One Direction, one director, one exhausting interview: Harry, Zayn, Niall, Liam and Louis spill the beans on Morgan Spurlock's film This Is Us

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

They’ve sold millions of records, girls faint at their concerts and they’re gossip-page regulars. But no one really knows them, so they’re  making a behind-the-scenes documentary for their fans, One Direction tell Emma Jones

Interviewing all of One Direction in a room together is like being ushered into a zoo and asked to keep order in the chimpanzee house. The boys – Harry Styles, Zayn Malik, Liam Payne, Louis Tomlinson and Niall Horan – are shrieking exuberance and energy, even halfway through a gruelling nine-month world tour. They bounce on their chairs; interrupt each other, create the kind of chaos that leaves teenage girls fainting and screaming in their wake. Frankly, they’re exhausting.

Their zookeeper today is documentary maker Morgan Spurlock, red of moustache and avuncular in his indulgence of his partly-teenage protégés. He looks pleased to be near them. So he should, because the Oscar nominee has been “Super-Sized” to make a film on the biggest band in the world at the moment. One Direction: This Is Us is described as an “intimate, behind the scenes look at their real lives”.

Life though has been anything but real for One Direction, even since the five of them were meshed into a band by the Machiavellian hands of Simon Cowell on the X-Factor in 2010. They came third in the show but have gone on to sell around 30 million records –their second album, Take Me Home, was number one in 35 countries – and are chased by girls everywhere they go. They’re outside the concert venues, in the hotel lobbies, outside their mothers’ houses and a few have probably delivered themselves, Cleopatra-style in a carpet, to their dressing rooms. With such fans, what on earth don’t they already know about  One Direction?

“Lots,” says Harry Styles earnestly, his angelic face furrowed with concentration. “This was really a bit of a thank you to fans really, for sticking with us. We wanted to show them the real us, because social media and  interviews don’t really give you the chance to get to know someone. I  really think this will help.”

Like all groups, One Direction are locked up together for long periods of time; after three years they can finish each others’ sentences. There are band dynamics within the band: Harry and Louis do most of the talking; they have a rapport, which means Twitter constantly speculates as to whether they’re an item. They jabber like magpies when asked a question, but if you want a serious, considered answer, it’s Harry Styles who will deliver it, after the others have finished chirruping; this boy is more than the serial lothario (with whichever sex he’s  rumoured to prefer) pictured on the media’s sidebars of shame L-r, Zayn Malik, Niall Horan, Liam Payne, Harry Styles and Louis Tomlinson in Tri Star Pictures' Zayn Malik, Niall Horan, Liam Payne, Harry Styles and Louis Tomlinson in Tri Star Pictures' "One Direction: This Is Us."

So when asked why they chose Spurlock to direct the film, the others shout out “his jacket” or “his moustache”, but Styles patiently waits until they’ve finished, and adds: “We really liked his style of filmmaking. Whatever Morgan does, he always seems to get right into it – he immerses himself into that world. And that’s what we wanted; it’s nerve-wracking letting people into our lives, even if cameras were following us around on the X-Factor for 10  weeks. We needed someone we could trust because we were actually scared. But we’ve never said to him: ‘Stop filming, this is private.’ We really did want everything about us to go in.”

Forty-two-year-old Spurlock, famous for eating fast food for a month in Super Size Me, has made other documentaries, such as 2008’s Where in the World Is Osama Bin Laden? but has wanted to do a music documentary for some time: “There’s great potential there, kind of like A Hard Days Night or The Monkees.” Turned down by both Katy Perry and Justin Bieber to direct their personal outpourings on tour, Spurlock seems to have clicked with these Anglo-Irish boys half his age:

Zayn Malik, Liam Payne, Harry Styles, Niall Horan and Louis Tomlinson in TriStar Pictures' One Direction: This Is Us. Zayn Malik, Liam Payne, Harry Styles, Niall Horan and Louis Tomlinson in TriStar Pictures' One Direction: This Is Us. “I do understand something of what is like because after my breakthrough with Super Size Me everything went a bit nuts for me too. And then people were pretty quick to say, ‘Oh who’s this idiot – he’s got no chance.’ So I understand what the boys go through when they’re dismissed as little mannequins who dance and sing. But mainly, we built a rapport just through hanging out. They could see that I was investing in them, and they came to allow themselves to be vulnerable to me,  I think.”

Spurlock does get some great  material for the film: Zayn buying a house for his mother; Niall’s quiet musings with his brother before a family wedding; Martin Scorsese bringing his daughter backstage after a gig. However “unscripted” it’s billed to be, however, it can hardly be  un-coordinated, when One Direction are run by Simon Cowell’s Syco machine. The boys insist they have asked for nothing to be left out so far – “even when we look really stupid” – and that final say will go to Spurlock, not Cowell. But their image is still heavily protected on screen; their fans are highly sensitive. A recent, slightly negative Channel 4 documentary about the fans themselves was rumoured (again by fans) to have caused a number of suicides, although not one has yet been confirmed or substantiated. Harry Styles in One Direction: This Is Us. Harry Styles in One Direction: This Is Us.

“Some of the girls are crazy,” recalls Spurlock, clearly still flabbergasted. “The boys have such a security apparatus around them constantly just to protect them. If they walk outside they will be mobbed, they will be chased. Their tour bus is chased down the street by hundreds of girls after the show. So for us it was trying to maintain this intimacy; but safety was a big concern because you don’t want to do something where someone will actually get hurt.

“Their families, too – I mean they have millions of Twitter followers just off the back of the boys, and have suffered terrible intrusion over the past three years. I am really grateful that they allowed my cameras in considering what they’ve had to put up with.”

 “I don’t know why the girls love us so much,” shrugs Styles – who gets most of the attention, although clean-cut blond, Irish-born Niall Horan  recently took the crown as most popular member in a recent poll. “I think it’s because we don’t pretend to be anything we’re not. Yes, we can be idiots at times. We’re like those boys in the back of class throwing paper and making a noise. I think girls can relate to us in that classroom way; we’re just normal lads.”

All five are now certainly too old to be throwing paper in classrooms: they range from the ages of 19 to 21. The last part of their education has taken place in lunatic conditions, with 19-year-old Liam Payne remembering with wonder that “the first few gigs we ever did, in some nightclubs, girls were fainting and getting pulled out of the audience. We thought it was the strangest thing we ever saw. I didn’t think any of us would get used to the screaming, and that reaction. It’s just mad.”

Now, clearly, it’s normal for them, with Styles confessing that “even when you’re having a bad day, the energy of 50,000 screaming fans is what lifts you. You can’t go out on stage with a scowl. They keep us going.”

Surely at some point, as with all boy bands, this bubble will burst and one of them will break out, be photographed, wild-eyed and drunk, at Glastonbury. But right now, they’re remarkably sober about their success. “Helping the people we love,” says Styles. “Out of all the success we have had, the fact that we have been put in a position to do something tangible for them is the best thing we have achieved so far.”

‘One Direction: This Is Us’ has its UK premiere tonight and is released nationwide on 29 August

One Direction throw popcorn at the launch of This Is Us One Direction throw popcorn at the launch of This Is Us

Arts and Entertainment
Characters in the new series are based on real people, say its creators, unlike Arya and Clegane the Dog in ‘Game of Thrones’
tv'The Last Kingdom' embraces politics, religion, warfare, courage, love and loyalty, say creators
Arts and Entertainment
Unless films such as Guardians of the Galaxy, pictured, can buck the trend, this summer could be the first in 13 years that not a single Hollywood blockbuster takes $300m

film
Arts and Entertainment
Miley Cyrus has her magic LSD brain stolen in this crazy video produced with The Flaming Lips

music
News
peopleThe Game of Thrones author said speculation about his health and death was 'offensive'
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
The new film will be shot in the same studios as the Harry Potter films

books
Arts and Entertainment
Duncan Bannatyne left school at 15 and was still penniless at 29

Bannatyne leaves Dragon's Den

TV
Arts and Entertainment
The French economist Thomas Piketty wrote that global inequality has worsened

books
Arts and Entertainment
David Tennant and Benedict Cumberbatch

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Affleck plays a despondent Nick Dunne in David Fincher's 'Gone Girl'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Pete Doherty (L) and Carl Barât look at the scene as people begin to be crushed

music
Arts and Entertainment

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Pete Doherty and Caral Barat of The Libertines performs on stage at British Summer Time Festival at Hyde Park

music
Arts and Entertainment
Ariana Grande and Iggy Azalea perform on stage at the Billboard Music Awards 2014

music
Arts and Entertainment

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Zina Saro-Wiwa

art
Arts and Entertainment
All-new couples 'Come Dine With Me'

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Black Sabbath's Ozzy Osbourne
musicReview: BST Hyde Park, London
Arts and Entertainment
Ed Gamble and Amy Hoggart star in Almost Royal burning bright productions
tvTV comedy following British ‘aristos’ is accused of mocking the trusting nature of Americans
Arts and Entertainment
Sassoon threw his Military Cross into the Mersey
booksAn early draft of ‘Atrocities’ shows the anti-war sentiment was toned down before publication
Arts and Entertainment
Actors and technicians on the march against changes made by Hollande
theatreOpening performances of the Avignon theatre festival cancelled as actors and technicians walk out
Arts and Entertainment
Kanye West performed in a chain mail mask at Wireless Festival in Finsbury Park
Rapper booed at Wireless over bizarre rant
Arts and Entertainment

They're back, they're big – and they're still spectacularly boring

film
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

    The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

    A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

    The German people demand an end to the fighting
    New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

    New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

    For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
    Can scientists save the world's sea life from

    Can scientists save our sea life?

    By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
    Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

    Richard III review

    Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice
    Hollywood targets Asian audiences as US films enjoy record-breaking run at Chinese box office

    Hollywood targets Asian audiences

    The world's second biggest movie market is fast becoming the Hollywood studios' most crucial
    Grindr founder Joel Simkhai: 'I've found love on my dating app - and my mum keeps trying to hook me up!'

    Grindr founder Joel Simkhai: 'I've found love on my dating app'

    Five years on from its launch and Grindr is the world's most popular dating app for gay men. Its founder Joel Simkhai answers his critics, describes his isolation as a child
    Autocorrect has its uses but it can go rogue with embarrassing results - so is it time to ditch it?

    Is it time to ditch autocorrect?

    Matthew J X Malady persuaded friends to message manually instead, but failed to factor in fat fingers and drunk texting
    10 best girls' summer dresses

    Frock chick: 10 best girls' summer dresses

    Get them ready for the holidays with these cool and pretty options 
    Westminster’s dark secret: Adultery, homosexuality, sadomasochism and abuse of children were all seemingly lumped together

    Westminster’s dark secret

    Adultery, homosexuality, sadomasochism and abuse of children were all seemingly lumped together
    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Dulce et decorum est - a life cut short for a poet whose work achieved immortality

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

    Dulce et decorum est: a life cut short for a poet whose work achieved immortality
    Google tells popular music website to censor album cover art in 'sexually explicit content' ban

    Naked censorship?

    The strange case of Google, the music website and the nudity take-down requests
    Howzat! 8 best cricket bats

    Howzat! 8 best cricket bats

    As England take on India at Trent Bridge, here is our pick of the high-performing bats to help you up your run-count this summer 
    Brazil vs Germany World Cup 2014 comment: David Luiz falls from leader figure to symbol of national humiliation

    David Luiz falls from leader figure to symbol of national humiliation

    Captain appears to give up as shocking 7-1 World Cup semi-final defeat threatens ramifications in Brazil