Robert Sheehan (‘Misfits’) interview

Robert Sheehan returns as ASBO teen Nathan for a second series of E4’s comedy drama Misfits in November 2010.

> Buy the Series 1-2 boxset on Amazon.

You were trapped in a coffin six feet under at the end of the first series of Misfits. Are you stuck in it for the whole of series two?

“I would have liked to have been stuck in it for the whole of series two because that would have meant just coming into work every day, lying down horizontally and scratching my arse for 12 hours, but I don’t think it would have made very gripping telly, so yes, I manage to get out.”

Can you tell us how you get out?

“No way. Life is a precious thing. I’d be killed for real if I told you.“

And did you always know that you were going to get out, or were you worried that you might get stuck underground for ever?

“No, I always knew I’d get out. Otherwise what would be the point? I think either kill him, just forget about him, or bring him out of the coffin. I’m pretty sure it had to be the third option.”

And we finally found out at the end of the first series what your superpower was. Will you be using that a lot in the second series?

“Yeah, it kind of unintentionally gets used, in the sense that I get murdered and killed in very imaginative and strange and gruesome ways, but of course the power kicks in, so it’s not detrimental to my survival. And it also serves to make me far more arrogant and annoying.”

It’s not the sort of power you can just choose to use, is it? I suppose you can only use it when you need it…

“Exactly. When it kicks in it’s very much like… it’s like a back-up plan, you know, a nice safety net.”

A get out of jail free card…

“Yeah, to put one’s mind at ease when close to death.”

Would you like to be immortal like Nathan?“Would I like to be immortal? Erm… You know what, maybe that whole Dorian Gray option could be quite interesting, if that were indeed an option. You could always look upon your painting and see the terrible, terrible aging process, and have a certain feeling of transience in your life while keeping beautifully youthful for the rest of your days, but otherwise no, I wouldn’t like to be immortal.”

Yeah, I think it turned out to be a bit of a curse for Dorian in the end, but it is quite tempting, isn’t it?

“Yeah, yeah, you know, and plus if you were immortal you’d have to watch all your pets die – and of course, all your friends…

Yeah, but mostly the pets…

“Yeah, you know, goldfish, tortoises. You know, they live for ages, but you’d outlive every tortoise you have. You know why they’re not good pets to have? Because tortoises apparently generally outlive their owners, I mean what is a tortoise supposed to do after his owner dies?”

For most of the first series we didn’t think Nathan had any superpowers. Did you always know that he was going to have one or did you worry that you were going to be left out?

“I knew that he had one, but I think the running gag in the first series was the build-up to and anticipation around the eventual reveal. For whoever was a fan of the show that was their main curiosity as the show went on, it was ‘well he definitely has one, what’s it going to be?’ you know? But yeah, I knew what it was at the beginning.”

And of course, Misfits won the BAFTA for best drama series. How did that feel?

“It felt quite… tingly… other than that, there’s not much memory involved due to all the adrenaline. It was a lovely experience, mainly because I’d convinced myself we wouldn’t win at all. I was just so very happy that we were nominated and to be there glitzing around and ponceing about in a suit. The win itself was an amazing added bonus, of getting to go up on stage and ponce around for a few more minutes and then celebrate for the rest of the night.”

And did you expect Misfits to be so popular?

“I knew the scripts were brilliant; Howard had written some brilliant scripts, but you can never really tell until it goes out; and I think it’s difficult to be entirely objective because you live it for four months. It’s tricky to know whether it’s going to be good or not or how people are going to react to it or what people might find wrong or indeed right with it. You just kind of throw it out there and hope to God it works, like a piece of dodgy bait on a fishing rod.”

I suppose the success of the first series puts a weight of expectation on the second. Are you confident that second series will live up to the first?

“Yeah, well, thankfully Howard and his very strange but wonderful brain and the rest of the development team were bubbling with ideas and already had a lot laid out for the second series, which only helped heighten and expand the whole world of Misfits, I suppose. So there was never any trouble of ‘ooh, what’s this second difficult album going to be?’ because it was already really sorted before the first series even ended filming.”

You said that Nathan’s going to get a chance to use his immortality power a few times in the second series. Can you let us know anything else we can expect from the second series?

“You can expect to see Iwan’s nipples – who plays Simon – he gets his nipples out a lot. I won’t tell you in what context. All I’ll say is that you see his nips. “

And finally, you probably get asked this all the time, but if you could have any superpower yourself, what superpower would you have?

“I think I would like to have a heightened, super level sense of smell. So that when you’re in a restaurant you can impress your friends and family by, you know, picking up a glass of wine and being able to determine the ingredients of that particular glass of wine, and in that way look like a connoisseur, but you’re actually a phoney because you have a smell superpower.”

Yeah, that sounds good. But it could be a bit of a curse as well if you’re smelling less pleasant things…

“Good point, ok, let’s say we can switch it on and off as well.”