Stephen Graham has said shooting the film Boiling Point in a single take was the most “zen” acting experience of his life.
The Merseyside-born actor answered questions, alongside the film’s director Philip Barantini, following a screening of the film in Liverpool on Friday evening.
The continuously shot film follows Graham as head chef Andy Jones, working the last Friday in December at restaurant Jones and Sons in Dalton, London.
He said: “For me, it is the most zen acting I have ever done in my life.
“When you’re acting you’re always told it’s about being in the moment and living for that moment you’re in.
“With that you have no choice because you are actually right in the moment and in the environment.”
The cast and crew took over the restaurant, owned by a friend of Barantini, in March 2020 and had intended to film eight full takes, but the arrival of the coronavirus pandemic meant they were only able to shoot it four times.
Barantini said when he called cut on the third take, the cast celebrated as if they had won the Champion’s League final.
Graham said: “The whole room just exploded.
“I was knackered for about three days after.”
Barantini said a fourth take was more technically perfect, but the earlier version was used for the film because of the performances.
Graham added: “I always said we’d get it on the third take.”
Graham and Barantini, also originally from Merseyside, met about 20 years ago when both were actors in series Band Of Brothers.
The film is loosely based on time Barantini spent working as a chef and covers issues including self-harm, addiction and racism – all in the space of one night’s service at the restaurant.
The actors were initially given a script with no dialogue, only stage directions, and improvised the words during rehearsals.
Graham said: “We just let it be as free as possible and then everything is improvised so it’s natural.
“We have a blueprint or skeleton and we’re allowed to embellish that as we go along.”
He said they also tried to ensure the cast was diverse.
“We wanted our cast to be a fair representation of what a London, or Liverpool, or any working class kitchen would be,” he said.
Asked how working with his friend compared to being directed by Martin Scorsese, Graham said the two were very similar.
He said: “They are both two people I really admire, respect and two people I love to work with.”
He said he was “speechless” to be joined by family members including his parents and son to watch the screening at FACT Liverpool.
He said: “It’s overwhelming, for me personally.”
Boiling Point is in cinemas and on digital platforms in the UK and Ireland now.