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The message is loud and clear - JANE

HORROCKS was born to star in Little Voice. Anyone who says otherwise can expect a good talking to. Words: Jason Best

When people say that only this actor could possibly play that part. the statement is often empty hype. In the case of .lane llorrocks and the character of ‘Little Voice‘. it happens to be true.

.lim (‘artwright wrote The Rise Am/ I’u/l ()fLitt/e l’uit‘t' especially for llorrocks. Her talent for impersonating dixas like Judy Garland. Marlene Dietrich and Billie Holiday inspired the play‘s title character >— a slt_\ \orthern girl who possesses an astonishing gift for vocal mimickry.

‘I told .lim that I could do these impersonations.’ explains llorrocks. ‘And when I did them he said he would write a play about it.‘

The play was a big London hit in 1992 - the same year that llorrocks found TV fame as Bubbles. Jennifer Saunders’ sublimer gormless assistant in Absolute/y l-‘u/mluus. That it has taken six years to bring the play to the big screen can partly be blamed on Hollywood‘s perversity in suggesting hopelessly inappropriate actresses for the lead role.

'ln America all they are interested in is getting

stars in. rather than casting actors who are right for

the part.‘ llorrocks commented disdainfully when (iwyncth l’altrow was mooted for the role.

‘IJII/t' \iu‘t‘e works because it is about a little girl in the North of lingland who is obsessed with these American icons. If you set it in America. it will

i become another cliched American story like A Star ls . Burn. I bet Little Voice would become famous at the

'You can't really believe that Meryl Streep is this slag from the OUthCk.’ Jane Horrocks

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Singin' in the plain: Jane llorrocks in Little Voice

end instead of finding her own voice. That would destroy the point.‘

Horrocks was equally disgusted by the proposal that Meryl Streep should take the part of Little Voice‘s slatternly mother.

‘You can’t really believe that Meryl Streep is this slag from the outback.‘ she spits. ‘She acts like she‘s got headlights on top of her head spelling out “I am giving a great performance". These people can't be ordinary. It doesn’t work.‘

Fortunately. Miramax. who own the film rights to the play. have come to their senses and cast Horrocks inthelead.

‘What makes Jane perfect is that she is physically very tiny. with this wonderful. childlike face and haircut.‘ says the film‘s producer. Elizabeth Karlsen. ‘Yet ottt of this fragile figure comes this unbelievably huge voice.‘

‘LiII/e Voice is lane‘s baby.‘ adds director Mark Herman. creator of that other bittersweet Northern comedy drama BlYlSSt’d ()f/I ‘She has lived with the character for so many years it is a part of her.‘

The roots of Little Voice certainly run deep within Horrocks. all the way back to a childhood spent in awe of Shirley Bassey.

‘We used to watch her every week.‘ she recalls. ‘I loved all that bravado. and it just so happened that one day I started to imitate her. I enjoyed making people laugh with my imitations and that inspired me to pursue it further.‘

llorrocks did so at RADA and from there to stage. TV and film success. but she has not lost touch with her background nor her broad Lancashire accent.

‘(ioing back home they would have just laughed at me and said “Stop talking so bloody posh".’ she laughs. ‘My accent is part of me and I would have lost my identity without it.‘

Selected release from Fri 8 Jan. See review.

Rough cuts

Close ups on the film world. DEAD BY DAWN, Scotland's horror film festival, returns to the Filmhouse in Edinburgh on 5-7 March with a deliciously nasty line- up of movies and guests. Big screen highlights include The Ting/er , (pictured below), Freaks, Stagefright, Zombie Flesh Eaters and Dario Argento's The Bird With The Crystal Plumage. Veteran director Jean Rollin and Hardware’s Richard Stanley will also be dropping in. More will be added to the programme (keep an eye here for updates) but if the above has already sent a chill down your spine, further information and tickets (£15 three-day pass/£12 two-day pass) are available from Adele on 0131 229 6690 or ,. and James on 0131 623 8020.

EDINBURGH'S PILTON VIDEO takes over the Filmhouse on Thursday 21 and Friday 22 January with two programmes featuring high quality, low budget short films and discussion on how they were made. The first event, with the Simpsons- ish title Eat My Shorts, includes three works Bloody Hell Harry, Lucky Draw and Second Thoughts - all made under the one ‘studio’ roof, which offered training and support for the filmmakers involved, thus relieving some of the organisational stress and allowing creativity to flow more freely.

The following day sees The Next Stop, which examines different approaches to the age-old problem of getting a second project off the i ground after the initial burst of activity surrounding a debut work. Featured are The First Five Credits Are Mine, Only The Good and Snakes And Ladders, writer/director Wendy Griffin’s story.of the travails of a female window cleaner. Tickets cost only £1 and are available at the Filmhouse box office (0131 228 2688).

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Ready for the chop: The Tingler features in Dead By Dawn

7—21 Jan 1999 THEUST51