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
books
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and the Dalek meet
tvReview: Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Arts and Entertainment
Star turns: Montacute House
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Iain reacts to his GBBO disaster

TV
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Simon Cowell is less than impressed with the Strictly/X Factor scheduling clash

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Gothic revival: artist Dave McKean’s poster for Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination
Exhibition
Arts and Entertainment
Diana Beard has left the Great British Bake Off 2014

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Lisa Kudrow, Courtney Cox and Jennifer Anniston reunite for a mini Friends sketch on Jimmy Kimmel Live

TV
Arts and Entertainment
TVDessert week was full of the usual dramas as 'bingate' ensued
Arts and Entertainment
Clara and the twelfth Doctor embark on their first adventure together
TVThe regulator received six complaints on Saturday night
Arts and Entertainment
Vinyl demand: a factory making the old-style discs
musicManufacturers are struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl
Arts and Entertainment
David Baddiel concedes his show takes its inspiration from the hit US series 'Modern Family'
comedyNew comedy festival out to show that there’s more to Jewish humour than rabbi jokes
Arts and Entertainment
Puff Daddy: One Direction may actually be able to use the outrage to boost their credibility

music
Arts and Entertainment
Suha Arraf’s film ‘Villa Touma’ (left) is set in Ramallah and all the actresses are Palestinian

film
Arts and Entertainment
Madame Vastra and Jenny Flint kiss in Doctor Who episode 'Deep Breath'

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Steve Carell in the poster for new film 'Foxcatcher'
filmExclusive: First look at comic actor in first major serious role
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Kingston Road in Stockton is being filmed for the second series of Benefits Street
arts + entsFilming for Channel 4 has begun despite local complaints
Arts and Entertainment
Led Zeppelin

music
Arts and Entertainment
Radio presenter Scott Mills will be hitting the Strictly Come Dancing ballroom
TV
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 other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

    The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

    Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
    The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

    The model for a gadget launch

    Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
    Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

    She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

    Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
    Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

    Get well soon, Joan Rivers

    She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
    Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

    A fresh take on an old foe

    Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
    Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

    Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

    As the collections start, fashion editor Alexander Fury finds video and the internet are proving more attractive
    Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy

    Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall...

    ... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy
    Weekend at the Asylum: Europe's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln

    Europe's biggest steampunk convention

    Jake Wallis Simons discovers how Victorian ray guns and the martial art of biscuit dunking are precisely what the 21st century needs
    Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

    Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

    Lying is dangerous and unnecessary. A new book explains the strategies needed to avoid it. John Rentoul on the art of 'uncommunication'
    Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough? Was the beloved thespian the last of the cross-generation stars?

    Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough?

    The atomisation of culture means that few of those we regard as stars are universally loved any more, says DJ Taylor
    She's dark, sarcastic, and bashes life in Nowheresville ... so how did Kacey Musgraves become country music's hottest new star?

    Kacey Musgraves: Nashville's hottest new star

    The singer has two Grammys for her first album under her belt and her celebrity fans include Willie Nelson, Ryan Adams and Katy Perry
    American soldier-poet Brian Turner reveals the enduring turmoil that inspired his memoir

    Soldier-poet Brian Turner on his new memoir

    James Kidd meets the prize-winning writer, whose new memoir takes him back to the bloody battles he fought in Iraq
    Aston Villa vs Hull match preview: Villa were not surprised that Ron Vlaar was a World Cup star

    Villa were not surprised that Vlaar was a World Cup star

    Andi Weimann reveals just how good his Dutch teammate really is
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef ekes out his holiday in Italy with divine, simple salads

    Bill Granger's simple Italian salads

    Our chef presents his own version of Italian dishes, taking in the flavours and produce that inspired him while he was in the country
    The Last Word: Tumbleweed through deserted stands and suites at Wembley

    The Last Word: Tumbleweed through deserted stands and suites at Wembley

    If supporters begin to close bank accounts, switch broadband suppliers or shun satellite sales, their voices will be heard. It’s time for revolution