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
Sunday 22 March 2009
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."
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!"
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."
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."
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."
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."
After giving gay film R-rating despite no sex or violencefilm
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome: 'Abort it and try again – it would be immoral to bring it into the world'
- 2 ALS ice bucket challenge co-founder Corey Griffin drowns, aged 27
- 3 A third of employers never check job applicants' qualifications, survey finds
- 4 James Foley beheading: Fox news presenter Megyn Kelly annoyed by Ferguson update during broadcast about murdered journalist
- 5 Paul Scholes: Manchester United need five experienced players who can turn round a desperate situation
Jeremy Clarkson 'does not see a problem' with his racist language on Top Gear, says BBC
The Top Ten: Horrible buildings
JK Rowling writes new Harry Potter story on Pottermore: Introducing 'Singing Sorceress' Celestina Warbuck
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?
American film board gives gay film Love Is Strange R-rating despite no sex or violence
Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome: 'Abort it and try again – it would be immoral to bring it into the world'
Scottish independence: English people overwhelmingly want Scotland to stay in the UK
Isis threat: Cameron wants an alliance with Iran
Crisis? What crisis? A visiting US doctor gives the NHS a rave review
Michael Brown shooting: Chaos erupts on the streets of Ferguson after autopsy shows teenager was shot six times – twice in the head
Scottish Independence Referendum: Salmond described as 'arrogant, ambitious and dishonest' by Scottish women