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Peter Serafinowicz interview: 'I'd love to return to Spaced'

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Peter Serafinowicz

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You may know Peter Serafinowicz as Spaced ex-friend-from-hell Duane Benzie, therapy resort host Sctanley in Couples Retreat or the voice of Star Wars villain Darth Maul. He's also popped up in countless hit comedies from Stewart Lee's Comedy Vehicle to his very own BBC Two sketch programme The Peter Serafinowicz Show.

Fans have long been able to interact with Serafinowicz via his prolific (and hilarious) Twitter feed, and they can carry on the chat as part of the weekly Orange 'Film Night Live' conversation. Digital Spy caught up with Peter to talk about Spaced, Star Wars and those Arrested Development rumours...

How has the Orange Film Night been going?
"It's super-fun. We have guests on each week that are relevant to the films. A couple of weeks ago it was the 1989 Batman and I interviewed Adam West. That was not only the highlight of this series but it was pretty much the highlight of my year."

You're pretty famous yourself - do you still get a buzz talking to your heroes?
"I do. I'm not in his league - in his Justice League. You end up working with so many people who are your heroes in this job that you have to become a bit - not blasé - but you get used to it. So, you really notice it when you are star-struck. I really was. I was on the phone with him. I was giggling like a little baby!"

Looking back, what was it like to be the voice of Darth Maul in Star Wars: Episode 1 - The Phantom Menace?
"I was very disappointed when the film actually came out, because I didn't think it was very good! But it was certainly an extremely exciting thing to be a part of and now to have been a part of.

"Particularly now, because I'm a big Star Wars fan and my little boy loves it. I think it's thrilling for him. He kind of understands that I'm the voice of Darth Maul.

"It's a very weird thing. I'm the voice of Driver Dan on CBeebies and he can understand that more. It's a hard concept, I only just barely understand it myself, and I'm 39! It certainly is nice to be part of the whole Star Wars universe."



Simon Pegg's Spaced character Tim famously hated Episode 1 - did you joke about it on set?
"Yeah, sure! I think I rang him from New York and we'd only just become friends then. I said 'Simon, I'm sorry, it's really s**t'. Yeah, it was something that we bonded over.

"It was a real shame, because I think the first Star Wars film is my favourite film ever. That would be my Desert Island Film. For me it's got everything. There's not a beat wrong in that film.

"It's a testament to the resilience of the Star Wars universe itself that even with all the tweaks and whatever that George Lucas has done to the original film, and all the inferior prequels, that the universe still manages to be so exciting and cool and endures."

Simon and Jessica Hynes have all but ruled out a return to Spaced - but would you come back if they wrote some more episodes?
"Yeah, of course I would. I was only in two episodes, and I was in episode one for a tiny little bit as well, but I would love to. It's one of my most favourite things. My most favourite character I've played is Duane. Of course I'd love to do that."



Do you know what role you'll have in the Arrested Development movie yet?
"I don't know what I'll be doing in it. The last I heard from Mitch [Hurwitz] is that he's writing a part for me in the movie, and that's all I know really. I'm so excited that it's going ahead. I'm also a bit scared because it's one of the best comedy series ever - maybe it's the best US comedy ever made - and I'd hate to be the ingredient that ruined it. 'Why is that guy in it - he's awful!'"

What do you like so much about the show?
"I just love that it did its own thing. All the best things have a very definite style to them and it wasn't trying to be anything else. It wasn't trying to be like Seinfeld.

"It's its own genre of show and people have copied it and taken elements from it, but it's a weirdly indefinable show. One of the things I love about Arrested Development is that you can take any line of dialogue from it and it's a quotable line - it's a really quotable, funny line. It's incredible."

You're a frequent Twitter user - what is it you love about the medium?
"I'm a huge fan. Again like Arrested Development, it's a weird thing that you can't really define. It's different for everybody that uses it. Everybody uses it in a unique way and people experience it in a unique way. I use it for lots and lots of different things.

"One of the ways I use it is as a kind of joke valve. Jokes that I think of which normally would clog off a certain lobe of my brain, I have an outlet for them now. Also I can try things out and I get an immediate response. The thing comedians generally crave is approval. You get instant approval - it's like doing a stand-up gig by mail!"

Do you get annoyed by people using it to steal your jokes?
"I'm in a position where I have a sufficiently large following that if somebody re-appropriates one of my jokes I'll find out about it instantly. If it's just a regular person I don't mind. I don't care at all.

"If it's a comedy account that is set up... I just politely send them a thing to my original joke and it's fine... It's not a problem with me. I don't know if it really happens that much. It certainly doesn't happen that much to me - maybe my jokes aren't very good!

"It's such a great thing for writing jokes. It really makes you hone them and pare them down to the shortest they can possibly be. I'm bringing out a joke book next year that's being published by Macmillan, the title for it at the moment is The Funniest Book in the World: Volume One."

Your BBC show came off the back of your O News videos - can up-and-coming comedians make their own shows to get attention in the same way?
"Certainly, yeah. If you have a phone you've got something that is a recording studio, a video camera. I've got an iPhone and you can edit stuff on it. It's ridiculous. You've got the means to produce stuff and also with the internet it's got an audience of billions, instantly.

"It's a really exciting time if you're a young funny person. And Twitter's a great place for spotting funny people. There are lots of people that I follow on Twitter who certainly don't have any kind of profile at all but who are extremely, extremely funny and I'm sure in the future will have a huge profile."



You've been on This Is Jinsy - how different is doing comedy on Sky than the BBC?
"The head of comedy there is Lucy Lumsden who used to be at the BBC and commissioned my sketch show. The only thing that's different is that they want to make new comedy, and I'm trying to develop something with them at the moment that's pretty exciting. So we'll see."

You're best known for your TV work, but are movies where your heart is really at?
"I don't know. It's certainly the most exciting thing... as an actor it's the most thrilling thing that you could possibly do. I'm into it all really, but a film has a sort of permanence to it.

"There's something that feels inherently more important about film than television. Even a bad film is still a film. People go and see it in a darkened room on a huge screen, which is something weird about that experience."

Peter Serafinowicz hosts the Orange Film To Go 'Film Night Live' chat show. To hear his take on this week's movie, Cats and Dogs, listen to the podcast now on Facebook.com/orangefilmclub

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