Louis Theroux is well known out there as one of the most fearless, innovative and original documentary makers around, but it turns out that he even he has been scared one time during his illustrious career.
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Speaking in order to promote his new series Dark States – which premieres on BBC 2 this Sunday – Louis spoke about this occasion to our friends over at VICE:
Touch wood, I’ve largely been quite lucky.
The situations that have been the most frightening tend to be off camera, because you haven’t reached that trust level where you feel comfortable starting to film, or the situation has broken down to the point where you no longer feel comfortable filming.
One of the most nerve-racking moments I had was doing the alcohol documentary, Drinking to Oblivion, and we were in a south London flat.
There was a guy that was mentally ill and another guy that seemed emotionally unstable, and we were going to shoot a sequence, and it became clear that this is not going to go well, and the mentally ill guy was going, “I’m not having that fucking camera anywhere near me,” so I said, “It’s fine, mate, we’ll just quietly go,” then one of them put their arm around my neck as though to throttle me, and the other one said, “Oi, if anyone’s going to do him then it’s going to be me,” and I remember just thinking, ‘Wow, he’s going to snap my neck.’
He was ex-Army, too, which suggests that he might actually know how to do that. I don’t remember how we got out of there, and not a frame of film was shot.
I got out and thought, ‘That was ridiculous.’ It’s one thing to be on location in the West Bank or Lagos and to feel nervous, but the idea that I was going to meet my dreary demise in a social housing estate in south London, close to where I grew up, just felt all wrong.
Yeah that does sound worrying, but considering the fact Louis has gone up against Neo-Nazis, sex offenders, murderers and the church of Scientology, it seems kinda crazy that this was actually the most fearful occasion that he’s encountered over his career. Guess sometimes it’s the devil you know more than the devil you don’t.
For more Louis Theroux, check out the trailer to Dark States. Another instant classic no doubt.