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Moviehole Interview - Jim Piddock

With all the oversized beings and minute freaks running amok on the set of the new super-sequel Austin Powers 3, it's great to spot a cast member who looks rather sane. Then again, in the film he's playing the headmaster of our doting hero…how sane can that man be? Actor, Jim Piddock reveals all to Clint Morris

Like Gwyneth Paltrow and Britney Spears, You're cameo-ing in Austin 3. How's the set?

I'm not sure I can give you an informed answer to that one, because like most people doing cameos in the movie, I was only on the set for one day. What I can say though is that the director, Jay Roach, is among the nicest and coolest directors I've ever come across. He made my short experience working on the film very enjoyable.

Tell me a bit about the headmaster role you're playing?

The challenge of doing an appearance like that, in a film, is to make the character clearly defined and, hopefully, funny also. It's kind of a Hogwart's boarding school for spies, and since I went to an all boy's boarding school in England, I had plenty of role models to draw from. I'll just be happy if the character ends up in the movie. I was actually supposed to be in Austin Powers 2, playing an ice cream salesman (with an excellent double entendre about "crushed nuts"), but the part got cut from the script before I even had a chance to shoot it. Such is the wonderful world of movies!

This character sounds great. Were you disappointed when the 'Goldmember' title was banned?

I was certainly surprised. It does seem fairly ridiculous what is allowed and what isn't. I mean how can the powers-that-be okay "The Spy Who Shagged Me" and nix "Goldmember"? It doesn't make a lot of sense. However, I'm sure Mr. Myers and Co. will find another suitably amusing title.

You've done lots of TV work - what are the notable differences between doing that and a feature film?

Time. Apart from sitcoms, which are a whole other beast, there's no major difference between the two except the number of pages that have to be shot per day. The result is that in tv, there will be less set-ups for every scene and considerably fewer takes for each set-up. Mostly, you can expect to three or four takes at most in a TV show, whereas in a movie, the number will often be in double figures and sometimes as many as fifty or sixty takes.

Half-hour sitcoms are mostly done very differently. The vast majority are rehearsed, rather like a short play, for four days and then shot, in sequence, in front of a studio audience with four cameras simultaneously covering everything. Although it isn't always as swift an experience as people might imagine. Shooting 23 minutes (the standard length of a US sitcom without commercials) usually takes around four hours.

So did Britney Spears or Gwyneth pass on any tips. Ha Ha?

Ha Ha. I'm afraid not. They were all shooting on different days.

Why do you think the 'Austin Powers' movies have been so successful?

Well, for a start they're funny. They're also; in the same way the old British "Carry On" films and the more recent "Naked Gun" movies were, pretty much suitable for adults and kids. Although I did spend several hours trying to explain to my seven-year-old daughter what an "inflatable penis" is, after she saw the first Austin Powers!

I remember you from Mad About You. How was that experience?

Fun. Judy Geeson, who played my wife, was a friend so it was a very easy experience. Its creators and stars dictate the atmosphere on most TV shows, and Paul Reiser was a very kind and congenial host in that respect.

You were also in Best in Show, Christopher Guest is doing a new movie soon, are you involved?

Yes. We start shooting in May. I'd love to tell you all about it, but it's all so secret I'd have to kill you if I did. What I can say, though, is that it will be improvisation-based, as most of his other movies have been.

And back to films, As a cast member of "Independence Day" - are you surprised there's still been no sequel?

Yes and no. "Yes", because Hollywood will usually do a sequel to any successful film, but "no" because how the hell do you follow that?!

So no Independence Day 2, then What's next movie wise?

I'm starting to do some research for my character in the new Chris Guest movie, while currently doing a few episodes of "The Drew Carey Show", in which I'm playing the new owner of the store Drew works in. Then later in the Summer, if it all comes together, I'll be doing a film written and directed by Eric Idle. I also have a Cold War romantic drama-thriller, which I've written, that is supposed to be shooting this year and which I'll be a producer on also. Just keeping my fingers well crossed!

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