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SID & NANCY

 

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SID & NANCY

 

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SID & NANCY
 

DID 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 question:   "How 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 sex.   And 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 they cancelled. 

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.