Interview: Paddy Considine, actor

THE day I meet Paddy Considine, there are rumours circulating that he will be doing interviews for his new film Le Donk & Scor-Zay-Zee in character. That would be something: the character in question is Le Donk, a rowdy roadie he first invented when he was at college with Shane Meadows, his film-maker friend who launched him in 1999's A Room For Romeo Brass.

Fortunately, when Considine, a wiry-looking Midlander, arrives, he's minus Le Donk's long hair, beanie cap and cocksure attitude. And even he seems relieved at this. "It's pure possession when that guy moves into thehouse,"hesays. "It's all improvised, too. I don't even knowwhere it comes from. I don't."

This is no actor spiel. Famed for the intensity of his performances – not least as a vengeful brother in Meadows' Dead Man's Shoes and a born-again Christian in Pawel Pawlikowski's My Summer of Love – it's no surprise to hear that Considine, 35, goes just as deep for a comic creation. First seen on the DVD extras of Meadows' Once Upon a Time In The Midlands, where Le Donk gives a break dancing masterclass, he was in fact the star of several short films the two men made in the early 1990s, before either were famous. Meadows goes as far as claiming that Steve Coogan, who worked with Considine on 24 Hour Party People, saw the shorts – and along came his own roadie sitcom, Saxondale.

Considine was raised in a working-class family with six brothers and sisters in Winshill, just outside Burton-on-Trent, and says that characters from his past inspired the creation of Le Donk – in particular, when he met Meadows at Burton College when they both enrolled in a performing arts course.

Neither completed it, but they did form the group She Talks To Angels (named after a Black Crowes song), with Meadows on vocals and Considine on drums. "There's always someone there, a Svengali who says, 'Come and be on my label,' and they want to do everything for you," says Considine. "I don't know – life has been littered with characters like Le Donk really."

Like a lo-fi This Is Spinal Tap, the film is styled as a rockumentary, with appearances from Meadows and Mark Herbert, the head of Le Donk's backers Warp Films, blurring fiction and reality. Such as it is, the plot sees Le Donk set out to promote real-life rapper Scor-Zay-Zee (aka 25-year-old Nottingham lad Dean Palinczuk) after he comes to the crushing realisation that he has no discernible talent of his own. Yet somehow, in his own shambolic way, Le Donk manages to get his protg to open for the Arctic Monkeys, in a scene shot at the Old Trafford cricket ground, where the band played a gig back in 2007, in front of 50,000 bemused extras.

This relationship with the UK's band of the moment came about after Considine did a video for the Arctic Monkeys song Leave Before The Lights Come On. It came in the midst of what might be considered his Hollywood period, when he was courted by Russell Crowe for boxing saga Cinderella Man and later played a journalist opposite Matt Damon in The Bourne Ultimatum. "I wasn't keen on doing videos," he says, "but I hadn't worked in a while and I wanted something to do. So I had an idea for a video in my head, and I just re-wrote it and sent it, and it ended up being the video."

From here, he got to know the band – "I think they were fans of Romeo Brass and Dead Man's Shoes," he says, casually – and before you know it, Considine came to their 2007 gig in character. "They didn't know what was going on. They didn't know what we were doing. And that's the thing you've got to remember. I don't think I consider how strange it must be for other people, when I just turn up in a wig and go, 'Yeah, fookin' sound!' I don't realise how full-on it is. And I think, 'What's up with people? Why don't they get on board?' It's strange for them. It must be a bit weird, having some dude turn up, full-on."

Indeed, later that night, I get to see Considine in full flow, when he turns up in character at Edinburgh's St Peter's Church Hall, at the film's low-key after-premiere party. On stage with Scor-Zay-Zee, he performs their rap Calm Down, which also concludes the film. Inspired by Jamie T's song Calm Down Dearest, Considine started with the line "Calm Down Deirdre Barlow" and never looked back. Everyone from Stephen Hawking, Harold Shipman, Edith Bowman and Meadows' local ice-cream man, Mr Licky, is name-checked in the song.

"I remember sitting up until two in the morning, and we were in the bar with the Arctic Monkeys just throwing names around," he explains. "The ones that weren't funny, they contributed."

Shot in just five days, costing a measly 48,000, Le Donk was completed with money put in by Meadows, Considine and Herbert. "We own everything on this film. We went to a few people to begin with and nobody came on board. They all want the same process. I know that it's loose and I know that it's a bit bananas, this film. But the point is I get tired of this development thing, where people want to see 20 drafts (of a script]. I'm tired of that, and Le Donk is a reaction to that." This frustration stems in part from his stalled attempts to expand his 2007 Bafta-winning short Dog Altogether, which starred Peter Mullan, into a feature. "Le Donk has made me realise that if I have to shoot it for 20 grand, then I'll do it. I'm a bit tired of sitting around waiting for people to tell me what I can and can't do."

At this point Considine is getting riled, his voice rising and eyes blazing, as he starts to rant about the "cyber critics" who lambasted him and Meadows for making a 70-minute movie like Le Donk. "Believe me, there ain't a ladder," he spits. "The Bourne Ultimatum isn't a creatively fulfilling experience. It was a great experience but you don't walk away creatively (fulfilled] – well, I don't. And the assumption is you're on this ladder to ascension, and you're heading somewhere in your career. It doesn't work like that. I've been in these big films, and you know what? I'm still sat on my arse. And it's not because I'm not willing to play the game."

He points out that he didn't work for eight months after completing his last role, a cop investigating the Yorkshire Ripper murders in Channel 4's acclaimed Red Riding trilogy. Never mind that it was "critically this, that and the other", as he puts it, the work just dried up. He took on Blitz – a cop film starring Jason Statham – partly to make ends meet. Considine has a wife of seven years, Shelley, whom he's known since he was 18, and a young son, Joseph, to look after. "She's been with me since day one, when I had a hole in my f***ing boots," he says. "I love having a family and a wife, and I love having that with me. I find it gives me a bit of strength, y'know?"

Acting aside, Considine also fronts a band, Riding The Low. After forming their own label, Clinical Finish, they will be releasing their first EP, They Will Rob You Of Your Gifts, in November.

"It's totally influenced by that 90s lo-fi stuff, like Guided By Voices," he notes. "It is a bit rock'n'roll and what have you. But we're an English band with an American f***ing conceit. Trouble is, we go into the studio and record and we come out sounding like Oasis, and it's not what we want." With Riding The Low sounding like a musical version of Le Donk, Considine is evidently not afraid just to get stuck in and give things a go.

A former photographer, Considine used to snap fighters at a local boxing club, and is still hoping to make King Of The Gypsies, his long-gestating project with Meadows about bare-knuckle fighter Bartley Gorman. As for the rest, he seems quite happy to avoid fame and fortune. "I'm not an actor who needs to be loved. I do my work and leave it out there," he says. "I keep myself out the way. I live in the Midlands. I'm married. I've got a kid. I'm not running around clubs banging everything that moves. I'm pretty settled in my life. There's nothing more I want – only more kids."

• Le Donk & Scor-Zay-Zee is in cinemas from 9 October and will be released on DVD on 26 October. Riding The Low's debut EP, They Will Rob You Of Your Gifts, is released on 9 November on Clinical Finish records