Norse legends and Arthurian monsters: actor Ralph Ineson on his breakout year

From Shakespearean tragedies to action-packed mob epics – the Yorkshireman's come a long way from Finchy

Best remembered for his time playing moustachioed bastard Chris Finch in The Office, Ralph Ineson has spent the past two decades trying to outrun that role. Equipped with a distinctive gravelly voice, the journeyman actor has played characters as diverse as a cruel 17th century peasant in period horror The Witch – and a senior First Order officer in Star Wars: The Last Jedi.

Pandemic-inflicted delays have squeezed a number of Ineson’s projects into 2021. He now has a total of five films scheduled or expected this year. There’s the titular – and gnarly – monster in fantasy fright-fest The Green Knight, a “very cool” mob boss in Karen Gillan action vehicle Gunpowder Milkshake, and the “tortured dad” from drag celebration Everybody’s Talking About Jamie. Plus a few more, of course.

To dig deeper into Ineson’s blockbuster breakout year, NME caught up with the Yorkshireman over Zoom for a highly enjoyable chat.

The Green Knight

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Release date: July 30

Ralph Ineson: “I loved the character as soon as I read the script – he’s got such devilment but also warmth about him. I think you get such an atmosphere from the trailer of exactly what it’s gonna be about. It’s dark and it’s weird, but it’s funny as well. I think David Lowery is a witty director and he’s got a beautiful eye.

“Dev Patel is an astonishing actor. Sometimes when you’re face to face with an actor – a few days just the two of you – you really get to see how someone works and he’s amazing.”

For fans of: Game of ThronesGretel and Hansel

Gunpowder Milkshake

Release date: TBC, expected 2021

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“Some of the action scenes are gonna be out of this world. It’s very exciting and it’s crazy. It’s the story of a bunch of assassin librarians and one of them kills my son, who’s a gangster gone rogue, and I’m a local mobster. So my people are chasing these assassins and the cast list [including Karen Gillan, Lena Headey, Carla Gugino, Michelle Yeoh and Angela Bassett] is just incredible. Every one of them is a proper icon-type female badass. It’s serious Girl Power stuff.”

For fans of: John Wick, Charlie’s Angels

Gunpowder Milkshake
‘Gunpowder Milkshake’. CREDIT: Studiocanal

Everybody’s Talking About Jamie

Release date: TBC, expected 2021

“I got sent it and went: ‘Oh it’s got Richard E. Grant in it, wow!’ That’s a big one for me because I’m a huge Withnail and I fan. I read it and really enjoyed it – it was a really good script and I thought the characters [felt] real. Sarah Lancashire’s brilliant and to [act] opposite her was a real pull.

“It looks like the kind of film that’ll be really important the sooner they can release it. Even if it’s not out for another six months or a year, I think it’ll still be important, because it’s a really feel-good film and it’s about tolerance and inclusivity and all sorts of things that everybody needs right now. But it’s also a film that’ll make people smile and laugh.”

For fans of: RuPaul’s Drag RacePride

The Tragedy of Macbeth

Release date: TBC, expected 2021

“It’s a small part at the very start of the film, as The Captain who comes back to report from battle – it’s a great speech. It turned out that Joel Coen had wanted my voice to open the film, so they flew me out to LA to do that, which is a great compliment.

“It’s shot in black-and-white – it’s gonna look fantastic. Before we started shooting, I walked through all the artwork and design department and it’s spooky stuff. The costume as well, it creates a world that’s kind of both majestic and dirty and bloody – it’s what you’d expect from Joel Coen doing Macbeth, but in lots of ways it’s not.”

For fans of: No Country for Old Men, The Favourite

The Northman

Release date: TBC, expected 2021

“It’s an enormous movie. I saw a four-minute montage of some of the stuff they’d already shot and I was really blown away. The marriage of Rob Eggers’ imagination and Viking folklore… Jesus, man.

Alexander Skarsgård looks like an absolute beast. [There’s] a scene where he beats this guy in a battle; bends down and rips his throat out with his teeth, screams to the gods and he’s got his shirt off – and you think: ‘My god that’s not a bodybuilder doing a scene, that’s like a proper serious actor!’ He’s made himself look like some kind of monster for the part, the dedication’s incredible. I think it will be a bit of a masterpiece, to be honest. If I was to put bets on any film being an absolute banger, it would be that one.”

For fans of: Vikings, The Lighthouse

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