Interview: Freddie Thorpe

From the interview archives.

Overdrive tells the story of two brothers who find themselves in the south of France exploring new opportunities. Their expertise? Car theft. VULKAN caught up with Freddie Thorp who stars as Garrett Foster to discuss how he ensured he and costar Scott Eastwood would have natural brotherly chemistry during filming, the gorgeous cars they got to play around with on set, and working with director Antonio Negret. 

You play Garrett Foster in Overdrive. Can you tell us a bit about who he is and why he became a thief?

Well, one of things that first drew me to Garrett was his cheekiness. I think it is obvious from the beginning that this guy is always playful even when the stakes are high. He doesn’t take himself too seriously, but is often so caught up in his own world, he fails to see the humour in the way he is behaving. He is someone who likes to continually push the boundaries, and always has been. That innate desire to be nonconforming, mixed with his overwhelming love for all thing automotive was only going to take him down one path. Car Thief! And he loves it.

What kind of brothers are Garrett and Andrew (played by Scott Eastwood)? Are they close, or are they working together reluctantly?

Garrett and Andrew are definitely close. They grew up apart (being from different mothers), with Andrew living in America and Garrett in London, but when their father falls ill they come together and form a very strong bond in quick succession. They compliment each other perfectly; for all Andrew’s stoicism there is Garrett’s silliness. But of course, like any brothers, they get on each others tits sometimes! This provides some of the more humorous moments in the film. They wouldn’t be believable without the prodding and teasing that I am sure so many of us can relate to. But you never question their genuine affection for each other. They are sharing this wild journey and neither of them would do it with anyone else.

How was working alongside Scott? Did you two spend some time off set in order to get that natural brotherly chemistry? 

Yes of course! I met Scott for the first time when I flew out to LA for the table read. We had breakfast that morning and clicked quickly. We would often go out for dinner or grab a drink during the shoot. I think it is important to harbour a relationship off set, as it all adds to the chemistry on screen. He has a lot more experience than me in film too. I came up through theatre – so it was a great to watch how he works and further my understanding of how to translate a performance onto screen.

How did you prepare for the role?

One of first things I considered when preparing to play Garrett was his physicality. It’s something that can often help me find a character. Being the boisterous conman that he is, I started playing around with an over-exaggerated gait and very gesticulative manner. Walking to the shops or going to meet friends, I would try out different things until I started to land on something that felt right for the character. I also read up a lot about the cars that feature in the film and started to access that motorhead mentality which really makes up a strong part of his motivation. He doesn’t just steal cars for the money, he loves the cars he steals and gets just as excited at the thought of getting the chance to drive them.  

Let’s talk about cars for a second. Did you consider yourself a “car guy” before the film, or do you consider yourself more of one now? 

I’ve always had an appreciation for beautiful cars. I wouldn’t say I would consider myself a “car guy” per se, but there is something very visceral about driving. The speed, the potential danger, the sounds. All that appeals to me and contributes to that primal enjoyment you get from pressing your foot on the accelerator. Overdrive has definitely upped my love for cars though. No doubt.

What’s your preferred set of wheels?

After shooting the film, one of the first things I did was buy my first car. It’s this gorgeous 1991 BMW E30. Older cars appeal to me more than tuned up modern ones. I feel new cars pretty much drive themselves. My BMW is so fun to throw around with all its little quirks and complaints. It has character! Although, I must admit, it has a few dents in it now.   

If your car broke down, which one of your cast mates would you call for help?

Hmmm, good question. I think I would have to call Gaia Weiss. It reminds me of this one time during the shoot where I somehow managed to lock myself in my trailer loo. The door wouldn’t bloody open and my phone was on set and nobody seemed to hear me banging, so I just resigned myself to the fact that I was going to be there for a while. But the beautiful Gaia by chance wanted to run some lines and stumbled into my trailer to save me from my privy conundrum.

Did you get to drive a real Bugatti 1937 or did you work with replicas? 

The prized Bugatti we drove in the film was indeed a replica. There is no way they would have let us drive the real one. It is worth a silly amount of cash. But we had the real cars for all the money shots. As you can imagine the owners of the original vintage cars were not too keen to have us go crazy with their pride and joy. Probably a good thing too. I ended reversing the replica Shelby Cobra I get to drive into a large bush…..twice. I’m glad it wasn’t the real thing. 

Did you learn anything interesting about the cars you can share with us?

We had a whole range of beautiful cars with fascinating histories. My favourite, historically anyway, was a car that belonged to Al Capone himself. And if I remember correctly, the wheel had been modified to be on the other side so in the event of drive-by, he would have one of his protection sitting in the seat with a shotgun ready to return fire. It also had bulletproof glass which made it one of the first armoured road cars ever to exist. Pretty cool!

How about the Ferrari 250GTO? Seems like everyone, whether they’re into cars or not, would love the opportunity to drive any Ferrari, but the 250GTO is a pretty special car in and of itself. Would you ever buy such an expensive and powerful car?

Yeah, I loved that car. If I could take home any of the ones we used in the film it would have been that Ferrari. I’m not sure I dig the red though. I would probably get it in a dark blue or racing green. It would be a lot classier. However, if we are talking about real life, no, I’m not sure I could ever justify spending that kind of money on a car. Maybe if I won the lottery.

How was filming in the south of France? How did you spend your off time, if you had any?

We spent most of the shoot in Marseille. It was my first time there, so it was great to get a feel for a new place. Definitely one of the perks of the job. Always getting to explore new territories and shoot at picturesque locations. To be honest, our schedule was pretty crazy. We would shoot six days a week and production would throw a party in a different venue every Saturday night so we spent most Sundays hungover and then right back to it on Monday morning. But Moussa Maaskri, who plays one of the gangsters in the film, is big fan of the Marseille football team and he took me to grudge match against Lyon. The stadium is massive as it was used for the 1998 World Cup, so that was fun experience. The fans are nuts there.

How would you describe Antonio Negret’s directing style? Would you like to work with him again in the future?

It was a pleasure to work with Antonio. He has a very gentle demeanour, which goes a long way when working on a production as big as this. He was great at leading you in the direction that he wanted without telling you point blanc, which always opens the door to finding moments you don’t expect to. He also has a very open minded approach to scenes allowing us actors to play around with the material, and a lot of play ended up in the final cut . Of course, I would love to work with Antonio again.

What’s next for you? Do you have your eye on an upcoming role in particular?

At the moment I am shooting the new Netflix series Safe up in Manchester. It’s an adaptation of one of Harlan Coben’s thrillers, written by Danny Brocklehurst. Michael C Hall is playing the lead, whom I am great fan of. I loved Dexter and Six Feet Under. That’s taking most of my focus for the time being, but there are a couple other cool projects we are looking at. Plenty to be excited about right now!

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