Scrapper: Harris Dickinson And More Talk 2023’s Best British Film

Cinema history can be made in the most unlikely of places, but the award-winning British indie Scrapper might be the first movie that can thank Home Bargains for the crucial part it played in its journey to our screens.

Whilst auditioning young actresses to play the lead role of Georgie, a 12-year-old living alone and making rent money as a bicycle thief following her mother’s death, debut director Charlotte Regan was particularly taken aback by the tape sent in by first time performer Lola Campbell.

Regan had presented several questions that she wanted her budding performers to answer – Campbell, instead, spoke at length about her love for Home Bargains.

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The director explained to Zavvi: “I knew she was right for the role then because she was so great at talking pure rubbish! She could be so captivating, funny and witty when talking about a discount store – and don’t get me wrong, I love a discount store, but it’s one of the driest subjects imaginable, and she managed to make it sound thrilling, even performing as different characters within the story.

“It was the first sign that she was not only great at improv but had an emotional range she wasn’t even aware of. I feel like she could already do anything she wants – I know that she’d be a better director than me, she’s so talented it’s insane.”

The Home Bargains story has become something of an urban legend in the evolution of Scrapper. Even Regan is concerned that she’s exaggerated the story to the point of making it up – she did promise me it would be included on the DVD extras if her casting director can dig out the tape, so that’s something.

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Naturally, it was the first thing I asked about when speaking to Campbell and her co-lead, Harris Dickinson, who plays the absentee father who returns as her guardian after a decade. The pair have an infectious screen chemistry, with Regan a natural acting alongside the King’s Man and Triangle Of Sadness star – her comic timing and ability to go toe-to-toe with Dickinson in several improvised sequences suggests we should get used to seeing her onscreen.

Campbell still has no idea why Home Bargains was on her mind whilst filming her audition, even if it was the unlikely twist of fate that brought such a promising new star to our screens. She reflected: “I didn’t even realise at the time there were topics I was supposed to speak about – but the shop really speaks to me.

“Where else can you get sweets, apple juice and boxes to organise your stuff?”

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With the interview at risk of turning into an extended advert for a bargain store – Dickinson even remarked that Campbell should be approached for a sponsorship deal once the press tour wrapped – focus soon turned towards the pair’s realistic screen relationship as father and daughter, a dynamic that quickly bled into their real-life interactions. Speaking to the pair together, with the conversation frequently digressing into far sillier topics than the film we’re here to discuss, can often feel like watching a deleted scene.

However, it took a while for that dynamic to build, as Dickinson explained to Zavvi: “We were given rehearsal time, but that bonding didn’t really happen until we arrived at the area where we filmed. It was when we were in that environment and messing around that really helped Lola open up – she was very cautious of me when she first met me, but I don’t know why, I think I have good vibes!

“For a lot of the scenes, we were just given rough guidelines by Charlotte, who was constantly asking us to go with the flow and not be burdened by what was in the script. One of those scenes is when we’re joking around at the rail station, mimicking two people on the opposite platform.

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“Lola didn’t even want to rehearse that one, her mentality throughout filming was “I’ll just do it on the day, don’t worry about it”. And to her credit, she always did it incredibly well.”

At just 27 years old, Dickinson has built up a diverse portfolio of scene-stealing roles, no two of which are remotely similar. In the past year alone, we’ve seen him as an abusive boyfriend (Where The Crawdads Sing), acting legend Richard Attenborough (See How They Run), and a delusional male model (the Best Picture-nominated Triangle of Sadness).

There’s no wonder many have tipped him to be the next James Bond – something he can’t currently discuss due to the ongoing actors’ strike barring him from any conversation around future Hollywood projects but has previously hinted would be a dream role. However, speaking to him about Scrapper, it becomes clear that projects on this scale are the ones he seeks out the most.

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He explained: “We filmed close to where me and Lola both grew up, which I think is why we were able to tap into this very easily and build our dynamic from there. But that isn’t the only reason why I felt this story resonated more than most British working-class stories we see.

“It’s hard to find stories about working class characters that aren’t extreme kitchen sink dramas with bleak, explicit content. What I found interesting here is that Charlotte wanted to bring in humour and magical realism to a similar world, which isn’t something you often find within this genre.”

One of the reasons for this storytelling approach, Regan says, is a “selfish desire to want to have fun with everybody on set”, although this self-deprecating gag does do her film a disservice – despite the levity, this is still a powerful story about a child coming to terms with grief and developing a relationship with a long missing parent. She’s overwhelmed by the positive response, but still struggles to speak to how such a moving story came together.

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She explained: “I haven’t got a clue about how the story I was developing transformed into this. It was originally about a teenage grandson and his nan who were on the run from drug dealers – it had more in common with a Guy Ritchie film at that point, but it kept changing, and over time I lost track of how that story became Scrapper.

“Now, the lead of this story is a blonde girl, and I’m blonde too, so some people have been asking me if this is a personal story, even a biopic. It’s loosely based on the communities I grew up in, but that’s about it – it’s silly how art is so closely tied to our identities, but I can’t stop people reading that into it.

“I just have to remind myself that, if that’s how they’re interpreting the film and they end up hating it, that doesn’t mean that they hate me as a person!”

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Luckily, the glowing critical response to Scrapper suggests it’s more likely people will fall in love with Regan as a filmmaker: I’m certainly eager to see what she does next. Time will tell whether Campbell will appear onscreen again, but the teen star has certainly learnt a lot from her debut movie experience.

“I think the biggest thing I learnt from working with Charlotte”, she concluded, “was how to steal a bike…”

Scrapper is in UK cinemas from Friday, 25th August.

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Alistair Ryder

Alistair Ryder


Alistair is a culture journalist and lover of bad puns from Leeds. Subject yourself to his bad tweets by following him on Twitter @YesItsAlistair.