If you asked me what I thought the stand-out show from 2018 was I’d probably say The End of the F***ing World because a) it’s only January and b) I haven’t watched anything else this year.
Yet say you catch up with me a few months down the line, I doubt the answer will be any different.
The End Of The F***ing World, which sees a psychopath teenager named James (Alex Lawther) embark on a road trip with razor-sharp cynic classmate Alyssa (Jessica Barden), has done bits since it’s jump to Netflix at the turn of the new year – at one point bagging itself a 100 per cent fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
Naturally, we wanted to know more about the show from one of its very own stars, Jessica Barden.
UNILAD: How has your life changed since The End of the F***ing World?
Jessica Barden: I actually just bumped into someone on the street who I’ve known for a while and she asked me the same question. It hasn’t really changed at all. The only thing that’s changed is Instagram. At first, I was like, ‘this is really overwhelming’ and I didn’t really like it, and then I went to the pub with my friends and I was kinda drunk ’cause I was sat there reflecting and I thought actually this doesn’t mean anything cause I don’t even have to have Instagram.
It’s a choice that I made. I don’t get recognised on the street, my life is the exact same as it was before. The only thing that’s different is the social media side of it. But you can’t really complain about it cause you can just delete it.
I suppose it’s a credit to your work.
JB: Of course. It is really amazing, all the kids on the internet that are posting about the show, because they’re all 16-year-olds and 17-year-olds and you know that they’re watching something that they should really be watching. All the themes in the show and all the characters are compelling them. It’s instilling that thing of ‘It’s OK to be weird.’
You were in the short film adaptation of the comic in 2014. After that did it all cool off or did you think this could be something bigger?
JB: No, I think most times when you make a short film they are usually made with the end goal being something that is either a feature or in this case a TV series, so there was talk of it at the time. It was a long time ago and we were all a lot younger. We knew there was the potential to carry it on.
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Did you expect it to be so big? Or was this kind of a reception always the plan?
JB: No, not whatsoever. I’ve been really lucky because I’ve been in a lot of things that people have really enjoyed watching but never really mainstream stuff. I’ve never been in something that my dad’s friends watch, or that my brothers wanna watch.
Did you watch it back?
JB: Yeah. I was really proud of what we’d done.
Do you identify with Alyssa in any sort of way?
JB: Yeah, I completely identify with her. The way that she says anything that comes into her mind. How one second she’s really over-the-top and the next she’s quite vulnerable. That’s definitely me.
I think she’s deeper than people might make out. At a glance, it looks like a classic case of daddy issues, but she only uses James for a bit of a laugh at first.
JB: Yeah, that was one the things that I was quite prepared for people not to like about the show, cause I did make her deliberately that arrogant. A lot of the stuff she did reminds me of the Inbetweeners boys, especially the way she talks about sex. It’s usually something you see guys doing in roles.
What scenes did you most enjoy shooting?
JB: I loved all the scenes. The ones with Geoff Bell too, cause he’s just a flat-out legend. I worked with him a few years ago. He’s such a geezer. You feel like he’s always performing. He’s a proper maverick.
What’s your relationship with Alex Lawther (James) like off-set?
JB: I’ve known Alex for a year or so cause we’ve got a lot of friends in common. We actually ended up being in LA with each other two summers ago. I didn’t know anyone out there and neither did he so we used to go out clubbing.
We are quite like Alyssa and James. Before I knew him, he was someone who I was really intimidated by because he was quiet and calm and everything he says is really well-thought out and I’m just like a bull in a china shop. I thought ‘Oh my God he’s gonna think I’m such an idiot.’ But we are quite brotherly and sisterly.
The title’s dead good.
JB: That’s my favourite part of it when you say to people oh yeah it’s called The End of the F***ing World and they’re like ‘What?’ It’s proper funny how shocked people are by it.
What would you say to those who don’t really get it?
JB: They need to stop being so f*cking square.
I don’t know. Not everything is for everyone. I’d rather be on a show that is gonna divide opinion other than something that’s just safe.
My mate said to me the other night, spoiler warning, the reason James runs off is because he realises he’s still a psychopath and will eventually kill Alyssa instead of him just taking the blame and saving her from prosecution and I was like ‘What?’
JB:That’s amazing. I’ve never heard that before.
Do you have your own theories?
JB:I don’t have an opinion on the ending. I didn’t expect it to be as sad as it was. I cried at it.
Obviously the ending’s different from the comic. Where would you stand on a second season?
JB:I wanna see a second series with drag queens in it.
I wanna see more of the dad even though he was a sh*thouse.
JB: Which one?
Leslie. Not your actual dad.
JB: Yeah, I really loved acting with him. He lives around the corner from me. We’ve got a group chat with me and Alex and the directors and the writer. We talk to each other every single day.
You all must be wanting to do it again.
JB: Yeah we float around ideas like everyone else about what we want to do but I genuinely don’t know anything official about it. It’s all to do with Channel 4 and Netflix. They have to wait for ratings and things like that.
Let’s hope it’s soon. Nice one, Jess.
JB: My pleasure.