A British crime thriller set around the world of smash-and-grab gangs who target upmarket jewellers opened last week. Deborah Cicurel spoke to its leading actors – Jewish boys from north London.
Perhaps the last thing you’d ever expect to see two nice Jewish boys doing would be pulling off a terrifying jewellery heist. Yet both Gregg Sulkin and Josh Myers – young Jewish actors, one from Edgware, the other from St John’s Wood – look perfectly at home as audacious criminals in their latest film, Anti-Social.
Reg Traviss’ ambitious new movie is fast-paced, intense and eye-opening, recreating the behind-the-scenes drama of pulling off multi-million pound robberies in locations that will be familiar to Londoners: Brent Cross, Selfridges and Bond Street. At the centre of the drama are two brothers: Dee, played by Sulkin, a dreamy, arty rebel with a talent for graffiti, and Marcus, played by Myers, a terrifying gang member with a double personality.
But how do two boys on the right side of the law develop an interest in playing such wanted criminals? “Before making the film, I was very interested in robberies and heists, as I would always wonder how the people doing the robberies plan it and often get away with the crime,” Myers says.
For Sulkin, who viewers may remember as the bespectacled, toothy, cute-as-a-button Bernie Reubens from Sixty Six – the 2006 movie about a boy whose barmitzvah was the same day as the 1966 World Cup Final, it seems crime has always intrigued him.
“I secretly wanted to be a detective growing up and I wanted to do something with an edge and tackle a character I’ve never played before,” he explains.
The north London Jewish world is small, but Sulkin and Myers had not met before starting work on Anti-Social. However, the chemistry between the two is clear, and it extends beyond the red carpet appearances, onscreen hugs and IMDB credits – Myers says the pair have “become great friends and talk all the time.
“I think we got on really well on-screen because we spent a lot of time getting to know each other on and off set,” Myers says. “We had a lot in common so we just clicked straight away and were always making each other laugh.”
Sulkin’s praise of his co-star is equally abundant: “Josh is the man. He really is like my older brother and I couldn’t have wished for a more loving and caring person to share this experience with. We had chemistry, and looked out for each other,” he adds.
Anti-Social is alive with gunshots, screams and the sounds of glass smashing – this is not one to watch if you’re easily scared.
Looking at their on-screen personas, it’s hard to believe the boys don’t usually mix in criminal circles – Myers especially is frighteningly convincing as a small-time gangster. “I wouldn’t say it came naturally to me as such, but I just knew how to act like one,” he says. “I did watch certain films to see how criminals act and go about their business.”
But the boys didn’t just pick up tips on cocking guns and learning how to punch people on their acting gig – Sulkin learnt how to graffiti from a professional, a fact he describes as “a cool part about landing this job”. Myers is even more effusive about his experience making the violent film, saying: “It was such a great experience and I loved every minute.”
Yet despite the flashing of cash, the fast cars and the pretty girls, both actors feel the film does not glamourise violence.
“Some of the characters have a big price to pay for their criminal activity, which people will see when they watch the film,” Myers says.
While Sulkin is quite the famous face, perhaps best known for his MTV show Faking It, Myers’ career is younger – but he sounds refreshingly grounded about his career.
“If I hadn’t become an actor, I would have stayed a barber, which I still sometimes do on the side when I am not acting so I always have money coming in,” he says. “I think you must always have a job to fall back on.”
It is clear that both young men have an exciting future ahead of them, miles away from the lives of the gangsters they play in the film – but both of them carry their family roots with them every day.
“I had my barmitzvah in Israel by the Western Wall so being Jewish was always an important part of my family life,” Sulkin says, while Myers cites his father and grandfather as huge inspirations going into the film business.
“I just knew from a young age that this is what I wanted to do,” Myers says. “I wanted to make my grandfather proud of me as before he died, he said to me: ‘Never give up and you will make it.’ I’m glad I listened to him and wish he was still around now to see how far I have come as I know he would be so proud of me.”
Anti-Social is showing in cinemas nationwide