How We Met: Nick Frost & Bill Nighy

'He has a fear of being "found out" – it's something I've always worried about too'

Nick Frost, 38

As an actor, Frost is best known for his roles in the award-winning TV series 'Spaced', the critically acclaimed films 'Shaun of the Dead' and 'Hot Fuzz' and last year's Martin Amis adaptation 'Money'. He lives in south London with his partner

I've never been in awe of film stars – it's just their job – so when I first met Bill, on the set of Shaun of the Dead [Frost's first film role] in 2004, I just chatted to him like a mate, which set the tone, I think.

It was while we were filming The Boat that Rocked two years ago that we reached a tipping point in our friendship. Bill's character runs this pirate-radio station in the 1960s. One day I went up to [the director] Richard Curtis and quietly said, "Richard, I don't want anyone to know, but I've never heard anything from the Rolling Stones." So he bellows out to Bill, who is a Stones fanatic, "Bill, come here!" and they went to town on me with the teasing. Bill made me buy loads of their albums, and we connected over that.

Now we operate a musical exchange. Bill will say, "Listen to this track by [the 1960s rock band] the Yardbirds," and I'll play him some pumping hard-house track by Andy Whitby. When I paint a picture to him of dancing for 12 hours in an orgy of house music and poppers, I think he understands the feeling – it would have been like him going to a Hendrix gig.

These past 12 years my career has been like an apprenticeship, and Bill has been the perfect person for me to watch: he's a gentleman on set, making it his job to know everyone, from accountants to the grips; and the way he delivers his lines, he makes it look effortless. So I quietly keep my eye on him and there is an element of student-teacher dynamic, but I'd never let him know that. Instead I'll come up to him after a take and say, "I see what you did there, but why don't you just knock about 90 per cent off?" He never overacts, though; I just like teasing him.

We discovered a mutual love of food, so we set up a bi-monthly lunch club. We've been to Noma, in Copenhagen, which was beautiful, and most recently we visited Bar Boulud at the Mandarin Oriental in Knightsbridge. They brought out these platters including pig's head cheese, and I thought, "I'm not eating that." But Bill's adventurous, and dived straight in, so I had to try it too, and I have to admit, it tasted amazing.

Bill Nighy, 61

A prolific stage and screen actor, Nighy's portrayal of ageing rocker Billy Mack in the 2003 film 'Love Actually' catapulted him to international stardom, his subsequent films taking in hits from the 'Pirates of the Caribbean' franchise to 'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows'. He lives in London

In Shaun of the Dead, my largest part was to bleed to death in the back of a Jaguar. It involved a foot pump with a tube going up my trouser leg and shirt, pumping sticky fake blood all over my neck and down my clothes, for three days straight, during one of the hottest summers in memory. And Nick just made me laugh. There were six of us in the car, and it could have been terrible, but he made it pleasurable.

After Shaun, he continued to call and text and it became plain we'd developed something beyond the gig, which was unexpected, as I'm always surprised if a friendship emerges with another actor. It wasn't until The Boat that Rocked that I discovered what a musical weirdo he is. He claimed never to have heard a Stones record, which I thought was said just to taunt me, as I'm a huge fan, but it turned out to be true. He likes that deep Euro death-trance-dance-house; wordless machine music. I'm not a closed mind, though, and he's promised to make me a mix tape as a primer to his world.

As a rule, I dislike travelling with other people, but Nick is an adorable companion. On a trip to promote The Boat that Rocked, he developed a constant comedy limp in public, just for me, to cheer me up. He'd walk across a hotel lobby with a hobble, the like of which you've never seen before, with people looking on in shock. He limped all over Australia, Germany and Holland.

With acting, it's not a question of age or experience; people like Nick come ready-made, so he needs no instruction from me. If anything, I try to pick up tips from him on how to be amusing. While he has a fear of being "found out", it's something I've always worried about too, of being tapped on the shoulder with someone saying, "What the hell are you doing?"

We made a trip for Comic Relief last year to a 2,500-acre toxic rubbish dump in Kenya, where kids have to compete with wild pigs to find rotting food; it's hell. I've done a couple of trips with Oxfam, but this was the worst I'd ever seen. It was Nick's first, though, and as a very compassionate bloke, it took his breath away. When you share something like that – so outside your usual experience – it makes you closer and it's enriched our association.

'Paul' (15), a sci-fi comedy starring Frost, is in cinemas from tomorrow

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Recruitment Genius: HR Manager

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are in need of a HR Manage...

h2 Recruit Ltd: Business Development Manager - HR Consultancy - £65,000 OTE

£35000 - £40000 per annum + £65,000 OTE: h2 Recruit Ltd: London, Birmingham, M...

Day In a Page

Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there