James Purefoy has spoken about raising awareness of men’s mental wellbeing in his latest film, describing it as part of the “massive jigsaw of mental health”.
The 58-year-old British actor stars in the upcoming comedy Fisherman’s Friends: One And All, which comes as a sequel to the 2019 film Fisherman’s Friends.
Speaking about the role cinema is able to play in tackling the stigma around men’s mental health, Purefoy, who plays the film’s protagonist Jim, told the PA news agency: “I’m not saying it’s world-breaking or intensely profound in any way, but what I’m saying is that it’s all part of the massive jigsaw of mental health.”
While specifically referring to blue-collar, middle-aged men like his character Jim, who may be less inclined to be open about their feelings, Purefoy added: “This (the film) is just one tiny piece, which is to say it’s OK to talk about things, to talk about feelings, and if you’re finding things difficult, and if you’re finding that your emotions are squeaking out sideways, then maybe there’s a bigger issue involved somewhere.
“Find a health professional, talk to your husband, or your wife, talk to your dad, your mum, talk to your mate, find some way of discussing it.
“It doesn’t make you less manly, to talk about your feelings, I think, is the bottom line here.”
The sequel follows Fisherman’s Friends – a sea-shanty-singing group based on a real life band of the same name – as they struggle with their second album after the high of performing on the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury Festival.
In the film, Purefoy’s character Jim has turned to alcohol after struggling to cope with the loss of his father.
Speaking about his character’s struggles, Purefoy said: “He’s not really dealing with the death of his father terribly well, and that is squeaking out sideways.”
He went on: “I think a lot of blokes, and I’m using that word quite specifically, find it hard to talk about their feelings and emotions.
“And sometimes if they have an emotional trauma, they sit on it and they don’t talk about it… And it manifests itself in other ways.
“Jim has started drinking too much and he’s being very grumpy and quite angry and blaming the band and blaming his family for what’s going on around him. But actually, the core of what he’s going through is the fact that he’s not dealt with the death of his father.”
The actor, who is also known for his roles in 2009 film Solomon Kane and psychological crime drama series The Following, went on to speak about the risks involved with suffering in silence.
“The suicide rates among men are three times higher in this age group, between the ages of 40 and 60, than they are with women,” he told PA.
“And it’s not because of the biological fact that they’re men, it’s the fact that they have a social construct around them, that stops them talking about it.”
He added: “It’s that social construct, which then can have disastrous consequences when you have an emotional trauma of some kind. Because you will not talk about it, and you will end up perhaps taking your own life… The ripple effect of it is so disastrous, not least on the person who has taken their own life, but all the people around them.
“It’s throwing a massive rock into your pond, if you like. It can have disastrous consequences on everybody else around you.”
Fisherman’s Friends: One and All is in UK cinemas from August 19.