Stephen Merchant gave a fan of The Office a speaking role alongside Christopher Walken in his new comedy-drama The Outlaws after meeting him in a Bristol pub 20 years ago.
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Bristol record shop owner Iain Aitchison first met Stephen 20 years ago at a Christmas party in a pub and jokingly asked him for a part in The Office.
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"We used to meet at the Old Lock & Weir in Hanham and that's when I first met Stephen," he told Bristol Live. "By then, The Office was on TV and I loved the show so I was a bit starstruck at first but he’s just an ordinary guy from Hanham."
"I had done a bit of extras work when I was younger and I went to drama school for a bit so I joked that if he ever had a part for me, let me know and he said he would."
The two had mutual friends as Iain’s brother-in-law went to the same high school as Stephen.
18 years later, Iain received a message from Stephen, asking if he wanted to be in his new show. Iain initially auditioned for the role of the 'seedy guy' before landing the part of the pub landlord. "My heart was in my mouth because at first, I thought it was going to be a big part.
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"He knows I used to be a drugs and alcohol worker for the NHS as I used to know his parents but he didn’t want me to have anything to do with the probation team in the show, he wanted me to play the part of the landlord."
Iain "simply couldn't believe it" when he saw his script
Iain was shocked when he noticed Christopher Walken’s name in his script. He said: "I had the whole script and then I spotted that one of the parts was played by Christopher Walken and then I saw that my character was in a scene with him. I simply couldn’t believe it."
Talking about his big scene with Christopher, Iain revealed that Stephen had to tell him to tone down his "aggressive" acting. He said: "He came in and said ‘Hi, I’m Chris’ and I just said ‘alright mate, I’m Iain’."
"We did about six different versions and at one point Stephen came over and said ‘don’t be so aggressive with Chris, you’re being a bit too angry’ which was funny."
Now back at his day job, Iain said that he was grateful to Stephen for the opportunity. "I’m just so grateful because Stephen didn’t have to do this for me but he stuck to his word."
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