Australian comedy A Few Best Men doesn't play it safe and that's just the way director Stephan Elliott and star Kris Marshall like it. Elliott (The Adventures of Priscilla: Queen Of The Desert) says he set out to “push the boundaries of bad behaviour'' in his latest film A Few Best Men.
It comes as no surprise then that he cast the man he considers his “evil British twin'' - Kris Marshall.
"He likes to think that and we indulge him because he's 50 years older than me,'' says Marshall.
"No, really, I'm quite happy for him to keep making that comparison as long as he keeps hiring me for his films.''
Marshall is best known for his turn in hit ensemble comedy Love Actually, as well as roles in Death At A Funeral and The Merchant Of Venice. His ongoing partnership with the Aussie filmmaker originally came about when Elliott was preparing to film his period dramedy Easy Virtue with Jessica Biel and Colin Firth. Elliott, who also wrote the film, was scheduled to play the butler and when it became apparent he wouldn't be able to do that with the shooting schedule, he called the next best thing.
"I'd never met Stephan before and two weeks before shooting I got this vague message on my answering machine.
"It said `Kris mate, it's Stephan Elliott here. I want you to be in my movie.'
"I was honoured to enter the long pantheon of British screen butlers.''Marshall says it was the start of a "beautiful friendship'' and one that led to him nabbing a part as one of the troublemaking groomsmen in Elliott's latest A Few Best Men.
"Everything that goes wrong in the film is due to my character,'' says Marshall of the mischievous role that appeals to both his and Elliott's sense of humour.
"On set Stephan would always say to me `find the devil' and I would reply `it has to be justifiable, otherwise he's just a c***.'
"He (the character) just doesn't think about things properly. He has a very male, short-termist view.''
The film reunites Marshall with Death At A Funeral writer Dean Craig, who he says has a remarkable ability to "knock down the bastions of social life''.
Marshall says the "layers'' of Craig's comedy provide the most "important'' ingredients.
"An audience like to be led down a garden path, but they don't like to be cheated or kicked down a garden path. That's an important discrepancy.
"You need to slowly ramp up the tension.
"Good comedy is all about high stakes and what people have to loose. The schadenfreude amongst people and the more devilish side of humanity likes to sit and witness that with the comfort of being outside of it.'' From cocaine-induced mother in laws to CPR on a ram, A Few Best Men doesn't play it safe. For Marshall, that's just the way he likes it.
"When I read the script I was like `this is nuts,'' he says.
"Stephan said to me `this isn't War and Peace or Ides Of March, it's just a laugh'.
"In times of austerity and when the world's going down the tube, people need a laugh.
"It's a riot.''
A Few Best Men opens today.