Jake Scott - Life of Riley for the son of Ridley

Jake Scott comes from directing royalty. He tells Kaleem Aftab about his second film

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The Independent Culture

Jake Scott is part of Britain's best-known directing dynasty. His dad is Blade Runner director Ridley, his uncle Tony made Top Gun and his sister Jordan made the Eva Green movie Cracks. When Jake made his feature film debut, highwayman action adventure Plunkett & Macleane, in 1999, he'd already made a string of heralded music videos and was being talked about as the next big thing in British film-making, but it never quite happened for him. Eleven years on, the 46-year-old has finally made his sophomore film.

Welcome to the Rileys stars James Gandolfini, Melissa Leo and Kristen Stewart. Set in New Orleans, it sees Twilight superstar Stewart in her most adult role, playing a pole dancer befriended by a grieving Gandolfini, whose marriage has been disintegrating ever since the death of his daughter. In an unusual arrangement, he offers to pay the stripper $100 a day to allow him to stay in her run-down house. The film has been in development since 2006 and Scott says putting together such a stellar cast was almost accidental.

"I was quite worried about casting James and he asked for the meeting, he wanted to meet because he loved the script and he loved the character, and so I took the meeting and in the meeting I realised that he was really perfect for it," says the director. "Kristen... at that point she hadn't done Twilight, she had done a shoot just before us and Twilight came out when we were in editing and so while we were making the film I didn't know that she was ever going to be this megastar."

When I put it to Jake that if Twilight had exploded, the role might have been considered too risqué by Stewart's agent, he retorts, "She wanted to do it, because she wants to prove herself as a credible actor, I suppose."

Strippers seem to be a favourite subject of movie directors. There is an inordinate amount of movie roles in Hollywood requiring women to act alongside poles, and Scott tries to downplay this.

"Movies about strippers are cinematic clichés. I was more interested in the damaged child, I thought she was an interesting character on paper and I tried to keep the stripper aspect quite subtle. The film has more to do with that relationship between the father and the girl." The strength of Welcome to the Rileys is in how it treats grief, and it was this aspect that most touched the director.

"I'm a dad and I think that was a big part of my response to the script," he explains. "My mother-in-law [lost her] son who was my age to cancer 10 years ago and a girl who I was very attached to as a kid died of a heroin overdose aged just 20. I had not forgotten about her, but I had not contemplated her for years and I suppose in some ways there are some very personal experiences that I can relate to in the story." His dad and uncle serve as producers on Welcome to the Rileys.

Scott has directed a number of music videos produced by his father's company Ridley Scott Associates, and its offshoot Black Dog films, for musicians such as U2, Oasis, George Michael and Lily Allen. Meanwhile, his next film is likely to be a biopic on the musician Jeff Buckley, who died at 30 while swimming. Jake says the Ridley family name can carry baggage.

"Of course it will do. Those that are aware of it comment on it and others who don't know are quickly made aware of it. I think that is always going to be the case, and I don't know how you get around that, and it's something that I'm not really bothered by. It doesn't really matter, because at the end of the day you make the film that you want to make and if people like it, they like it and if they think it's bollocks... people thought Plunkett was bollocks and maybe they were right... then maybe they are going to give you a bit more of a slagging because of where you've come from."

'Welcome to the Rileys' is out on 18 November