Exclusive Interview With:
April 29, 2016.
Here at SClubility I've just had the great pleasure of interviewing Paul Louis, you remember him as Marvin from S Club 7's first series 'Miami 7'. Upon the recent opening of the 'Miami 7 page' on Facebook by Paul and Alfie Wise (Howard) themselves, I decided to interview Paul and bring more attention to their page, which you can follow by clicking here.
He kindly accepted and I couldn't be more happy and grateful. It's really worth reading, it starts below!
- Hi Paul! And welcome to SClubility. It is a real honour to have this interview. First of all I would like to know more from you. Tell me, how did you start in this business?
PAUL LOUIS: Thanks so much. I've been performing since I was a little child starting mostly with puppets. But I got my first professional acting job when I was 19, playing the part of an Amoeba in a silly little musical. What can I say, you have to start somewhere, right? ;)
-Of course! And you’ve had a very diverse career, according to IMDB you have obviously worked as an actor, but you are also the creator, writer and composer for “Jelly Bean Jungle” and more recently you’ve worked as a director, writer and editor in your animated short “An American Gringo in Rincon”. How did you happen to work in Miami 7 and how different was from working in your other jobs?
PL: In 1999 I was doing small parts in TV and film. I was called in by the casting director of Miami 7, to read for the part of Marvin. They were looking for a goofy characterization, and I am kind of known for comedic character roles. I read for the part with actor Alfie Wise (Howard), and there was immediate comedic chemistry between us. The producers hired us right on the spot, and Howard and Marvin were born.
-Were you already familiar with other projects from Simon Fuller? Did you know that he was the man behind S Club 7?
PL: I did not know that Simon Fuller was involved with S Club 7 until after I was hired to play Marvin on the Miami 7 series. Being a fan of American Idol at the time (which he also created), I was quite impressed.
-Did Simon ever visit the sets in Miami? Was he somehow present even though he wasn’t around?
PL: He visited the set a few times and I recall him being a very nice man. Quick funny story… On the series I had wild hair and a thick mustache which I shaved and cut after we finished filming. The week after that, the band filmed the "Bring it all back" video on South Beach where I was invited to visit. Simon was there and did not recognize me without all the facial hair and he thought I was some weird stalker guy looming around the set and asked me to be removed. When he realized it was me he apologized profusely, and we all had a great laugh about it.
-That's a really funny story, thanks for sharing it! You all seemed to get on very well. How was working with S Club 7?
PL: I worked with S Club 7 for five weeks filming Miami 7, and we shot all the episodes during that time. From the very first day I met them the band was nothing but sweet, respectful, and courteous to both me and Alfie.
-And how was working with Alfie Wise? And Cathy Dennis?
PL: Well first of all, Alfie Wise is a real pro in this business. He has starred in countless movies and worked with so many film legends. I learned a lot from him. He was definitely an older brother to me and we still remain friends to this very day. In fact we teamed up to create our Miami 7 Facebook fan page, so that we can connect more with the fans of the old series. He's nothing like his character on the series. He is very sweet and made us all laugh constantly in between scenes.
Cathy Dennis worked with us only for a few days, but during that time I had the pleasure of chatting with her about acting. She told me that she did not have any acting experience but was fascinated by it. I was equally impressed with her work as a songwriter. She is definitely one of the best.
-And what can you tell me about the directors? How was the routine for shooting an episode? I know that you had worked in a series set before S Club, so we can assume it was surely very similar.
PL: Andrew Margetson directed the episodes, and he was a real perfectionist. He knew exactly the type of shots that he wanted and choreographed the scenes beautifully. We were given our scripts ahead of time and usually studied the lines the night before filming. We were given a list of which scenes we were to film on that particular day. We often ran our lines very fast, over and over again before we started filming, while hair and makeup simultaneously dis touch ups on us. Sometimes one scene would have numerous difficult lines, but somehow we all got through it. A few of the members of S Club 7 did not have any prior acting experience, but they picked it up as natural as breathing.
To see the filming locations of Miami 7,
-There are many iconic and memorable moments for the fans in Miami 7. Like the band swimming with dolphins or the first time S Club Party was performed. Do you have a favourite moment in the show?
PL: It's hard to say because there were so many fun moments in the series. I do recall having a blast when we filmed the court room musical number (Bring It All Back) because we simply danced and sang all day with S Club 7 and a ton of actor extras in the scene.
-How was the selection of extras?
PL: The extras were all local South Florida people who were called in to work. Extras do not have to audition. They just show up and many hope to be in a scene where they have a lot of camera time. In the court episode, one of the extras is my cousin, Jeff, and I had the producers put him directly behind me and Alfie so that he could be seen for most of the scenes. This is a little extra perk in being a series costar.
-And what about the performances. Which one was your favourite S Club 7 song?
PL: My personal favorite songs are a few of the songs the band did after the Miami 7 series. I love 'Natural', 'You' and 'Never Had a Dream Come True'. But I also loved 'Bring It All Back' because it was such a sweet and optimistic change from the types of pop songs on American charts at the time. It was refreshing to finally hear something so positive for kids to dance to and sing along with. As the father of a little girl, I truly appreciated that.
-The fans have heard that your look came from a previous performance of you in a Shakespeare play. How much did you contribute to build your character, Marvin?
PL: Actually it wasn't a Shakespeare play, it was a comedy play written by Steve Martin in which I played the part of young Albert Einstein. So when they called me to read for Marvin, I had the wild hair and mustache. In the middle of the scene I messed up my hair in frustration, and the producers and directors stopped the scene because they were laughing so hard. They wound up using that bit in the "Take Off" episode of Miami 7, where we first meet Howard and Marvin. So yes, there were many times like that where I offered my own comedy ideas and they allowed me to do them on the show.
-And what can you tell me about the creative involvement of the group. How much did they contribute to the show?
PL: Well as you know, Tina helped choreograph many of the musical numbers and the rest of the band had some input as well. The band also contributed without even realizing that they contributed. For example, many of their real life personality traits were written in to enhance the character versions of themselves on the series. For example, in real life, Jo is pretty tough and streetsmart, so they made her the tomboy. Rachel is a real girly girl, so they embellished on that side of her on the series, always making her conscious of maintaining her beauty and fashion sense. It was like that with all seven members.
-I’m sure you had a great amount of brilliant moments behind the scenes. How was celebrating Hannah’s birthday in Miami?
PL: Hannah turned 18 when we filmed the dolphin episode. We shot all the episodes out of sequence, but I do remember us wishing her a happy birthday on the set during the dolphin scenes. She was such a sweetheart to work with.
-Do you keep in touch with the band or the rest of the cast?
PL: I've heard from everyone from the series over the years, with the exception of Rachel and Jon. I know Rachel has had a pretty busy career as a solo artist, and Jon works quite a bit in the theater. But the member of S Club 7 who communicates with me regularly, is Bradley. He has always been very supportive of me and my career and we remain long-distance friends to this very day.
-Finally, I will like to ask you about your future projects. What is next for Paul Louis?
PL: Well I just finished starring in a musical comedy that I co-wrote, called "Real Men". It played in New York City Off-Broadway and received fantastic reviews. It is a musical romp into the minds of men. And I'm also producing and writing children's puppet television here in the United States, utilizing puppetry and animation (two media art forms that I am very passionate about). Who knows, I may even create an animated parody of "Miami 7". ;)
-That would be awesome! Thank you very much Paul, we can’t wait to see more from you. It’s been an incredible pleasure; and come back to SClubility whenever you like!