Mr Stink: Interview with Sheridan Smith
Tell us about your character Mrs Crumb.
I play Mrs Crumb, Chloe’s mother. She’s not a very nice mother at the beginning. She barks orders, snaps a lot and is obsessed with running as the local MP. She has ridiculous policies and is a little bit delusional. She ignores daughter Chloe while her other daughter Annabelle is her favourite. A lot of my scenes are shouting at Chloe or shouting at Dad, always shouting at someone!
Did you base Mrs Crumb on any real life politicians?
Well I don’t think she’s a good one, so I didn’t really base her on anyone I’ve seen. But there are definitely people I know in her character. For example she always says ‘eyes and teeth’ and that’s something my mum always does. My mum’s lovely but she does say that to her girls. So I took a little bit of my mum, but she’ll kill me for saying that!
Mrs Crumb has a crush on the Prime Minister, played by David, doesn’t she?
She has a huge crush on him. The PM is played by David, and he’s hilarious. His character is a bit of an idiot and she’s just in love with him. She’s obsessed with politics and the election and she goes gooey eyed watching videos of the PM every night.
Has playing a wannabe politician hasn’t inspired you into going into politics yourself?
No way - I couldn’t if I tried! No, I’ll stick to pretending to be other people I think.
How long did it take to create Mrs Crumb’s distinctive look?
Mrs Crumb’s beehive hair takes about an hour in the morning, but not as long as Hugh’s transformation - he has to get covered in goo and gunk to become Mr Stink.
This is all my own hair but it has been back combed to within an inch of its life, then sprayed with hairspray. So if I got near a flame I’d be in trouble! I haven’t been able to wash my hair at all as the beehive stays in better unwashed! For my play [Sheridan was starring as Hedda Gabler at the Old Vic during filming] I have a wig. I’ve been going from the film set to theatre and they have to try to squash the beehive down and put my wig over the top of it. So you can imagine my hair is in a bit of a bad way! I try and brush it out but it stays in pretty well. I get all sorts of funny looks from neighbours!
Were you already familiar with Mr Stink as a book?I knew the story before I took part because of my god-daughters. David is such a brilliant writer and the book is brilliant. It’s just so exciting to be able to bring it to life. Children’s imaginations are so out there. You can afford to be really silly with it and to try to make kids laugh. I kept thinking of my god-daughters watching it at Christmas and thinking that they’d find it funny. It has been really really good fun. I am thrilled that David and BBC wanted me to play her, so I hope I do her justice.
What will you be up to this Christmas?
I love watching Christmas telly. I’m such a big kid. The one thing I always make sure I do is go home to spend time with family. I’m always working all year so I don’t get to see them a lot as they’re up North. So I will be driving home again this Christmas and sitting with my family at Christmas time to watch. Because Mr Stink is filmed in 3D and we don’t have a 3D telly, I’m going to look into getting mum and dad one so we can sit and watch it in 3D.
Do you think there’s a message to Mr Stink?
I think the message is to treat everyone with kindness, especially at Christmas time. To not judge anyone and just be kind to everyone, especially the homeless. It’s just such a lovely message for kids to see. When I read the book, I cried. I’m such a big softie. It’s such a good story - really heart-warming and good fun and at the same time really silly. It’s perfect for Christmas! I can’t wait for my god kids and all the other kids I know to see it!
Related posts: Mr Stink: A heart-warming and funny tale adapted from David Walliams’ best-selling children’s book, Interview with David Walliams, Interview with Hugh Bonneville, Interview with Johnny Vegas.