Nick Frost produces and stars in newly-released salsa sizzler Cuban Fury. He did all his own dancing, but it wasn’t without some tears, as he tells Steve Pratt

IT began with a middle-of-the-night email written and sent to his long-term producer Nira Park while he was a bit tipsy. “How would you feel if I said we should do a film where I DANCE A LOT? Imagine me in tightly-fitted sequinned garments with a lot of slow-mo.”

Never mind a star, a movie was born in that moment. A film that shows not only that men do dance but big men do dance. The male in question – and the sender of the email while slightly the worse for wear – was Nick Frost, best known as part of the trio behind Spaced on TV and Shaun Of The Dead, Hot Fuzz and The World’s End in cinemas.

He’s taking it rather more seriously than outsize personalities Russell Grant and Mark Benton who’ve galumped across the Strictly dancefloor to amusing, if not exactly award-winning, effect.

Cuban Fury is described as a romantic comedy with lots of salsa. And Frost was determined to do it for real. No stunt feet, so to speak. He spent six months learning to dance like a former salsa champion, with the help of Strictly’s salsa choreographer Richard Marcel and top dance trainer Susana Montero.

The story sees Frost as Bruce, a junior salsa champion who lost his confidence, and 25 years later is forced to re-examine his life by the arrival of a new American boss. He takes to the dancefloor again with the help of his sister (Olivia Colman) and childhood dance mentor (Ian McShane).

Seeing the finished film is proving an odd experience for Frost. “It’s really surreal watching it,” he says. “I kind of can’t watch it because it makes me want to cry a little bit at what we went through to make it like that. People assume romantic comedies are easy. They’re not. I’m proud of what we achieved. I met some amazing people and got to watch the London salsa community.”

There were times he regretted that drunken email to Park. The first two months of training were horrible, says Frost. “I hated it. I walked out of rehearsals twice, and I cried once. I did. It just gets too much. You have a lot of mirrors in your studios, and you look at yourself and you can see yourself destroying a country and its national identity, like a big chimp grabbing a cake.”

Despite all the pain and anguish, he has no regrets at tackling it. “It’s a great thing to do,” he says. “There’s a direct correlation between salsa and dancing in general and positivity. I never met one dancer who was miserable or who had a problem. It’s infectious and rubs off on you.

“It was amazing going from the first month, when I probably couldn’t dance more than 40 minutes in one go, to month four or five, when I could dance all day,” he says.

Strictly has been credited with helping to arouse interest in dancing and Frost too sees numbers starting to creep up at schools in the community. But his idea for the film wasn’t a cunning ploy along the lines of “dancing is back, let’s hit the dancing pulse of the nation”.

The Northern Echo:
Nick Frost in Cuban Fury

He became a dancer for the role. He trained too for The World’s End, the comedy in which he starred alongside long-time collaborators, actor Simon Pegg and director Edgar Wright. He did a lot of running in that, not dance steps.

He’s not only star – along with Olivia Colman, Rashida Jones and Chris O’Dowd – of Cuban Fury, but also a producer. He wants to do everything.

“Cuban Fury is, like The World’s End, a film that I produced and something that I’m very proud of. In terms of a template of me going forward, what I would like is finding and shooting stories about human beings, be that comedy or drama. I’m not bothered which I do.

‘ITHINK real drama and real comedy are not mutually exclusive. I want to write things and want other people to write things for me. I want to write and produce my own stuff.”

The US is a possibility, some might say inevitability, for any British performer these days but he won’t be dashing over to try his luck. “I’m not a young actor who’s been told by my agent you need to break into the States – live there for a year, take meetings, do business, take your ten by eights around,” he says.

Frost has done work in the US. He’s been filming the comedy The Business Trip with Vince Vaughn and James Marsden, for instance. “I think Hollywood as it was – an island of filmmakers – has changed. You have an amazing film company market here and great stuff being made. Or you can go to Canada or Europe, or even stay at home here and put it on YouTube.

“There was a position six or seven years ago that when you got into film, you stayed in film.

The thought of dropping down to do television was anathema, but now it’s possible. TV is the place where a lot of the best writers are and the place where you can perhaps be a little braver in terms of your choices.”

The Northern Echo:
Rashida Jones plays new boss Julia

Next up is voicing the animated adaptation of Alan Snow’s Here Be Monsters and he has completed filming Sky Atlantic’s six-part 1960s-set romantic comedy Mr Sloane from Robert B Weide, of Curb Your Enthusiasm fame.

As for more from the Frost, Pegg and Wright trio, he says they’re all very busy on other projects at the moment. “We always take a bit of time off when we’ve shot a film. We’ll get back together in the next couple of years and start thinking about our next thing,” he says.

  • Cuban Fury (15) in cinemas now.