The Escapist and Bronson did wonders for the reputation of British prison movies, but it’s been a little while since they were bulling their way around on screen.
Loaded with DIY weapons, prison slang and homoerotic menace, Screwed is out tomorrow, attempting to turn this oddly long-living genre on its head by showing prison life through the eyes of the guards. In the film James D’Arcy (Master And Commander) plays Sam an English everyman forced to take a job as a prison officer on his return from a traumatic tour of duty in Iraq. Soon Sam realises that the watchmen may be as corrupt as the prisoners they’re paid to watch and becomes embroiled in a potentially deadly game of cat-and-mouse against the background of a full-scale cellblock riot. Noel Clarke also stars in the film as Truman, the nasty inmate who rules the prison from behind bars.
Out of nowhere, Clarke has risen to become one of the most talked about actors in the British film industry, even if his reputation hasn’t made the move Stateside just yet. He first hit our TV screens in the late ’90s, making appearances in a number of popular shows such as The Bill, Judge John Deed and Waking The Dead. However, Clarke’s first big break came when he landed the role of Wyman Norris in popular show, Auf Wiedersehen Pet, and in 2005 broke into prime time Saturday night television in the BBC smash hit, Doctor Who, as Mickey. Clarke at this stage was also making waves in the world of theatre and in 2003 won the prestigious Laurence Olivier Award for Most Promising Newcomer after his performance in Where Do We Live.
During his time on Doctor who Clarke started work on his first major film project, writing as well as acting in the acclaimed Kidulthood. Kidulthood, despite being produced on a low budget, set a trend for gritty urban dramas, and saw Clarke win the Best British Screenplay award at the 2006 British Independent Film Awards. Kidulthood follows the lives of a group of West London fifteen-year-olds over the course of two days, successfully tackling difficult issues including suicide, teen pregnancy and drug use. The film resonated within the minds of its audiences making it a massive success and marked the start of Clarke’s film career.
Following this, Clarke’s film career has gone from strength to strength and two years later he wrote, directed and starred in the sequel, Adulthood. Set six years after the original and following the release from prison of Clarke’s character Sam, the film saw even more success than the first, becoming one of the highest grossing British films of 2008, bringing in over a £1,000,000 in the opening weekend.
Following the success of these films, Clarke appeared alongside Danny Dyer in 2009 horror/comedy Doghouse, as well as London based drama/horror, Heartless. 2009 also saw Clarke be awarded the highly prestigious Orange Rising Star Award at the 2009 Baftas.
In 2010 Clarke then starred alongside Andy Serkis in the critically acclaimed, Bafta-nominated Sex And Drugs And Rock And Roll, a biographical film about the life and work of musician Ian Dury. 2010 also saw Clarke’s return to his trademark genre with him producing, directing and starring in movie 220.127.116.11, an urban drama.
And now with Screwed due for release this week, plus drama Huge, out later in July, Noel Clarke’s success shows no sign of slowing down.