This week I went to see Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll, the biopic about the rocker, Ian Dury. It's not a movie I would have chosen to see but, because of the snow, I couldn't be bothered to travel into town in the ice and cold for Jane Campion's Bright Dreams or Yasujiro Ozu's Tokyo Story. I was pleasantly surprised.
Dury is brilliantly played by Andy Serkis who spent three years getting into character. Ian Dury suffered from polio which caused his lameness. To capture his ungainly walk, Serkis injured himself while wearing a leg brace to prepare himself physically, and psychologically, for the part. Directed by Mat Whitecross, the film is a fantastical take on standard biopic film-making. In an act of alchemy, Serkis literally becomes Dury. Today, the actor now sings with Ian’s band, The Blockheads, the result of his commitment to the part.
Those three years of Stanislavskian preparation is the filmic equivalent of a writer truly getting under the skin of a character. Annie Proulx spends years researching her next project, even going so far as to draw most of the plants in the landscape where her books are set.
This kind of thoroughness has lessons for us all, whether we’re actors or writers. Go see this movie and check out Dury's songs for yourself.
Stay tuned . . .