Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Time For: Plan B

'My b*******s look massive, don't they?'

Last month, I caught up with Ben Drew AKA Plan B for i-D magazine's pre-fall 'Just Kids' issue. As a man that is unquestionably a voice of a generation, Ben had lots to say on the youth of today.

Here's a little outtake from stuff about his forthcoming film, his love of a jazz apple and reading 50 Shades of Grey. Read the full interview, in i-D, which is available now. Pictures by the brilliant Alasdair Mclellan.

Firstly. Nice jeans.
Yeah man, I'm doing some new stuff, like these tie-dye jeans. I wore 'em on Alan Carr and he was like ‘They are a bit loud.’ They've had mixed responses. It's what me and my band do. My mate, who I met through Chase & Status, designs them for me, he's been designing clothes for ages. We’ll get a pair of jeans, unstitch them, and then we’ll just tie-dye the backs, stitch them back together and then we’ll stitch it inside of the pocket. We’ll do a bit where you can have the roll up and stuff and then wear them with braces. It's a bit punk, a bit skinhead.

How and why did you get involved with The Sweeney?
I always wanted to do the film but I was offered a smaller role, and I couldn’t do it at the time. I couldn’t really do it anyway, but when they offered me the role of Carter, I couldn’t say no. They ended up pushing the filming back for me and waited for me to do iLL Manors. They made it work and it was a good time for me to get fit again as well. I didn’t want to do a film where I look a bit fat. I lost the weight in 12 weeks and the next time, Nick (Love, the director) saw me and I was 12 and a half stone.

How did you lose the weight?
Bodybuilder weights. You haven’t got to do a lot of cardio, so you're just picking up loads of shit. Your body takes three days to repair the muscles so for three days you can sit on your arse and you’re burning calories, as long as you don’t put calories in your body. Your body has to burn it from what’s there, so it just falls off.

So, what do you eat then? 
Loads of steak, loads of sliced chicken breast, which you can get from the supermarket. Snack-a-jacks, olives, jazz apples. Do you know about jazz apples? There’s this new apple, this invention from the '80s,  they are wicked. They are a mix between the British Cox and the Gala. They are lovely. I’d have them refrigerated and then I’d have sugar free Alpen. Then, there’s this stuff called Oatey which is milk made from oats. I was really trying to stay away from dairy products and fatty things. It sounds really hard but when you get into it, you know where to get it. I won’t just eat any olives either, some are nasty. They have to got be tasty olives, so I found these ones called Manzanilla olives from Marks & Spencers. When you know where to get the nice, fresh product, you can handle it if you’re hungry. Nuts as well. If you’re hungry you could have more cashew nuts and it kills the hunger for about an hour. You’d be hungry again in an hour and a half but, you could have a couple of nuts, have some rice cakes and it means you can get throughout the day and have that one full meal. Like, a massive steak. You can have some grilled prawns or salad with it.

So, you lost the weight and in the Sweeney, there’s a scene with you in your pants. Have you seen that scene yet?

Were you comfortable doing a scene like that?
It was cool, it was alright. My b*******s look massive, don't they? I don’t think I’d ever do a naked movie at all. I'd do underpants but I’d have to go down to the tanning salon to top it up because I’m a pretty pale guy.

How was The Winstone?
Ray just made me feel like I was supposed to be there, do you know what I mean? For me, it was a shock that they offered me the role and he was, like, a proper actor. He’s proved himself where as me, I haven’t really. He never made me feel like I didn’t deserve to be there though. He respected me.

Do you feel like a proper actor now?
No, not really. I was very out of my comfort zone in the Sweeney. I find it very difficult and uncomfortable to watch it back. I still feel I can act but I don’t think I can call myself an actor yet. You look at someone like Daniel Day Lewis who can play a gay guy, a disabled person, he can play an American gangster back in 1892 or whenever it was. Do you remember Gangs of New York? Then he will do There Will Be Blood. For me, that’s someone who is a true actor. He can put on different accents. Like, Stephen Graham as well - Combo from This is England. For me, those people are actors because they can adopt something completely alien to them. You believe it and go with it. It’s not that I say I can’t do it, I just haven’t done it yet. I think that the day I really challenge myself and look back at something and go ‘I’ve done well there, I believe that,’ is the day that maybe I’ll call myself and actor. But, I can act.

How was snogging Kara Tointin of Eastenders fame for the film?
With Kara, we didn’t have a lot of time. So, when I met up with her we just spoke about past relationships and spoke about things that annoyed each other about people from the past, and things that didn’t.I remember asking her why she broke up with her last boyfriend but I can’t remember what she actually told me. But, it was that kind of conversation. I felt that you had to try really quickly to build a history without spending much time. It’s only a few scenes but I was just really worried. I didn’t want to be uncomfortable around her because there were times where we would have to embrace and kiss. I didn’t want it to be really awkward.

What’s next, acting-wise? iLL Manors is obviously out, The Sweeney is about to come out...?
The Sweeney is out in September. I don’t know. I’m not thinking about what I’m going to do next, I need a break. I’m tired now. The next thing I do is going to take close up to two to three years. I like that, but I just have to be very careful about what I choose to do. I don’t want to do something where my heart’s not in it. Plus, everything I do, for instance when I lost my weight, there were songs playing on the radio but I hadn’t made a video for it because I just hadn’t had the time. So, I’m taking the whole of August off.

What will you do?
I was going to go to L.A because I worked in L.A in February, working on the album and I didn’t get to party. I was going to go there but then I thought ‘You’re having your first holiday in 3 years, you’ve been working 7 days a week the whole time, what, I’m going to go to L.A and party?’ What I really need to do is just relax, read books, loads of books which people have bought me or I bought myself but, I haven’t had time to read. There’s just certain conversations I want to have with my friends and loved ones that I haven’t been able to have. Talk about what has been going on and reflect on the last 3 years. London is the place to do that. There are loads of people that I have been trying to meet up with just to have a drink. Friends of mine have gotten married and had kids. I think I just need to be here and just do nothing. Just get in touch with my spirituality again. Remember why I am doing all of this.

Are you planning to read 50 Shades of Grey?
Maybe! There’s a lot of people loving that book. A girl tweeted about it. 'I wish Plan B was my Mr. 50 Shades of Grey'. That’s intriguing, I better read it and see what she means by that.

Fisting, by all accounts.

Last question. Given what you have achieved so far, what else do you hope to achieve in life? 
I dunno. I mean obviously there’s loads of artist stuff I wanna do. I have to be very careful on what I choose to do. In terms of stuff I haven’t achieved – I just think it’s more of the same. Like, going back to that school, made me feel like there’s a reason for me to be there. I think aspirations of being a musician, being a successful artist, making the album, stuff like that, are all selfish things. I wouldn’t necessarily say that God put me on this Earth so that I could do that. God didn’t put me on this Earth so that I could be famous and rich. What am I gonna learn from that? When I went back to that school, I felt like God put me on this Earth for that. 

The reason that I’m famous and rich, is the only way that I’m going to get through to those people, is if I’m someone they know, someone they look up to as an artist. Because there’s loads of teachers in that school that give a fuck, who care as much as I do, but they’re not me. So kids don’t listen to them. I walk in that school and really I had the upper hand, I had the advantage. Instead kids are like, 'Oh my God, it’s Plan B, and he’s here, and he gives a shit and I’m going to work hard for him.' So without the fame, without the achievements, I wouldn’t have had that power. It kind of made me feel like, that’s why me having a hit album and having a film is all important. Because I can then use that profile to be something kids aspire to be and want to be. When I’m meeting them and engaging with them, when I’m doing what I did at the school, that’s why that stuff’s important. Only now I feel without the kids, without me going back to that school, none of that shit's important. It only becomes important if you use it to do something positive like I did in the school. For me, that’s the beginning. To be honest, I fell in love with them kids.


The Sweeney is out 12 September

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