in2 Interview: Gangster mayhem returns with ‘The Pat Tate Story’

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Rise of the Footsoldier 3: The Pat Tate Story

CRAIG Fairbrass sums up ‘Essex Boy’ Pat Tate perfectly. “He was such a big character but at the turn of a sixpence was a violent bully.”

On the 10th anniversary of the release of the smash hit gangster classic Rise Of The Footsoldier, Fairbrass returns to the role of notorious gangster Tate in this prequel to the ‘Rise of the Footsoldier’ franchise.

With Rise of the Footsoldier I and II focusing on former football hooligan and underworld figure Carlton Leach, this is primarily about Tate, his friends, his enemies, heavy drug use and battering of anyone who stood in his way in his quest for cash and power.

Blazing a path from Marbella to the Medway in the late 80s, peddling pills and snorting coke, double-crossed by an ex-pat drug baron, Tate ends up in prison. Undeterred, he establishes himself as top dog inside and gets himself in shape in preparation for his release – when he plans to reclaim his turf the only way he knows how – with violence and no mercy.

We follow Tate’s life and exploits through the ranks of Essex’s criminal underworld which in 1995 led to his demise when he was one of three men shot dead along with Tony Tucker and Craig Rolfe – now known as the infamous Rettendon Range Rover murders.

“The first film (directed by BAFTA Award-nominated director Julian Gilbey) worked so well and had that mixture of both horrific violence and humour and people genuinely liked it,” says Craig. “There’s been at least 10 films about the Range Rover murders since, some okay but some unwatchable so to come back and top the first film was a risk. But when they approached me to come back again but with the original team and original production company I said yes.”

There’s no shortage of brutal and bloody scenes with beatings galore and mountains of the white stuff but plenty of banter and p**s-taking between the characters too.

Directed by Zackary Adler – the man behind the hit The Rise of/Fall of the Krays films, a crème de la crème of Brit gangster flick talent make up the cast including Terry Stone (Bonded By Blood), Eddie Webber (The Firm), Larry Lamb (The Hatton Garden Job), Jamie Foreman (Layer Cake), Josh Myers (Bonded By Blood 2), Roland Mannokian (The Business) and Billy Murray (Essex Boys). There are also appearances from Big Fat Gypsy Wedding star and bareknuckle fighter Paddy Doherty in his acting debut, and Happy Mondays frontman Shaun Ryder (below centre) as a nasty piece of work called Mad Dog who meets a back-breaking end.

The Scarface of Southend is a role Craig Fairbrass was born to play, and he grips the role between his teeth and does not let go. It’s a towering performance that cements the actor’s reputation as a screen hard man of the top rank.

“I think the Pat Tate character stood out, his was such a big vacuous character it made people interested in him, there’s so many threads to his life. What I saw I wanted to emulate and make as authentic as possible.”

Fairbrass has starred in numerous independent movies, he’s been to Hollywood and Albert Square starring in EastEnders for two years from 1999-2001. But it was his role opposite Hollywood heavyweight Denzel Washington in the 1980 film For Queen and Country that landed him his big break.

“As a young man I was obsessed with films and used to go to the pictures with my dad. I loved Charles Bronson, Sean Connery – all those big movie stars, larger than life characters and would have loved to have been in a film. I had problems at school, worked on building sites, went to drama school for about five minutes got an agent, got an audition and I got my break out role opposite Denzel.

“I’ve now done 24 movies since I left EastEnders, maybe even more than that. I’ve worked in America starring alongside Sylvester Stallone in Cliffhanger, Jason Statham in The Bank Job and more recently in revenge thriller The Outsider alongside James Caan and Jason Patric. I’ve had a pretty solid career in independent films and British gangster movies including St George’s Day. I also wrote and starred in a film called London Heist about a group of armed robbers. Set in Marbella and London, it’s a real underlying story with a twist to it.”

Having to grasp the underbelly of the underworld in many of his movies, I wonder what Craig thinks about violence on the streets of London today?

“It’s getting worse. We have a major problem with knife crime. I am sick to death reading about kids being buried, young kids dying. Regardless of what colour they are, these children need to be protected. The laws aren’t tough enough.”

Craig Fairbrass. Credit: Shiralee Swan

He may portray the hard man on screen but away from the film set it appears he simply enjoys doing what most 53 year-old men do in their spare time. “I like to travel, play a bit of golf, fish, do a bit of writing and read a lot of scripts – oh and take the dog for a walk,” he laughs.

 Rise of the Footsoldier 3: The Pat Tate Story is out in cinemas and on Digital HD 3 November, 2017 and on DVD and Blu-Ray 26 December, 2017.

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