Is that me? Portraying the famous on screen

As a film about football manager Brian Clough hits the big screen, Victoria Richards asks other figures in the public eye how they view their alter egos

When The Damned United opens this week, Michael Sheen will again showcase his ability to capture the essence of the person he is portraying. Already acclaimed for his takes on the former PM Tony Blair and the broadcaster David Frost, his take on Brian Clough, one of the most celebrated and controversial figures in footballing history, is considered by many to be his strongest yet.

He captures the beleaguered Leeds United manager's fall from grace as Clough, later lauded for his European Cup wins with provincial team Nottingham Forest, was ousted from his position after only 44 days.

But while the actors may win awards and critical acclaim for their performances, for the people they portray, seeing themselves captured, distilled and delivered up on the film screen or theatre stage is often an uncomfortable or disturbing experience.

For some, like Peter Hook, the New Order bassist, seeing himself on screen captures a time he will always remember. For the parents of some of those who died in mysterious circumstances at the Deepcut barracks, it is a reminder of a time they yearn to forget.

The Independent on Sunday asked six people who have been through the experience how it feels to see someone else deliver their hopes and fears for public consumption.

Des and Doreen James

Played by Ciaran McIntyre and Rhian Morgan in Deep Cut.

Parents of Private Cheryl James, 18, who died of a gunshot wound to the head at Deepcut barracks in Surrey in November 1995.

"The first time we saw it we were going to walk out... Choosing to do this play was our last resort, a way of keeping people interested, for the sake of the families. I'm just angry that to do that, we had to sacrifice our privacy."

Robert Lawrence

Played by Colin Firth in Tumbledown.

He lost 43 per cent of his brain from a gunshot wound during the Falklands War.

"It's odd when people say, 'Colin had you down perfectly.'... I have one gripe: in all his films he never gets the girl!"

Toby Young

Played by Simon Pegg in How to Lose Friends and Alienate People – his book on his failure to make it in the US.

"I had been a fan of Simon Pegg since seeing Shaun of the Dead... They were nervous as they thought I might step in to try and make the character more 'likeable'. I didn't, as it wouldn't have worked."

Brian Haw

Played by Graham Turner in The Trial of Tony Blair.

He has lived in a protest camp in Parliament Square, London, since 2001.

"At first they asked me if I would play myself."

Peter Hook

Played by Joe Anderson in Control.

He is Joy Division's co-founder and New Order bassist.

"The life that I've led has been quite surreal, and seeing yourself on screen fits in quite well with that. I could see myself in Joe Anderson. He looked like me and acted like me."

Ivan Cooper

Played by James Nesbitt in Bloody Sunday.

SDLP MP caught up in the 1972 march that led to the shooting of 13 civil rights protesters.

"I said at first, 'Why can't I play myself?' But then he's a glamorous chap."

Arts and Entertainment
Legendary blues and rock singer Joe Cocker has died of lung cancer, his management team as confirmed. He was 70
music The singer has died aged 70
Arts and Entertainment
Maisie Williams looks concerned as Arya Stark
tv
Arts and Entertainment
photography Incredible images show London's skyline from its highest points
Arts and Entertainment
'Silent Night' last topped Classic FM's favourite Christmas carol poll in 2002
classical
Arts and Entertainment
Caroline Flack became the tenth winner of Strictly Come Dancing
tv 'Absolutely phenomenal' Xtra Factor presenter wins Strictly Come Dancing final
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Rhys says: 'I'm not playing it for laughs, but I have learnt that if you fall over on stage, people can enjoy that as much as an amazing guitar solo'
musicGruff Rhys on his rock odyssey, and the trouble with independence
Arts and Entertainment
Krysia and Daniel (Hand out press photograph provided by Sally Richardson)
How do today's composers answer the challenge of the classical giant?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
News
Shenaz Treasurywala
film
News
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Watkins as Christopher Jefferies
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Star Wars Director JJ Abrams: key character's names have been revealed
film
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell Williams won two BBC Music Awards for Best Song and International Artist
music
Arts and Entertainment
Mark, Katie and Sanjay in The Apprentice boardroom
TV
Arts and Entertainment

Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites

Arts and Entertainment
Frances O'Connor and James Nesbitt in 'The Missing'

TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations

Arts and Entertainment
Joey Essex will be hitting the slopes for series two of The Jump

TV

Who is taking the plunge?
Arts and Entertainment
Katy Perry as an Ancient Egyptian princess in her latest music video for 'Dark Horse'

music
Arts and Entertainment
Dame Judi Dench, as M in Skyfall

film
Arts and Entertainment
Morrissey, 1988

TV
Latest stories from i100
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.

    Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

    'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

    Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
    Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

    Ed Balls interview

    'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
    He's behind you, dude!

    US stars in UK panto

    From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

    What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

    Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
    Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

    Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

    Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
    Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

    Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
    Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

    Autism-friendly theatre

    Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

    Panto dames: before and after

    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

    Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
    The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

    The man who hunts giants

    A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there