters, if we were meant to know them really well. But when you first meet Fin and Jess, they don't know each other, they don't know anything about Rudy or Greg, they've just been plonked in the middle of community service. So they wouldn't know how everything works, they would feel like everything was a bit unfamiliar.
What kind of reactions have you had from Misfits fans since joining?
MS: Mine have been mostly negative [laughter].
To be fair, Alex hasn't always behaved brilliantly.
MS: He's a bit of a bugger, isn't he? It's always quite flattering when people say the character's not particularly nice, because it means you're doing something right. But I got a tweet from a fan telling me I was the worst actor that had ever been on Misfits and I should kill myself. [Laughter]. So I've been working a little bit harder this year, trying to steer away from that kind of feedback. But I think the response in general for everybody was really positive. People were quite quick to embrace everyone.
What's been your own favourite storyline or scene in Misfits?
KC: We were sent some episodes of the first three seasons to watch. I find it hard to be subjective about things, so I can't comment on the scenes that I've been involved with. So I really enjoyed going back and watching episodes from the first three series again, because I was such a big fan of the programme. One of the great ones was the Grand Theft Auto episode, where the guys saw everything as a computer game. It reminded me of when I'd started watching Misfits, just after I'd left drama school. There was a big buzz around the series, because it was this thing involving a lot of young, unknown actors, and I knew a lot of people who were auditioning for it. So when I finally sat down and watched it, I was amazed, I thought it was visually stunning, and the characters storylines were so brilliant. So that was a really good episode. Another one I really liked was the episode with the shape-shifter girl who was in love with Simon.
MS: My favourite scene – I can't give too much away – but there's a point in midseason where Fin and Rudy and Alex have to bury a body – I think it's episode 3 – and it takes up the bulk of the episode for us, because we make a really poor job of it. Filming those scenes was some of the most fun I've ever had, because it was so funny. It was a bit like how it would be if the three of us actually had to bury a body.
NM: I can't really pinpoint a scene in particular; it's more been about my relationships with key characters. I think Fin's ongoing feud with Alex has been brilliant for me. And it's spilled over into off-screen as well, because Matt and I hate each other [laughs. ] I've worked really closely with Joe [Gilgun] who plays Rudy as well. We all just have an absolute laugh together.
Does that laughter ever intrude into scenes? Is corpsing a problem?
MS: Yeah. We just dick about until somebody says action, and then we have to try our best to nit laugh. I think we've been better at not corpsing this year, because we've learned how to deal with each other. It's really good fun to make, and at no point does the comedy feel forced. It's just hanging out with your mates and dicking about. It feels like we're back at school. You keep expecting someone to come in and say "Seriously, we need to do some work now. We're not just here to have fun." It's the best job in the world.
KC: It's the most fun I've ever had doing a job. It's very special, and I know it won't happen again, because how often do you find yourself in a situation for six months where you are partnered up with people who are the same age as you, when you're, what's that saying, 'old enough to know better but too young to care'? You just have to relish the fact that we got to have such a good time, because I know it won't happen again.
NM: It helps that we also believe so much in what we're creating. When you watch an episode of Misfits and you see things that you find funny or you enjoy, that is exactly how we felt about it as actors. We were having that excitement and joy while filming it.
It's not exactly Songs of Praise. Do you enjoy the more risqué elements of the show?
MS: Yeah. I think a lot of what our audience of mostly teenagers and twenty-somethings find shocking is different from what people in older age groups find shocking. It doesn't talk down to people or patronise them. I think one of the things that Howard is really good at is he accurately represents young people. He doesn't tell them how they speak, and not everyone's rollerblading around – they actually behave like young people really behave. And a lot of it is really tongue-in-cheek. It's done to shock, but also to subvert any taboos that people might have. It's not remembered as being this horrendously offensive, controversial programme. It's remembered as something that maybe pushes the boundaries a little bit, and takes people out of their comfort zones.
Do you warn your parents or grandparents or ageing relatives before watching it?
NM: Last year I never. I don't get to see my granny that often. I saw her a couple of weeks ago, and she said "It's lovely to hear about the show starting again. I won't be watching it!"
KC: That's exactly what my nan says.
NM: This year, I think I'm going to tell people that it starts a week later than it actually does, for reasons that will become apparent. For my family, that's when it begins.
MS: I just tell them the wrong date. "It's on Monday, at 2 o'clock in the afternoon. On ITV." My family all abandoned me after the mangina storyline, so I haven't got anybody left to disappoint, really. I'm the black sheep of the family already.
Series 5 is the last series. Is it going to go out with a bang?
KC: That sounds so non-committal. It really will!
MS: Without people knowing it, every single series of Misfits has been building to this conclusion. Everything clicks into place. And within this self-contained season we've just made, from the very first frame you can tell there's something coming. And there are little hints to what that is dropped through the season. It's something you really should stick with, because the pay-off is going to be absolutely brilliant. The final scene wouldn't be out of place in a multiplex cinema, it's that epic in scale and ambition. It's so different to what people are used to. Misfits has always been about normal people with questionable morals and crap powers. But this is like "What happens if you now promote these characters into the realms of real superheroes. How will they fare with that?" It's bigger than anybody could anticipate.