British writer and actor Simon Farnaby is a long-standing member of comedy show The Mighty Boosh. Released for home entertainment next week, his latest project is the hilarious feature film Mindhorn, which he co-wrote with fellow Boosh star Julian Barrett. The story casts Barrett as Richard Thorncroft, a washed-up actor who is forced to reprise his most famous character – 1980s TV detective Mindhorn – to help catch a killer on the Isle of Man.
ASFF: How did the idea for Mindhorn evolve?
SF: I was sat one night with a notepad trying to think of ideas for things – TV and film. I was listening to a song and I heard the name Mindhorn and I wrote it down. It sounded like a 1980s detective. I thought, “I wonder if you can do something with that genre.” I used to love Bergerac, and all those single-name maverick detectives like Kojak and Six Million Dollar Man. I thought, “How can you do that but not be a spoof?”
ASFF: How did Julian Barratt – who plays Richard Thorncroft, aka Detective Mindhorn – get involved?
SF: Julian and I were hanging around a lot in those days trying to think of things, and I told him about this thought of an actor who used to play this character, and he loved that idea and then we both ran with it. Most of the film would be about the actor but he had a relationship with this character that he couldn’t get away from. The comedy of it just started sprouting. Julian said, “I think I could play this part.” He thought he was too young at the time, but thankfully it took ten years [to make the film].
ASFF: You play the Dutch stuntman Clive, a rival to Mindhorn. How did that come about?
SF: It came about quite late. I wasn’t really worried about who I was going to play. I’d played a döppelganger of Julian’s in the Boosh, because we have a similar beady-eyed look. So it made sense if I played a stuntman. We wanted him to be as opposite and opposed to Richard as we could, which meant being a little bit more in shape.
ASFF: Have you thought about a follow-up film?
SF: We already toyed with the sequel – where Julian, the actor, becomes defined by this film Mindhorn! We thought, “That’s getting a little too meta.” But it made us laugh – it’s the same themes, feeling your best days are behind you. A lot of good actors don’t really mind that. Tom Hanks will always get [seen as] Forrest Gump, let’s say, but he’s done plenty of other things and seems quite content to move on. We find it funny – when actors try to tell you what they’re defined by.
ASFF: Is that like Richard Thorncroft?
SF: With Richard, he thought he was going to fly. He’d got this hit playing Mindhorn and he’d go to Hollywood and he was going to get film offers. That was his flaw really. It ended up being the only thing he was famous for, so it was a thing he loved but also hates, because it defined him.
Mindhorn is available to download from 28 August and is on DVD and Blu-ray from 4 September. For more information, visit www.studiocanal.co.uk
1. Trailer for Mindhorn. Courtesy of Vimeo.