Meeting The Parents - Martha Plimpton and Jason Flemyng star in A Town Called Malice
Nick Love’s A Town Called Malice pulls together an eclectic cast, drawing from both US and British talent, to bring his larger-than-life crime thriller to the screen. Detailing the exploits of the Lord family, audiences are plunged into the lives of south London gangsters in the 1980s.
At the top of the family tree are Albert and Mint Ma Lord, a deadly duo who are used to ruling the roost in every sense. Now they’re down on their luck, and they don’t like it. However, the fortunes of the Lord family are about to change when they see a brighter future for themselves in sunny Spain, far away from the prying eyes of the police and rival crime families.
Bringing to life Albert and Mint Ma are two of the most recognisable faces on the big and small screen. Jason Flemyng gives a tremendous performance as Albert, and Mint Ma is played by one of the most famous film actors of the 1980s, Martha Plimpton, who terrifies in her role as the brutal matriarch.
Plimpton says she hopes to rekindle that feeling she felt when watching the iconic American soap opera Dallas. “Every week, we would gather around the television, breathlessly waiting for the next horrible thing that Sue Ellen would do.” She feels that Nick Love’s script carries with it that sense of drama that audiences crave. For many, it will be something of a shock seeing the star of so many memorable childhood movies playing a south London gangster wife, but it’s a role that excited her. “When I read the script, I instantly thought, ‘I haven’t played a character like this before’,” says Plimpton. “I love the idea of Mint Ma’s grounded-ness and her deep, deep loyalty to her family.”
While preparing for the show, Love and Plimpton discussed the character’s backstory. “Albert and Ma met as children,” she says. “He rescued her from poverty and showed her a different world.” The beginning of their relationship is seen as one of hope, not unlike Gene (their on-screen son) and his girlfriend Cindy, who are the central characters in A Town Called Malice. “When we meet them, they have slid backwards,” says Plimpton. “Now she might realise that her husband isn’t as smart or strategic as she wished he had been.”
Flemyng is, of course, a veteran of gangster roles, having starred in Guy Ritchie's cult hit, Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch, both of which captured the criminal underbelly of London with swagger and style, much like A Town Called Malice. Now however, he is playing a quite different type of criminal. “Albert’s a misogynistic, racist beggar,” laughs Flemyng, who sees no similarities between himself and his onscreen role. “It’s great fun to go on Pride marches in my personal life, and then, when you go to work, you come out with all this nonsense.” For Flemyng, that’s part of the joy of being a character actor. “He’s a damaged soul, and part of me feels bad for him.”
One thing that Flemyng does relate to is Albert and Mint Ma’s loyalty to one another. “When you are 16-25, you are breaking up with people every six months,” begins Flemyng. “The thing that I am most proud of in my life is having my kids and my relationship with my missus. For Mint Ma and Albert it is the same – they are “for better or for worse.” (Although he does think that being married to Albert would be a lot worse than better.)
Flemyng admits he was surprised that his on-screen wife would be played by Martha Plimpton. “When they said that they were going to cast her as my gangster moll wife I said that it was the worst idea I had ever heard,” said Flemyng. “Then of course she nicked every scene and was perfect.”
The duo bonded well, although Flemyng graciously states that Plimpton is much more of a pro-actor than he is. “She a much more studied actor than I am, she’s really into her craft, but also she is literally selfless.” Plimpton was an admirer of Flemyng’s work and hoped that he was as wonderful a person as he was an actor. She wasn’t disappointed. “He is one of the most joyful, wonderful, kind and sweet men you will ever know.” Plimpton also went on to compare the difference between those working in the UK and the acting style across the pond. “I would say that the wonderful thing about Jason, and a lot of British actors, is that they just know how to do it,” she says. “It doesn’t take all this Sturm und Drang.”
All episodes of A Town Called Malice available now on Sky Max