We haven’t seen them for a few years, but Eddie and Patsy are back to ‘see off’ Kate Moss, rule the fashion scene again and of course, have a few drinks while doing it…
When it comes to BFFs, there’s one eternal truth: one of you is Patsy and one of you is Eddie. So we sat down with the eternally chic Ab Fab ladies Jennifer Saunders and Joanna Lumley to find out who battled it out for a cameo in the new film and what it really took to get Kate Moss dunked in the Thames. Pass the Bolly (hic)!
Anyone who’s worked in the media industry would say some of the storylines are rather close to the bone. Were you inspired by real-life events?
Jennifer: [Laughs] I don’t know. I invented it all – pure invention! It wasn’t based on real life at all, actually – it was just all what I imagine happens and it turns out it does happen. We’ve been to enough parties!
The film’s packed with famous faces, but did anyone turn you down?
Joanna: We actually had to beat them off with a stick.
Jennifer: We just said we needed people to turn up to a party… and people turned up to go to a party.
Was there anyone begging for a cameo?
Jennifer: No, I think there was this idea that Kim Kardashian was [going to be in it] which she never was. Harry Styles wasn’t [either]. So I think people sort of invented who they thought should be in it.
Who was the best cameo for you?
Jennifer: Oh gosh. We choose a different person every time.
Joanna: We do, because that’s polite. I mean, I have to say cameo is a great word because how can Jon Hamm be a cameo? It’s not too bad to have to rough him up a bit [laughs]. It was pretty nice. Jennifer just thought: ‘Wouldn’t it be nice to have Jon Hamm?’ He’s a giant. But funnily enough, the giants are the first to say yeah.
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How did you convince Kate Moss to get in the Thames?
Jennifer: Because she’s a model. Joanna: Models have to do tough stuff. They endure heat and cold. Jennifer: She was treated a lot better – as she said – walking in the Thames on a film shoot than she would have been if it was a modelling shoot. Photographers are ruthless. We wrapped her up in blankets and gave her tea.
Is this film your farewell for the characters?
Jennifer: Not at all, because they’re always with us.
Joanna: We might just do our own small films and just laugh at them ourselves.
Jennifer: I’ll get a GoPro [camera] and come round to your house.
Do you think there could be a sequel?
Jennifer: I’m not planning a sequel at all, no.
Joanna: Oh, I am.
Jennifer: Nooo, this is it!
Therewerereportsatthetimeof filming that booze had to be banned on set. Was there any truth in that?
Joanna: This is the only sad thing, which can be kept only between us and your readers – we don’t drink at all. It’s all ginger beer.
Do you think people wanted you to be drunk?
Joanna: Yes, people wanted us to be slaughtered! I rather wish it could be true, though – there were moments where we’d say: ‘Could we have
a real bottle here?’
What do you think it is about these characters that have transcended so many generations of women?
Joanna: I think women get women. We all know someone who’s like the characters. People come up and they say: ‘I’m Eddie and my friend’s Patsy.’ Jennifer: I think it happens everywhere. Everyone goes out on nights out; they have the best friend who always supports them.
Joanna: And I think women, more than men, have fashion disasters. Men don’t usually have that, whereas women are haunted by the fact that the dress isn’t quite right or think: ‘If only it did up better.’
Jennifer: It’s just everyone’s neuroses. You get up in the morning and you think: ‘Oh, I’m not good enough, I’m too fat, I’m too thin, I can’t do this,’ and then you just end up thinking: ‘Alright beat then, what the hell, we’ll have a drink.’
Joanna: And then you put something on and you turn to your best friend and go: ‘Does this look alright?’ and she says: ‘Oh, you look fabulous!’
So you’ve both worried about your looks in the same way as your characters?
Jennifer: Always. There’s no person out there that doesn’t. You must be super-weird if you get up and think:‘I’m fabulous’ every day.
Joanna: Patsy thinks she’s fabulous!
Jennifer: Well, she’s blind! [Laughs]
Eddie and Patsy have aged well given their lifestyle….
Joanna: Patsy’s formaldehyde. She’s got no interior organs and she doesn’t eat, so she can’t be poisoned.
Have you taken any of the props or costumes home?
Jennifer: Very few costumes. I mean, Edina doesn’t wear anything you’d ever want to wear again and it’s always too small. Actually, once a Jean Paul Gaultier jacket came in that was so divine I just said: ‘I have to have that.’
In the trailer there’s the running joke about Stella McCartney and you not being able to wear her clothes. In real life were designers happy to lend?
Jennifer: Stella has replaced Lacroix, as Lacroix no longer exists and Stella is just such a fantastic British brand. So [in the film] she’s rebelled and said that Edina is banned from wearing her clothes – and I love that. And I love that Stella McCartney’s so game.
Where there any brands that wanted you to wear their clothes?
Jennifer: Well, Stella actually. Stella was really pissed off about it, so we’re wearing all of her clothes for the publicity stuff because it’s gorgeous. But Vivienne Westwood made all of Edina’s clothes, obviously two sizes too small, which was kind of tragic. But Patsy always looks amazing!
Joanna: I had a lovely Alexander McQueen dress with a Topshop jacket – but they all go back afterwards.
Have there been any standout moments during the Ab Fab years?
Joanna: We had a funny time in the South of France when they went on a wine-tasting thing and they didn’t realise that you’re just supposed to take a sip and spit it out and we drank bottle after bottle. Well, we didn’t….
Jennifer: That was one of the few times they said: ‘We don’t have any props,’ and we said: ‘That doesn’t matter.’
Joanna: And the charming man who owned the vineyard was probably imagining these women would be elegant, they’re going to be film stars… and there we were with stuff all down our fronts, just lying on the table.
Absolutely Fabulous is in cinemas nationwide from Friday 1 July