Post Magazine

September/October 2022

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 17 of 39

ver the past 25 years, Tony- winning director Michael Grandage has directed and produced dozens of hit plays and operas, both in his native Britain and here in the US. In 2016 the former artistic director of the storied Donmar Warehouse in London made his debut as a film director with Genius, a biopic about author Thomas Wolfe, starring Colin Firth, Jude Law and Nicole Kidman. Grandage has now followed that up with the new Amazon film My Policeman, which had its world premiere at Toronto and which is streaming on Prime Video. Based on Bethan Roberts' award-winning novel of the same name, and adapted for the screen by Ron Nyswaner, who was Oscar nominated for writing Philadelphia, the drama tells the story of handsome policeman Tom (Harry Styles), innocent teacher Marion (Emma Corrin) and gay museum curator Patrick (David Dawson), who become increasingly entangled in a fraught love triangle in 1950s Britain. With its flashbacks to the past and flash-forwards to 1999, when a far older Tom (Linus Roache), Marion (Gina McKee) and Patrick (Rupert Everett) are now forced to confront age, infirmity and the past, the film is a poignant examina- tion of regret, loss, forgiveness and the power of love. Here, in an exclusive interview for Post, I spoke with Grandage about the chal- lenges of making and posting the film. What sort of film did you set out to make, as adapting an acclaimed novel for the screen can be quite tricky? "You're right, but I actually never read the book before I got the screenplay, and what you read first is your way into it. I did read the book after I read the script, but it was the script that I responded to. I knew immediately that I wanted to make it cinematically, as I knew the story's landscape really well, and I thought I could do something here that'd interest me enormously in terms of creating the melancholic landscape and seascape of Peacehaven in 1999, contrasted with the more vibrant landscape of Brighton in the 1950s. "The sea is the common link between the two periods, and having grown up and lived most of my life by the sea, I was always looking for a project that I could do that would allow me to visually explore that theme, which isn't some- thing you can really do in the theater, and this was a great opportunity to do exactly that. The other more personal reason is that I was born at a time when homosexuality was still illegal in England, and I was very aware that all the advanc- es that have been made are now, at least in some countries, in jeopardy. So I was also looking for material that would help me tell that story. It was a combination of the visual and emotional that appealed to me, and that was all there in the orig- inal script. And then I worked with Ron on his script and we developed it further in pre-production." How did you prepare for this? "When I did my first film, Genius, I talked to a lot of director friends, and there's quite a few of us who come from the theater, including close colleagues like Sam Mendes and Ken Branagh, who've directed a lot of films, and I was able to pick their brains. So I pretty much got this great crash course in film directing from them — everything from prep and the shoot to dealing with post and stuff like visual effects. And that's also an ongoing process. Whenever we meet informally, there's a discussion about the whole pro- cess. So this time I knew what to expect, and since I directed Genius I've also been working on a lot of smaller projects for the screen, and translating them from the theater into film. So I felt pretty prepared and ready to take this on." You landed a pretty impressive cast, including pop icon Harry Styles, Emma Corrin, David Dawson and Rupert Everett. What did they bring to the project? "They brought all their great abilities and I went after them all specifically for their roles. I've worked a lot with David in theater, and when I met with Emma, she was a rising star but hadn't actually aired on The Crown, but I knew she was just right for the role. And Harry brought all his charisma. As for the chemistry we needed between the three leads, I felt they had the right mix, although you nev- er know for sure until you start shooting. You just have to gauge that in advance, and they all met to discuss their roles and the project before I cast them, which was great, and I cast all the younger ver- sions of the main characters first. There was never any talk about casting the same actors as both younger and older versions of themselves." Where did you shoot, and how tough was the shoot? "It was fairly tight. We shot for 45 days on location in London and around Brighton, and then we shot in Venice for MY POLICEMAN — MICHAEL GRANDAGE THIS LOVE TRIANGLE SEAMLESSLY MOVES BETWEEN TWO VERY DISTINCT TIME PERIODS O DIRECTOR'S CHAIR 16 POST SEPT/OCT 2022 BY IAIN BLAIR Dawson, Grandage, Corrin and Styles at My Policeman's world premiere.

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of Post Magazine - September/October 2022