'I am an ex-criminal who has stumbled across another career that is f***ing amazing' - Brassic star Joe Gilgun
An audience with actor Joe Gilgun is an experience like no other.
While many in his position will be cautious in discussing a life that has been as colourful as it has been dark, the This Is England star simply couldn't hold back as he sat down with Independent.ie for a chat ahead of the launch of his new Sky One show Brassic.
With Irishman Damien Molony taking a leading role alongside Michelle Keegan in a hilarious romp that has already received widespread acclaim from critics, Brassic tells the tale of gang of inseparable mates who thieve, bribe and joyride their way through life, but their criminal antics are about to catch up.
In so many ways, that complex story mirrors the life Gilgun has led.
He speaks about his bi-polar condition and his difficult past in a brutally honest interview from a troubled soul who can't help but open his heart.
How would you describe yourself?
"I am an ex-criminal who has stumbled across another career that is f***ing amazing. There are rules from where I have come from and while I could tell you lots of things about what I did and didn't do in my past, telling you that is not allowed within those rules.
"My experience of criminality is not cool, let me tell you, but it is often glamourised on TV and we set out not to do this with Brassic. We wanted honesty with humour and hopefully that is what we have achieved."
Can you get your head around the transformation in your life?
"It's crazy to be where I am now when you consider where I come from. Every day, s*** happens that is just hard to get your head around.
"Honestly, my life has changed beyond recognition over the last few years thanks to what has happened to my career and there is this unbelievable guilt I carry around with me because I have done well."
How do your old pals feel about your career change?
"My mates are fascinated by it all. They always thought I was going to end up in the nick or out of it on heroin, seriously, that's where it looked like I was going. There was a very high chance I could have done and my mates are just amazed by it all."
Describe a moment that made you pinch your self and realise how your life has changed?
"Coming to this event to launch Brassic, I asked them whether there was any chance I could have a room with a balcony. There are a lot of middle class and upper-class people knocking around a posh hotel like this in London so I thought they may not like me smoking dope.
"So for the sake of an easy life, I asked for a balcony room and they told me the only room they had was massive, so I went with it. Honestly, the room they gave me is just insane. I rang everyone up I knew to tell them about it. It was insane."
Why do you feel guilty for being successful?
"It is a working-class thing... feeling guilty for doing well. I don't feel ashamed for what I have done, but there is real guilt there.
"To stay a night in a hotel room like that, it makes me feel guilty. You could sleep any way you want in that bed and still be comfortable and that takes a lot of getting used to for someone like me. It's crazy.
"It might be because I don't feel I deserve it, I don't feel I'm worth it. Maybe when I get a girlfriend and find some stupid woman who might fall in love with me, maybe then I will start to feel some self-worth, but I don't feel that too often."
You are open in talking about living with bipolar disorder and your character in Brassic also has the condition. Is it important to talk about it in public?
"Maybe I can help some people who also suffer from bipolar because men don't talk about that too much and in some ways, it was kind of therapy making this show.
"Everyone on the set wanted to look after each other. We were honest with how we all felt and that's why we all got along so well."
How did you feel about allowing the world to get a glimpse into the life you lead on a daily basis?
"I knew the risks of exposing myself like this and allowing the world to see into my world. It is a strange world for a lot of people, but I've opened the doors here and even if you don't want to hear it, I can't help but tell anyone who listens.
"I have terrible dreams, I wake up wet through and have panic attacks all the time. It's not fun. I spend a lot of time on my own and obsess on things. This is my world. This is what I live with, but there are also parts of my life that are f***ing amazing."
All episodes of Brassic are available to watch on Sky One now.