The VICE Interview: Craig Roberts
The 'Submarine' actor talks Eminem, beer and peeing in the shower.
Craig Roberts portrait by Tom Wood
Those of you who watched CBBC every day after school in the mid-2000s will most definitely have first seen Welsh actor Craig Roberts as bad boy foster kid Rio Wellard in The Story of Tracy Beaker. For those who lived a different life from mine, Roberts' breakout role was Oliver Tate in Richard Ayoade's coming-of-age comedy Submarine (2010). He's done a lot since then, appearing in Bad Neighbours (2014), The Fundamentals of Caring (2016) and Just Jim (2015), which he also wrote and directed. His next project will be the third and final season of Amazon's 1980s comedy Red Oaks, which airs later this year.
I gave Craig a call to talk about him being Wales' leading Eminem expert and some other less important stuff.
VICE: How often do you lie when you're answering interview questions?
Craig Roberts: Probably most of the time, I'd imagine, because you're always trying to come off as a better version of yourself in interviews. You try to sound more interesting, and I have to do a lot of lying to get to that level. In life I lie quite a lot as well. All of my answers are going to be lies.
How long do you think you'd last in space?
Space as in any kind of space, or space as in outer space? Because I don't like any kind of space. Outer space, kind of well, I think. The isolation would be good to me; I like being alone quite a lot with my own thoughts. I'd say a year would be good for me.
What conspiracy theory do you believe?
This is a perfect platform to sound paranoid. I'm interested in most conspiracy theories. I don't know how many I believe. I'd like to believe that Stanley Kubrick shot the moon landing. I kind of believe that society is kind of controlled in some way, I suppose, like what TV we watch and what's projected at us – as if we live in this almost dystopian Truman Show world, seeing other people live their lives on reality TV shows where they're just kind of not going anywhere. It feels slightly nihilistic. But yeah, in the fear of sounding like Kurt Cobain, not many.
What would your specialist subject be on Mastermind?
Eminem. Probably Eminem, I think. I'm obsessed. I've been obsessed for a while; I'm that kid that never grew out of Eminem when he hit 18 and should've gotten into The Smiths and stuff. But no, I just carried on listening to really aggressive music – not taking it literally; I just enjoy his music, I think he's very good. He released an album like three years ago – it was very angry, bless him. He must be going through something.
What was your very first email address?
It was actually EM1NEM, I think, which is not very interesting. I'm not doing very well at the lying bit.
Why did you break up with your very first girlfriend?
Probably because I was very immature and not able to deal with it. You can always deal with situations in a better way. In relationships it's never easy to do that at the time. It's almost like painting a painting blindfolded and then you kind of take the blindfold off and you're like, "I could have probably done that a little better."
What memory from school stands out to you the most?
Wanting to finish it. That weird thing where you're at that age full of angst and your parents constantly tell you to enjoy it because you'll miss it when you're out of it, and it's so true. But school never prepares you for the real world. It prepares you for stuff like algebra, which I've never used in my life. I'd love to go to school now at my age, now that I've grown in some kind of way. I tried to be cool, but that's the lesson of school, I feel. You try to be somebody you're completely not, when in actual fact if you actually embrace who you are in school, you'll probably be a lot cooler.
What was your worst phase growing up?
Probably the one I'm still in, the Eminem phase. It's a terrible phase to be in. You release the information that you're an Eminem fan and people go, "Come on. Do you also support Donald Trump?" It's a very weird thing to like because he's so wrong in every way, really. I think that's why he's less relevant now, because when he first came out he was controversial for the sake of being controversial – I don't actually believe that he would kill somebody. Now it just doesn't really resonate with anybody; nobody really wants to hear that any more; they're turning a blind eye to it. So the fact that I'm like, "Yeah, no, he's still good!" people are like, "Stop talking, Craig, we don't want to hear it." I just know a lot of information about it. It's not because of my infatuation with how good he is. But no, I don't listen to him that much now. All I really listen to is Radiohead.
If you could live in any period of history, which would you pick?
Probably around when I was born. I wouldn't go to the 20s or anything. Maybe the 70s; there were a lot of good films released that I would like to go and see when they came out. When I was born Beauty and the Beast was released, and I remember watching that for the first time, so I'd probably go back to around then, if any time. Future, no, because the future is just going to be crazy, I feel. Humans are just not going to like each other.
When in your life have you been truly overcome with fear?
Quite often, to be honest. I suffer with anxiety to a certain level, so any kind of big groups are kind of hard to deal with. There are days sometimes when I wake up in fear and have to tackle it and be totally removed from myself and not able to go on with the day. I bring it on myself – I drink a lot of coffee and smoke cigarettes.
Would you have sex with a robot?
I think that's very dark. Would I know that it's a robot or is it like Westworld where I have to figure it out? No. Definitely not. No, no, no, because that just, for me, implies that that robot is going to be excellent at sex, and nobody ever wants to have sex with somebody that's excellent. You want sex with somebody that's just good so you feel OK about yourself.
If you were a wrestler, what song would you come into the ring to?
There's a few. Probably the song in Aladdin, where he's like [sings] "Prince Ali / Mighty is he." Or maybe something really off-putting, like "Tale as Old as Time" from Beauty and the Beast. Something to really make people feel uncomfortable at a wrestling event. Probably something really light, or really unsettling, or emo music. Go against the grain, you know. I was into wrestling a lot and I actually believed it was real for a while. Then I was devastated, so yeah. Fuck wrestling.
What have you done in your life that you most regret?
I most regret learning what the word anxiety means, because before that I didn't know what it was and I just thought I drank too much coffee as opposed to it being actually me. What else do I regret? There's a long list. I regret picking up the phone to you. No, there's no point regretting anything to a certain degree. It is what it is.
How do you think you will die?
Fucking hell! I'm just going to light up a cigarette. No, that was irony. I don't know. I hope I'm fucking old and with somebody and in my sleep. But how will I die? Probably through anxiety. I will worry myself to death.
How many drinks do you have before you're falling over drunk?
Depends what I drink. Whiskey is fine – it just mellows me out and I need to sleep. I suppose if I drink any kind of beer, about five, then I'm not good to be around. I don't know who is after you put five pints of poison in you. I'm stumbling around and telling people how much I like them or hate them.
And finally, weeing in the shower – yes or no?
Yeah, sure. If you want to, that's up to you. I don't really mind. I mean, would I pee in the shower? I don't know. I'm not opposed to it. That was a good one to end on.
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