The two actors tell the true story of a man who turns to the world of drag queens to save his business

British films seem to do very well in America. But why is that? Is it because we just don't truly understand the jokes and just laugh anyway? Or is it because American's just like to enjoy real humor?

Well, in the same lines of The Full Monty comes Kinky Boots. The movie is based on the true story of a shoe factory owner who finds a new way of making money - by hooking up with drag queens and making specialty boots for their shows. Joel Edgerton plays the factory owner, Charlie Price; he's never wanted to take over the family business, but when his father dies he reluctantly accepts the position.

Joel is Australian, so he really didn't know much about the British story. "Yeah, I made the phone call saying to my agent, 'I really like this theme.' She said, 'Do you realize that it's a true story?' I'm like, 'No, this can't be a true story.' Subsequently, I've met Steve Bateman, who the story's about, and got to meet his family. And it is quite a remarkable true story, especially once you go to the place and you meet this guy, and you look at the town, and you can't put all the elements together and work out how this guy ended up making these boots and getting away with it in a town like that."

The main drag queen in the story is 'Lola.' played by Chiwetel Ejiofor, who also had to play Lola's male counterpart, Simon; he not only had to get used to the outfits, but also the singing. Chiwetel performed all the songs himself while up on stage. "It took quite a long time, I think, almost when we started really shooting it. We had quite a long period of rehearsals and choreography and getting used to all the different aspects of it. There was a lot of preparation time, and then also putting together the music and choreographing stuff with the rest of the guys doing all the numbers. But it took all the time that we had, really, to really feel completely sort of comfortable and almost become a kind of idea, or sort of second nature, and just sort of turning up and getting into the makeup chair and the transformation beginning."

It was a rude awakening the first time Chiwetel looked in the mirror to see him all done up. "I think when I first had my eyebrows waxed, I was pretty disturbed. But then all of that was sort of geared towards creating this kind of character which all of that sort of helped do, really. Even the trepidation and the sort of nervous energy was all a great part of learning about Simon and Lola and the character research, in its own way."

Being on set for the two stars was a great way to hang out and get to know each other. Joel told us even after the shoots were done for the night, they would go out to the pubs and get a drink or two. "It was a bit hard to keep Chiwetel and I away from each other once we hit Northampton and went out. We admittedly clicked as people, so we had a great time working together on set and had a great time socializing off. I think those relationships do find their way onto the screen. And as you say, we sort of tried to make sure that that doesn't encroach upon the parts where we're supposed to be cautious of each other or not understand each other too well."

All Chiwetel could talk about was having to go out with fake fingernails. "Because I had the whole sort of waxed eyebrows and acrylic nails situation, my nails weren't removable; obviously I couldn't put on fake eyebrows at the end of the day, and so if I was walking out on the street or to the local pub or whatever, to all intents and purposes, I looked like an off-duty drag queen. And initially, I was very much at pains to kind of explain I was doing this movie and it wasn't really. I think it was a really good way of understanding the character and some of the challenges of that in a city that is supposedly as kind of liberal and so on as London. It was very, very interesting to see the world in that way. And also, it was a very good way of sort of re-understanding a character."

Joel even got a chance to walk in the 'kinky boots' on set and said they felt rather uncomfortable. "Well, yeah, they are just hard to walk in anyway. I think men or women, no matter how much experience you've got, after a certain amount of time they're going to hurt you. But I've had experience of it before because I've been in a play where I had to wear high heels. Coming to it again 10 years later, I didn't realize how much like riding a bike it was - I put them back on, stood up, and went, 'Oh, this is alright. I'm not going to fall over."

And Joel got to take home a present from the set. "I've got a pair of Steve's original boots; I've got a pair of the boots that Steve made. His company is called Divine Footwear; the boots that were made in the film were extra-reinforced for the dancing and they had an extra sort of sparkle about them. They were diamante kind of things stuck on the bottom. And they had a certain kind of special design at the top of the boots so that you really could do anything in them. Well, when you say anything, I don't recommend playing basketball in them."

For Chiwetel, being in the clubs was his favorite part; he really got to play around and become Lola. "There's always going to be in a script a few scenes that are always in the back of your mind, and you're always thinking, 'Well, I've got to go and do that scene.' And I think for me, a central part of Lola was always songs, and these costumes, and

whatever, and this club, and the kind of the drag show. And we'd spend a lot of time working on the different looks and so on. And so when that sort of came around, I was excited and I was nervous and everybody there, all the background people, were of that world. When we first started doing the shows, people weren't sure what this was going to be in a sense. So they didn't know whether this was going to be some sort of pastiche, whether it was some sort of spoof. So people were sort of gently cynical about the whole thing in a perfectly reasonable way. So I was thrilled that everybody, once they saw what we were doing, kind of just really got into it. And then we just had a great time doing the show, so I enjoyed that."

Both Joel and Chiwetel are working on new movies right now. In fact, Joel is going completely opposite of his role in this film for his next. He'll be playing a child kidnapper in Hellion. "I love those kind of shifts; I love that stuff. I wouldn't want to just be doing these comedies for the rest of my life. I guess one of the reasons Chiwetel and I get along as people as well is that our attitude to work is very similar. We both are just really interested in the characters that we play and not really choosing anything about the writing."

In Hellion, Joel is "the crazy guy. I was the crazy, sort of unpredictable, one with a mustache and a shaved head. I play probably the worst guy in the movie except that we underestimate the child."

Chiwetel is tackling the Alfonso Cuaron film, The Children of Men. He'll play opposite Julianne Moore in the flick. "It's sort of set a short time in the future with general sort of political societal collapses as well as these issues of fertility that have created a very enraged and complex society, and it's based on the Peter James novel. Alfonso, I think, has adapted and written a terrific script, and a really good cast of people have come together to shoot the film. And I think he's an amazing director. And I think the work that we were doing on the film is just exceptional. It's one of those things that I don't think anybody's ever really seen before, and I think it's really going to be quite interesting to see when it comes out."

He and Julianne are "heads of an anti-government group that is sort of existing on the fringes of society, and we sort of try to get the allegiance of Clive Owens' character."

Kinky Boots is a very enjoyable story; you'll be easily entertained and you'll probably come out smiling. And to top it off, the soundtrack is awesome; it's highlighted by five songs performed by Chiwetel himself.

Kinky Boots is open in limited theaters; look for a wide release soon. It's rated PG-13.

Cinemark Movie Club