Actor Robert Sheehan on 9/11 and the Time He Got A Big Foot Wart
"My mate Joe had athlete’s foot years ago and told me that if he put the hot shower on it, he felt like he was being sucked off by an angel. I now know the feeling."
(Photos by Alexander McLuckie)
I’m still biding my time for the right moment to plunge into the E4 series Misfits, which first aired back in 2009. It’s meant to be very good, and by all accounts Robert Sheehan – the now 31-year-old actor who received a BAFTA nomination for his role as Nathan Young back then – is in it. If, like me, you have never seen a single second of Misfits, Robert is the cute Irish one with curly hair.
Since then, he’s been busy, starring in a bunch of TV shows and movies including a film called Cherrybomb, in which he and Rupert Grint get smashed on a load of drugs and steal some cars before beating James Nesbitt to death with a pole. Today though, Robert Sheehan isn’t doing any of those things. Instead, he’s stationed in a suite at a swanky London hotel, promoting his new Netflix series The Umbrella Academy. I’ve not seen The Umbrella Academy yet either, but I am a professional and as such don’t let things like that stand between me and the answers – this is the VICE Interview, after all.
VICE: So, Robert. How many times have you shit yourself since you got to the age where it’s not OK to shit yourself?
Robert Sheehan: Only once. I was in secondary school and my stomach was making all sorts of noises. I put up my hand and asked if I could go to the toilet, and as I was walking through the yard I walked past my friend Kieron. I waved at him and shouted: “Alright Kieron” and boom, explosions. I hobbled to the bathroom and tried to clean myself up as best as possible and then got my mum to come and pick me up. She was very gracious.
What was your worst phase?
When I was 16. I was filming this TV series an hour outside of Vancouver, in this perpetual housing estate called Maple Ridge. I was so young that I needed a guardian, so wound up spending six months in this cookie-cutter house in the middle of nowhere with this family who were very much busy with their own lives. I became this weird exchange kid with a tutor. I was desperately lonely and unhappy. But hey, maybe I was cultivating a poetic soul?
How many books have you read and finished in the last year? Don’t lie.
I actually keep a list of the books I read on my phone, otherwise I forget. Let’s see… eight. 1984 by Orwell is great. The Undoing Project by Michael Lewis was interesting, then Crime and Punishment by Dostoevsky, Kafka’s Collected Short Stories, The Gospel According to Blindboy, Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, Beatlebone by Kevin Barry, which was shite, and Calypso by David Sedaris. My favourite was 1984, because of the profound terror it inspired in my heart and soul.
What conspiracy theory do you believe in?
That 9/11 was a cover up by the American government.
I honestly believe that. They did that to themselves to encourage the American people to get behind them to go and steal loads of people’s oil in the Middle East. I’m certain.
Who’s the worst celebrity you’ve ever met?
John Hurt was pretty bad. I know it’s pretty terrible to besmirch the memory of a dead man, but he was really rude to me. I was in a bar in Soho with Ron Perlman – talk about a Hollywood story, baby! – as we’d just watched this film we were both in called Season of the Witch and, well, I was assured John Hurt was very nice when he was sober, but he was going through a period when he was drinking wine. Ron was going for dinner with him and he invited me and a friend to join. We all sat down with John, and then he was fucking horrible to me. I don’t want to tell you the details though, because he’s dead.
What would your last meal be on Death Row?
Kate*: Ooh, I love this question! I’ve thought about it a lot. For me, I’d have to say it depends on the time of day. If it was breakfast, I’d have a full English – it wouldn’t matter if I was bloated because I’d be dead soon anyway! But the absolute best time of day for me would be 4PM, because then you could have afternoon tea and champagne and English breakfast tea.
Robert: I’d say sushi, probably. I’m always going on about how I could just eat Japanese food and nothing else until the day I die. But I think I’d have to have Dom Pérignon – like, the poshest of champagnes – and loads of sashimi.
If you were a wrestler, what song would you walk into the ring to?
I’d choose something really un-wrestly just to mess with people. Everyone else would be picking AC/DC and I’d pick something old and warbly. I’d also wear a yellowing ball gown so I looked like Miss Havisham from Great Expectations.
What’s the grossest illness or injury you’ve ever had?
When we were shooting The Umbrella Academy I got this little warty thing on the sole of my foot and didn’t know what it was. I ended up googling it, and read that if you pop a little bit of tea tree oil on stuff like that, it can shrink it away. I started getting a cotton swab and really putting the oil on there. Turns out all I was doing was spreading it around, so it just got bigger and bigger until it was about, I don’t know, two and a half or three inches in radius?
That’s really big.
It was fucking huge and fucking disgusting. Eventually, the doctor came onto set and I told him about this thing on my foot. He said I should have come to him sooner, put some cream on and it was gone after three days. It was disgusting but it was also really pleasurable; I kind of miss it. When you scratch something like that your body releases histamine, which feels amazing. My mate Joe had athlete’s foot years ago and told me that if he put the hot shower on it, he felt like he was being sucked off by an angel. I now know the feeling.
*I’m not 100 percent sure who Kate is, but she was very lovely, and sat with us throughout the interview
The Umbrella Academy is available on Netflix from Friday the 15th of February.