Why Stephen Merchant loved working with Christopher Walken
Q: Isn’t your character of lawyer Greg in “The Outlaws” inspired by your mother’s experiences?
A: In part the whole show is. I mean, my mother when I was growing up was involved with community service. She supervised criminals. She herself was not a criminal as far as we’re aware, and she supervised much like the character of Diane supervises offenders. In fact, she proudly goes around saying that the character of Diane is based on her. Although given some of the appalling things that Diane said, that’s a very strange boast on my mother’s part. (Laughs) … But my mother was a supervisor of offenders rather than a lawyer who’d been caught with a sex worker.
Q: How is it working with Christopher Walken?
A: I loved working with him. He’s very passionate about what he does. He gives you as many takes as you want. He gives you something different every time – he’s always got a sort of variety of things in the can. You know, he’s a very good collaborator in that way. And I think you hear horror stories of sort of some more seasoned actors just (saying), “I’ll give you one take and then I’m back to the hotel, love.” But he was not like that at all. He was always happy to stay around and try something different and support the younger actors and just bring his sort of stardust to the whole project, really.
My biggest anxiety of having Christopher on set was almost that he’s an older guy and we were shooting during COVID and so I was just constantly terrified that he might catch COVID on my watch. So I was really trying to police the set and if anyone looked like they might sneeze near Christopher, I’d sort of jump in front of him like I’m taking a bullet for the president.
But yeah, he got through it unscathed. And like I say, he just adds his star power and his kind of charisma and his enigma to the character and elevates the whole show, really.