English actor Nick Frost — who is perhaps best known in the U.S. as Simon Pegg’s sidekick in “Shaun of the Dead,” “Hot Fuzz” and “The World’s End” — has his name above the title in “Cuban Fury.”
The highly enjoyable comedy, which opens today, is about a man who rediscovers salsa dancing — and himself.
Though he did not write the movie, Frost gets credit for the original idea. While visiting The City recently, he explains how it came about.
“I had the idea for ages, and I never told anyone,” he says. “I never told Simon or my wife. It was a dirty little secret. It was like I dressed in women’s clothing when my wife went out.”
One night, after a party, Frost drunkenly wrote an email to producer Nira Park, outlining the movie.
“I woke up the next morning, and thought, ‘Oh no!’ But, like the Zodiac, I probably wanted to get caught,” he says.
Frost says he was always a good dancer and, at age 16, even was asked to dance in a cage at a nightclub. “If I shut my eyes, I can still see the look on my parents’ faces when I told them,” he says. He had to turn down the job.
Yet salsa dancing was new to the stocky actor, who underwent seven months of training with several teachers to prepare for the film.
“It’s an odd thing, kind of being a big lump and people assume you’re always out of breath,” he says, mentioning that Robert Charlemagne was the instructor he admired most.
“They got Robert, who is a big man, to show me that it wasn’t all about how you looked and the shape of you,” he continues. “And that man was like a Jedi when it came to salsa. His lead was so definite and perfect that women couldn’t resist his movements. But he was a gentleman, and they loved it.”
Being the lead, and a proficient dancer, Frost realized his character would not be getting many of the movie’s laughs. Kayvan Novak, playing a helpful amateur salsa dancer, is the scene stealer.
“I’ve always been in that position,” says Frost, “but when you become a lead, you’re rarely the funniest person in the film. And it takes something to be able to step back. You just have to know in your heart that it’s good for the film.”
IF YOU GO
Starring Nick Frost, Rashida Jones, Chris O’Dowd, Ian McShane
Written by Jon Brown
Directed by James Griffiths