Eating and Acting

From The Paris Review:

The-trip_BLOG The British actors Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon met for dinner recently at an Italian restaurant in New York. As a plate of cheese and meat was passed around the table, Brydon, who was wearing a pink shirt, grabbed his midsection and sighed. “I’ve gained so much weight, and I haven’t been able to shift it,” he said. “It makes me so mad.” The men were in town because their new film, The Trip, was playing at the Tribeca Film Festival. In The Trip, Coogan and Brydon play slightly fictionalized versions of themselves and drive around England’s Lake District reviewing restaurants for The Observer. (The film originally aired as a six-part series on the BBC.) During filming, the men ate each meal three times, to allow for different camera setups. “Steve was smart,” Brydon said. “He just pushed the food around his plate. But I ate everything. Eating makes you a better actor because it distracts part of your brain. It’s like driving—if you’re eating or driving, you’re doing something real, so the acting seems more real, too.” (Much of The Trip takes place on the road, but Coogan did all the driving.)

…Part of the joke of the film is that neither man knows very much nor particularly cares about food or wine, as evidenced at the first stop, The Inn at Whitewell, where Coogan, struggling to describe his tomato soup, says, “Well … it tastes of tomatoes.” Later, at Holbeck Ghyll in Windmere, Brydon approves a Premiere Cru—“premiere: first, the best”—before getting stuck on what cru means. At the Michelin-starred L’Enclume in Cumbria (“a duck-fat lolly? Why not?”), Coogan declares their appetizer of manioc leaf liquor topped with a ginger whiskey fizz has the consistency of snot—albeit snot that “tastes great.” “I hate what I call the dot-dot-dot people, where they put the sauce around the plate, dot, dot, dot,” Coogan said, cutting his roast chicken entrée. He was also wearing a pink shirt. “It’s like, put the fucking sauce on. I like simple dishes, well cooked. I don’t like overly fussy-tasting menus. The one really great thing I ate was at Kiplin Hall, in Yorkshire, this forced rhurbarb dessert. It’s grown in the dark, so it’s very pink—it’s kind of the veal of vegetables. If you can have vegetable cruelty, this is it. But it was so good. I ate three of those, and I want to go back for more. I think of it at night, when I’m lonely.”

More here.