Film

Luke Treadaway: Sleeping rough was the least I could do for Street Cat Bob

In an exclusive conversation for The Big Issue, Luke Treadaway and James Bowen recalled the “night under the stars” they spent together

Luke Treadaway in A Christmas Gift From Bob

Luke Treadaway play James Bowen in A Christmas Gift From Bob Photo: Andreas Lambis

Luke Treadaway and James Bowen have revealed the night they spent sleeping rough together in preparation for the filming of the first Street Cat Bob movie, back in 2016.

A Street Cat Named Bob is based on former Big Issue seller James Bowen’s autobiography, and tells the story of how he turned his life around with a bit of help from magazine and a very special ginger cat called Bob.

Luke Treadaway played James in the original movie and in this year’s sequel, A Christmas Gift from Bob. To celebrate the new movie’s release, the pair got together for a conversation especially for The Big Issue and discussed their very first meeting.

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“Luke called me up and invited me round to his place in Highgate. So, I came down that evening and Luke opened the door and invited me in. I’d brought Bob with me to meet Luke,” said James.

“We just hung out and talked about the script and we got along great.”

I remember that evening very, very well. It was incredible,” said Luke. “It was just before we started [filming] as well. I felt like I had done all I could to find out who you were and then suddenly you were there in my living room. It was just joyful.”

To give Luke some idea of what his life was like before he became an internationally renowned author, James took the award-winning actor out to sleep rough for a night on London’s streets. 

“Before filming started, we went out busking in central London and had a night under the stars,” said Luke.

“I hadn’t had to do that before. I felt that it was the least that anyone should do before attempting to tell this story.”

James said it was important to him that Luke put the effort in to try and understand what it’s like to be homeless. 

“I appreciated very much that he took it so much to heart,” said James. “I have to say, Luke, you seem to get my general demeanour and energy very well.”

“That’s the best and only review I could ever ask for,” said Luke, though he acknowledged that one night sleeping outdoors couldn’t possibly recreate James’s experience of homelessness.

“I didn’t even get a jist of an understanding. But it was a sniff of a jist of an understanding, if you know what I mean?” said Luke. “I felt that I had to get to that, at least.”

James and Luke’s special Christmas conversation will be available in The Big Issue soon. Subscribe to the magazine now to make sure you don’t miss out.

A Christmas Gift from Bob is out now to rent. For more information on how you can see the film, check out our guide.

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