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by dr andrew cousins

Vinnie Savage

Vinnie Savage began his life as a professional football player. His reputation as "the hard man of British football" meant that he was rarely out of the headlines. Then five years ago, Guy Ritchie cast him as "Hardcase" McHard in ‘Four Gunfights and a Funeral’. He had never acted before but made an immediate impact on screen. Hollywood is now knocking on his door. I went to talk to the man who once punched John Motson and made Des Lynam cry like a girl.

AC: Vinnie, I believe that you’ve just got back from Hollywood?

VS: Yeah. I got off the plane this morning. I’ve been in LA doing some promotional stuff for my new movie.

That would be for ‘Protracted Car Chase’? Could you tell us a little about the film?

It’s about two rival gangs of car thieves. I play "Mute". He’s the mechanic that fixes the cars up once they’ve been stolen.


Yeah. My character can’t talk. It saves learning any lines.

I suppose so. Some critics have said it’s more to do with a complete lack of acting skills on your part. How do you react to that?

The same way I reacted when Paul Gascoigne fouled me back in 1989.

And how was that?

I squeezed his nuts until he screamed.

So you can act. Is that what you’re saying?

If I can’t act why do you think Jerry Bruckheimer is so keen to get me into his next movie? He’d hardly put me in the same film as Keanu Reeves and Elisabeth Hurley if he didn’t think I could pull it off would he?

Er, no. Quite.

People said exactly the same thing when I did Guy Ritchie’s first film. "Oh, he’s a footballer. He can’t act." Well I did and I won an Empire Magazine Readers Award.

Yes. "Best Performance by a Former Footballer"

You having a pop?

Erm, how did you approach your first screen role?

First, I went to Michael Caine and asked him his advice.

And what did he say?

He took me into his living room. The first thing he did was to point at the furniture. "See that," he said. "Jaws IV". Then he pointed out the window at his swimming pool. "That was Educating Rita. And Miss Congeniality paid for the extension round the back. The point is Vinnie — take the money and run"

So he didn’t actually give you any acting tips?

No. I forgot to ask him about that.

The character you played, "Hardcase" McHard, was a very tough character wasn’t he? Some people have accused you of simply cashing in on your own reputation as a bit of a hard man. I take it that you’d refute that?

I would if I knew what you were talking about. People have accused me in the past of being a bit handy. You know what I mean?

Not really no.

You know — a bit tasty.

No. That’s not really helping.

I can look after myself, right?

Well you are a fully-grown adult so I’d hope that you could.

You’re heading for a slap my son.

You’ve got a house in LA now. What’s it like living there?

It’s a world apart from Hackney where I come from. I’ve got a massive house with a massive swimming pool and a massive garden. Lovely. If I want I can head out onto the freeway in my massive car. But I’m still a working class boy at heart, right? I’m still in touch with my roots. I still drink in my local pub — I had it shipped out and rebuilt at the end of my garden. Nice one.

It has tarnished your reputation a bit though surely?

No, my name’s Vinnie. My reputation is the same as it’s always been.

Even though you’re wearing designer clothes and have manicures now?

First things first. One — the Krays wore designer clothes and they were hard as nails. Two — I may have a manicure but I made sure I nutted the beautician before I left. I don’t want people thinking I’ve gone soft. Word spreads quickly in this town. In 1982 somebody saw Burt Reynolds weeding his own garden. Within three days he couldn’t get any work. Hollywood is a pretty unforgiving place.

I suppose you see quite a lot of Guy Ritchie and Madonna?

Quite a bit. We sometimes do the pub quiz at my local. Madonna’s pop knowledge leaves a bit to be desired but she knows a surprising amount about the history of the FA Cup. She even explained the offside rule to me.

Shouldn’t you have known about that already? You did used to be a professional footballer after all.

I never needed to. No referee in their right mind would ever book me.

Do you miss football?

Yes and no. Football used to be a way for me to vent my frustration. I could blow off my aggression on the pitch. Now I have to find a new outlet.

And have you managed to do that?

Yeah. Once a week I go and kick kittens around in the garage.

So what films have you got coming up in the near future then?

I’m doing a Farrelly brothers film called ‘That’s My Turd!’. It’s a romantic comedy set on a sewage farm. That should be a lot of fun. I play the bodyguard of an evil toilet paper magnate who plans to give the world permanent diarrhoea. It’s a very intelligent script. I haven’t got any dialogue in it because my character was born without a mouth. I do hit a lot of people though. It’s what I do best.

Vinnie Savage — thank you.

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