‘Shoplifters of the World’: James Bloor on seeing himself in Patrick

Photo courtesy of RLJE Films

James Bloor (Nat Geo’s Barkskins) shines as the quietly confident Patrick in Shoplifters of the World. James says he really resonated with Patrick as they are very similar, check out our conversation!

Shoplifters of the World Synopsis: In the Summer of 1987, four friends, reeling from the sudden break-up of the iconic British band The Smiths, embark on a night out of partying to mourn their musical loss. At the same time, an impassioned Smiths fan takes a local radio DJ hostage at gunpoint and forces him to play nothing but Smiths tracks. With the radio station playing as the soundtrack to their night, the friends go on a wild journey of self-discovery that will transform them forever. Featuring an incredible soundtrack – including 20 songs from The Smiths – Shoplifters of the World is a glorious ode to the craziness of the ‘80s and the power of music to change people’s lives.

Written and directed by Stephen Kijak, this film also stars Helena Howard, Ellar Coltrane, Elena Kampouris, Nick Krause with Thomas Lennon and Joe Manganiello.

What initially drew you to this movie?

James: One thing that drew me to the film was that the character is gay. And I’m gay. I have never had a chance to play a gay character before. So, that was just a really nice thing to be able to explore that.

Photo courtesy of RLJE Films
So other than being gay, how would you describe Patrick?

James: He is quite shy. Really, he’s someone who’s desperately trying to show everybody that he’s got it all figured out and that he is completely together but actually all of that is the exact opposite of what is actually what’s going on. He’s just trying to project a sort of quiet confidence, but actually, really, he’s a bit of a mess on the inside. He’s just starting to take baby steps into finding out who he might be and what he might like, how he might move. He’s sort of taking these tentative baby steps which, I think, there are little glimpses of in the film where he sort of take these little baby steps and kind of steps out beyond the sort of template that he’s got for himself and who he thinks he is or who he thinks he ought to be. So yeah, a bit like Bambi, his legs are too long, and he’s sort of just trying to learn how to move in his body.

What was it like exploring Patrick’s characterization, while also having him in a relationship with Sheila?

James: It’s always funny seeing a film, because then you see the outside of it, but when you’re acting, obviously, you’ve only got your sort of internal stuff and I can remember a lot of sort of guilt and worry. But I think that Elena, who plays Sheila, and I sort of decided that we really wanted to foreground their friendship and theirs is sort of a deep friendship and deep care for each other. So that was sort of the heart, and then, you know, really, from Patrick’s first line, we know where this is gonna end up, basically when he’s protesting about not being gay. So, I think the writing’s on the wall for both of them and there’s that old thing where, you know, I don’t know that it happened to me, but I do hear of it happening to people. I do hear there’s sometimes where- you know what, in some way, that did happen to me. I think when I was a teenager, other people told me that I was gay, in some ways, before I knew and that is a really strange experience because you sort of think, ‘well, no, actually.’ But they can because from their vantage point, I don’t know if they’re older or more experienced or whatever, they can see what you might not be able to necessarily. So that’s quite, quite odd. I think there is quite a lot of that going on in their relationship.

Because you saw a bit of yourself and Patrick, did you have to do anything to really get into character? 

James: You know, out of the characters that I’ve played so far in my life, he has been the one that I would say is sort of closest to myself. I feel like you’re always pulling out some particular aspect of yourself when you’re acting. Let’s say he’s the key parts of myself that I actually quite like, he’s quite gentle quite shy, quite low key I think, and quite in touch with his emotions or he gets to be a little bit more in touch with his emotions throughout the film. 

So, no, not really, I actually say a little intention when I act and my intention for this film was to try to feel as much as I could. That’s all I tried to do, really.

Nick Krause and James Bloor in ‘Shoplifters of the World.’ Photo courtesy of RLJE Films
Did you get any say with your wardrobe? 

James: Gina and Natalia were the people in the costume department who I had the most contact with. They were extraordinary. The amount of different looks that they had up their sleeve for each of the different characters was absolutely amazing. They sourced all of the vintage stuff, basically all of these vintage fabrics or the authentic ‘80s prints and patterns. I guess, how much say I got, not loads, but I’m also a terrible dresser, so I’m always very happy when there are costume professionals and experts because I can barely dress my day to day. They were very, very wonderful.

I remember talking to Steve (Kljak) and we kicked around a little bit some Robert Mapplethorpe images which are from a very different era, but there’s quite a lot of necklaces. I mean, I know Robert Mapplethorpe had a very different style, different necklaces but there are some great photos in him and Patti Smith, that we kind of looked to for Sheila and Patrick’s body language and the fact that Patrick was taking photos as well, it just sort of bent that way a little bit. Patrick, I think, has a very sort of ‘80s Morrissey look. But then I got really into beads, actually, I should say, all for the film. My grandma passed away two years ago and I remember going to her house and collecting up all of her beads. I’ve got them here actually. And they kind of remind me of the Shoplifters experience.

Were you a fan of The Smiths before working on this movie?

James: I was not. My good friend, Alex, had played The Smiths for me in the car. Oh, this was several years ago…  You know, sometimes you just sort of don’t vibe with a voice, you just don’t quite connect with the tone of the voice. But then, I actually got over that and then got into them while we were doing the film or a little bit before, when we were prepping for the film. It’s sort of key songs for me. “There Is a Light That Never Goes Out,” I really love that song. I quite like “This Charming Man,” but the other one that I really love is “The Boy with the Thorn in his Side,” I really like that one. So yeah, there’s some key Smiths songs that I really resonate with.

James Bloor, Elena Kampouris, Helena Howard and Nick Krause. Photo courtesy of RLJE Films
Shoplifters Of The World will be in Theaters, On Demand and Digital on March 26, 2021.