‘People were panicking over whether I could do the Ian Curtis dance’: how we made Control

‘The first time we played She’s Lost Control they had around 150 Joy Division fans there. I ran to my trailer and vomited. One guy said to me: “You had better be good!”’

Sam Riley, played Ian Curtis

After leaving the National Youth Theatre, I spent a year trying to be an actor then decided I wanted to be a rock star instead. I did that for three years with my band, 10,000 Things, but with moderate to zero success. We played in a pub called the Primrose in Leeds and, because of my appearance, they billed us as “Ian Curtis fronts the Rolling Stones”. I didn’t even know who Ian was. We got dropped by our record label and I ended up in a retail warehouse folding clothes and working in a bar.

I rang my old agent and said that I would do absolutely anything. Control had nothing to do with a deep love of the music of Joy Division – it was pure chance that they were looking for an “Ian” the week I rang. For the casting, I told work I was going to the dentist, but there were three auditions and I kept having to go back. My teeth never looked any better though.

‘We’ve been together ever since’ … Sam Riley and Alexandra Maria Lara.
‘We’ve been together ever since’ … Sam Riley and Alexandra Maria Lara. Photograph: Momentum Pictures/Allstar

My life was a mess in Leeds. I wasn’t in good shape. But I got the job on my 26th birthday and the movie saved me: just by coming to the set, having a purpose, being relied upon, being Ian. Samantha Morton, who played Ian’s wife Debbie, was incredible and led rehearsals. In one scene, she improvised and talked me into a corner. I burst into tears at the end of it. I thought, “Wow! This is acting.” I fell in love with Alexandra Maria Lara, who played the journalist Annik, and we’ve been together ever since, living in Berlin.

I think Anton Corbijn, the director, ended up remortgaging his house because when people heard his lead was some pub rock singer from Leeds, everyone wanted to run. I knew how much he was risking and didn’t want to make any mistakes. Before we started shooting, he asked me to do “the Ian Curtis dance” for him again. Some people were panicking over whether I would do it right.

The concert scenes were insane. In all my previous gigs, I had never had anyone in the audience look at me like that. The first time we were going to play She’s Lost Control, they had around 150 Joy Division fans as the crowd. I ran to my trailer and vomited. As I came out, a guy in his 50s said: “I saw Ian about 10 times. You had better be fuckin’ good!”

Ian was a torn personality: a young, married father and a rock star being pulled towards America and glory, dealing with epilepsy and the side effects of medication. He was just a boy. I wonder if that’s what I was like: confident on stage, insecure in life. Maybe that’s why Anton hired me.

During rehearsals, we went to see New Order play. That was strange. Backstage, all the actors playing band members sought out their corresponding musician – and I obviously couldn’t.

Anton Corbijn, director

‘I didn’t believe I was capable of it’ … Anton Corbijn.
‘I didn’t believe I was capable of it’ … Anton Corbijn. Photograph: Stephan Vanfleteren

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The Terence Davies Trilogy

The autobiographical films of Terence Davies are not simply nostalgic journeys into the director’s past; they are piercing insights into the filmmaker’s turbulent early life. While Distant Voices, Still Lives (1988), The Long Day Closes (1992) and Of Time and the City (2008) are feature-length depictions of the people and places he knew growing up, the three short films that comprise The Terence Davies Trilogy  – Children (1976), Madonna and Child (1980) and Death and Transfiguration (1983) –are the earliest looks at the filmmaker’s life, focusing on the solitary figure of Robert Tucker. Just as François Truffaut showcased the adventures of Antoine Doinel (Jean-Pierre Léaud), his surrogate self, across five films, the character of Tucker (played by a range of actors across the three films) is a stand-in for Davies. Continue reading

Kenneth Branagh Brings ‘Artemis Fowl’ From The Page To The Screen

“Artemis Fowl,” the popular children’s fantasy book series by author Eoin Colfer, premieres Friday on Disney +.

Source: Kenneth Branagh Brings ‘Artemis Fowl’ From The Page To The Screen

Listen to the WBUR interview

“They liked his naughty side. They liked his adversarial side. They liked him taking on the fairies. They liked his cleverness. They liked his arrogance. Eoin Colfer, the author of the books, described the idea as putting an 11-year-old [James] Bond villain into an action movie and the first one he described as ‘‘Die Hard’ with fairies.’ ”

Kenneth Branaugh

Left-wing British film and television producer Tony Garnett dead at 83

Garnett’s career spanned 50 years, but he is identified above all with one of the most significant and creative periods in the history of television drama in the UK.

The highly respected film and television producer, writer and director Tony Garnett died on January 12 after a short illness, aged 83.

Garnett was born Anthony Edward Lewis on April 3, 1936, into a working-class family in Birmingham. His mother died when he was just five years old, of septicaemia two days after a backstreet abortion during the Second World War. His father, a munitions worker, committed suicide 19 days later.

Tony Garnett
Tony Garnett

Garnett’s career spanned 50 years, but he is identified above all with one of the most significant and creative periods in the history of television drama in the UK.

Originally an actor, he appeared in television’s The Boys (1962) and Z Cars (1962) and played several small parts in An Age of Kings (1960), the BBC’s influential production of Shakespeare’s history plays.

He moved behind the camera when he was hired as an assistant story editor at the BBC working on The Wednesday Play, which ran from October 1964 to May 1970 and aired more than 170 plays.

This famed series, which addressed social issues before an audience of millions, included the likes of Up the Junction (1965, about abortion), Cathy Come Home (1966, about homelessness), The Lump (1967, about casualised labour in the building industry), In Two Minds (1971, about mental illness as a social problem) and The Big Flame (1969, about a workers’ revolt on the docks), all produced by Garnett. During this period he began long associations with writer Jim Allen, dramatist David Mercer and, most notably, director Ken Loach.

His producing credits include Loach’s Kes (1969), After a Lifetime (1971), Family Life (1971—the film version of In Two Minds), Days of Hope (1975), The Price of Coal (1977) and Black Jack (1978), as well as Roy Battersby’s The Body (1970), Mike Leigh’s Hard Labour (1973), Julien Temple’s Earth Girls Are Easy (1985), Roland Joffe’s Fat Man and Little Boy (1989) and Hettie Macdonald’s Beautiful Thing (1996).

Garnett came into contact with Gerry Healy and the Socialist Labour League, the British Trotskyists, in the late 1960s. Although he never joined the Trotskyist movement, he was instrumental in organising discussions among actors, writers and directors, including Loach, Mercer, Roy Battersby and Corin and Vanessa Redgrave, that led to important gains within these circles. Playwright Trevor Griffiths depicted those meetings in his play, The Party (1973).

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