Three years ago, shortly before the first big screen version of their successful TV comedy The Inbetweeners was released, Simon Bird, Blake Harrison, Joe Thomas and James Buckley insisted that the movie marked a final goodbye to the socially inept teenagers we’d all come to love since their debut in 2008.
The film, which follows the lads as they leave school and venture on their first parent-free holiday, went on to notch up the most successful opening weekend ever achieved by a comedy in the UK. And now they’re promoting the sequel, which is released today.
It’s not for the money though. “If it was about the money, we’d have brought a film out much quicker, when we were kind of riding the old wave,” says Harrison, 29, who plays the lanky, gormless Neil.
Thomas, 30, who fans will recognise as the slightly neurotic and often lovelorn Simon, agrees: “We’d be on about [film] four by now.”
“We had no idea it was going to be as successful as it was,” adds Bird, who plays pompous, former-briefcase-toting Will. “I think personally, for ourselves and for our careers, we wanted to go on and do other things and not get tied down by The Inbetweeners.”
And that’s what they did, for the next two years. “It was only that people didn’t stop asking us whether we were going to make another film,” continues Bird, who turns 30 this month.
“Yeah, there was still this demand,” adds Buckley, 26, also known as pathological liar Jay. “If it wasn’t for the fans, this film wouldn’t have been made.”
So what fan fans expect from The Inbetweeners 2?
Well, at the time of this interview, much like the first outing, the plot’s a closely guarded secret, but they will share certain titbits, like the fact it’s set six months after the last movie.
“Jay’s gone off to Australia to stay with his uncle and the other three lads are in Britain having quite a rubbish time of it,” reveals Harrison. “Neil is working but he really misses his best mate, and the other two lads are at uni but not necessarily having a great time.”
Then Neil receives an email from Jay saying how brilliant Australia is. “Even though they know he may be slightly exaggerating the truth, they think it’s got to be better than what they’re doing and head off,” explains Harrison - and in great cinematic tradition, there’s an element of a road trip.
“It’s less romcom-y than the first one,” offers Bird. “It’s more about the four of them, which is important, I think, because that’s what The Inbetweeners has always been about, at its core it’s about that group of friends.”