YOU DO A LOT OF JUNK PREPARING FOR SID & NANCY?
No. Did John Wayne really shoot the Indians off their horses? Did
Orson Welles buy a newspaper business to prepare for CITIZEN KANE?
A noted film director even asked me this
much smack did those actors do?" I could only
tell him the ol' yarn about Dustin Hoffman and Laurence Olivier
when they were making MARATHON MAN:
Dustin, in the process of "getting into character" tells
Larry that he is going to the dentist to have a tooth filled without
anesthetic, so that he will know what it feels like to be tortured
with a dentist's drill.
"Dustin," asks Sir Larry gently, "Have
you ever tried... acting?"
IS THE FILM PRO-DRUG OR ANTI-DRUG?
Is it pro-love or anti-love? I hope it does
not depict being a junky in too positive a light. Gary and
Chloe are great actors; their performances are outstanding. Perhaps
as the director I sentimentalized the end. The true lives
of junkies are sadder, even worse.
On the other hand there is this junky chic
now; photos of
truly wretched-looking individuals are plastered the sides of buses
in an effort to sell us jeans. This upsets me more than any drama
- along with the other kind of propaganda (on milk cartons in in
sneaker ads) that says, "Don't do drugs; do sports." Sports
are far worse than drugs. They encourage brutishness
and violence as a means of problem-solving. They cause
large mobs to chant nationalistic slogans. O.J. Simpson
is the perfect product of the sports industry. And
the sneaker ads are as pernicious: they encourage demented
and repetitive behaviour and wanton consumption of overpriced stuff
made by slaves. Consumerism (other than of products available
from this website) and sports are almost as bad as the military
addiction most of the nations of the planet are hooked on.
Pot smoking, on the other hand, encourages
pacifism, appreciation of the arts, eating and sex. Particularly
this, I think, is why it is so diligently banned.
HOW DID YOU FIND CHLOE WEBB AND GARY OLDMAN?
Chloe was a stage actress. I met her through
Miguel Sandoval (who portrays the A&R Man on the Texas bus
tour); he had acted in a play with her in Los Angeles. Gary
was also a stage actor: I saw him in a War Play at the Barbican
in London; he
had done some good TV work too. For Sid we were doubly lucky
because another then-unknown London stage actor was interested
in the role: Daniel Day Lewis.
DANIEL DAY LEWIS WANTED TO PLAY SID?
Yes. And I think he would have been very good, too. He
gives one the impression of possessing a soul, and would probably
have handled the romantic aspect well. But Gary was
an authentic Bermonsey boy - from the same part of London, the
same world as Sid - and he really understood the ambitious aspect,
the desperate need to get out of South London at all costs...
The project was also fortunate to have a
great, spontaneous producer - Eric Fellner - and supportive executives
at Zenith - Margaret Matheson and Charles Denton. They
gave us great leeway in casting. We were under no obligation
to cast "stars." And
everyone auditioned - Gary, Chloe, David Hayman, Xander Berkeley
- just as the actors had on REPO MAN.
DID YOU SEE THE LATEST SEX PISTOLS TOUR?
No. I planned to. I was
in Mexico City, finishing DEATH & THE COMPASS, and the Pistols
were due to play a gig there. It would have been a
strange sight, the Pistols playing in a big stadium for a crowd
of yuppies and Mexico's ten punks, 20 years later... But
ARE THERE NO PUNKS IN MEXICO?
Very few. The Mexicans have enough real disasters
and tragedies. To
make your artistic statement by becoming a "walking disaster
area" would seem absurd: there is too much real poverty and
repression; art is more actively politicized.
He hated it. Which was understandable,
given that it was based on incidents from his life and centered
around one of his friends.
At the same time, he was quite generous to
the production. He
and I had a nice meeting in the bar at the Mayflower Hotel in New
York to discuss the script over several Sea Breezes. And
he graciously invited Andrew Schofield, who played him in the film,
from Liverpool to New York to study him.
Drew had a fascinating lightning trip in
which John took him round the happening venues of the day, and
tried to persuade him that he should play the role of Johnny
Rotten as a SCOUSER. He
did not, of course. Neither Drew nor I can recall any further
details of our meetings with Mr. Lydon, perhaps due to the enormous
quantities of sea breezes consumed.
WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT THE FILM NOW?
Though I do think we erred towards the sentimental,
I'm glad we made it. Because in the mid-80's there was the threat
of a rival Sid & Nancy film - a Madonna vehicle, with Rupert
Everett, financed by a Hollywood studio.. This was
before Rupert Everett was a good actor. I felt under an obligation
to struggle against that studio project, fearing it would be even
worse than mine.
I'm also most impressed by the technical
aspects. The art
department - Andrew McAlpine in London and Rae Fox & Linda
Burbank in the States - is outstanding, particularly Andrew's stage
set for "My Way," and Fox & Burbank's recreations
of the Chelsea Hotel rooms. And the photography of Roger
Deakins is extraordinary -- particularly the illumination
and movement in the final scenes.
And I very much like that sequence which
Abbe Wool improvised - the one of Sid and Nancy kissing in the
alley with the garbage falling all around. She invented that scene, which was shot
by Roger, when we lost a location at the last minute and had to
improvise a bridging scene. In some ways it's the best moment
in the film. Pray For Rain apparently find that piece of
music being used by directors and editors when they hear the "demo" version
of films they're supposed to score.
THE IMAGE WAS ALSO USED ON THE POSTER.
On the American poster, yes. And if you compare it to the
original scene you'll see those aren't really the legs of Chloe
Webb! Chloe's legs, which are fantastic, still weren't enough
for the marketing department. They photographed the legs
of a BARBIE DOLL for the poster. Which is somewhat ironic,
since in the film Nancy complains she'll never have legs like Barbie's.