clockwise from top: Peter Sellers, Harry and Splke"”"
page: Georflriey Bush as Sellers and bottom, with Charleze Theron as Britt Eklend.
14 THE LIST .‘ ~ 8':
But ax ix the caxe with many great entertainment iconx. tracking Sellerx' perxonal deyelopment ix more problematic. due in part to the large number of liex and hoodwinkx he threw out to the hungry public iii hix xliort life. The common conception that moxt people hay e of him wax cemented o\ er ten yearx ago by Roger l.ewix in hix gargantuan. inexxy and occaxionally hateful biography The [in tHlt/ l)(’tll/l (if l’t‘lr’l' .S'r'lli'rx. like many before him. Sellerx had xpawned a mini biography induxtry xince hix death on 24 July l‘lh’ll. yet nothing not .-\le\andei' \Valkehx inyaluable l’r'n'r Sit/try or Michael Sellerx' I’S / /.iii't' liiir or (ii'aham Stai'k‘x Rt‘lllt'Hl/H'l‘lllg' I’t'tt'i' Sel/t'rx or e\ en l’eter li\anx‘ engroxxing 'l'lir' .lliixA li’t'lii‘iit/ l/lt' .Urlxk.‘ .'i /.l/(' Hf I’t'lt'l' Nil/(H litttl prepared the wide-ey ed fan for the dripping \ill‘ltil that wax couched in the form of a particularly unruly dixxertation that wax l.ew ix‘ hook.
.-\ kind of L‘l'tlxx between .-\lbet't (ioldinan and Peter .~\cl\t'o_\ d. l.e\\ix loolx Itiiti pagex to xay a few ximple tliiiigx about the man who wax (‘louxeau: exxentially that 'Sellerx wax a mother—on ing moiixter who wax dreadful to hix family and anyone he worked with‘. .-\ decade after l.ew ix dropped hix barrel of crap onto the legacy til. the linext Bl'ilixlt character comedy actor there probably will eyer be. the director of Predator 3 and /.().\l in Space decided to make the film of the book ~ well. about half of it anyway.
‘IT SEEMS SLIGHTLY UNFAIR THAT A MAN WHO WAS SO CLEARLY MENTALLY ILL SHOULD HAVE BEEN SO BRUTALLY PILLORIED'
:\.x thoroughly enjoyable and detail rich ax Stephen llopkinx‘ liltii yei‘xion of The life (rm/ Ur'rtl/t Ufl’vlt‘l' Sr’l/(‘I‘x i.x (it also l‘calltt'cx .xotttc killer perl'oi'mancex by (ieot'l'rey Ruxh. liniin \Vatxon and (‘harli/e Theron ax Peter and .-\nne Sellerx and Britt likland rexpectiyely ). it ix fairly difficult to xee the point of the whole enterprixe. Like nioxt men of hix era who xuddenly found themxelyex caught between the frugality of a wartime liaxt lind upbringing and the \tilgai'ity of excexx exacerbated by a rixe of yotith nioyementx ol' the l‘)(i().x. Sellerx could be mixogyiiixtic. irrational. \‘iolenl. hedonixtic. paranoid. .xtipei‘xtitiotix and Very .xellixh.
But go to any nurxing home within the .xtitllttl of' the Bow bells and try liiidiiig a man born in the early l‘)2(l.x who w axn‘t one of thoxe thingx. They were changing timex. lt xeemx xlightly unfair that a man who wax xo clearly mentally ill (if any one man xhould neyer haye been allowed to haye kidx it wax Sellerx: a mixture of' matriarchal brainwaxhing and an inherited madnexx had left him with what would now be labelled a .xerioux bipolar di.xorderi xhould haye been xo brutally pilloried. He lived in different timex: let him .xtay there. L'ltimately. Hopkinx‘ film ix only another reading of a troubled life: in (‘louxeau‘x own wordx: ‘.»\ beum'.’ \Vear yeu expecting weune'.’ A beuml'
The Life and Death of Peter Sellers is on general release from Fri 1 Oct.
James Mottram chats to non- brattish ex-Hollywood hack STEPHEN HOPKINS about The Life and Death of Peter Sellers.
For years, expat ffnglist‘otirt Stephen t-iopkins '.‘-.’.’i:% lllllt? more fixii‘ a Hollywood hack A T(,‘f"lt3l com; ‘ book artist and r‘iroductzcn .iesignm Oil lliUSKI Vl(l€'0§$. 'lIS t?;ill‘y <itt't-?(%l WélS spent directing films “.‘Jilli nii'iibers in the title'. as he \‘Jl‘yl‘y' putt; :t‘ bargain basement seguels like A i‘=.ii:;.ri:iixiie on Elm Street and i'Jredator 'I was such a brat.‘ he laughs 'l'". iii now. I'm no longer 1&0. running around Hollywood with millions of dollars blowmg things up, I don". understand those films any mere ' He rebuilt his credibility working wrth Gene Hackman and Morgan Freeman in the thriller Under Suspicion. as well as directing the pilot episode — and more besides — of 24. But nothing prepared us for Who Life and Death of Peter Sellers. one of the most inventive biopics ever committed to celltiIOid.
With Geoffrey Rush delivering a tour de force as Sellers, it takes us from the comics early days on The Goons radio show. via his work Will) Stanley Kubrick and his international success wrth the Pink Panther films. to his triumphant swansong in Being There. ‘I think i was trying to make a film which seemed like a Peter Sellers film,‘ says Hopkins. “The film feels like it has a sense of what Sellers was about as a whole. He was unable to be one single thing.‘ With Rush taking on 28 characters — from his best loved filrn characters to actual people from Sellers' life —~ it undoubtedly embodies the spirit of the tragi-comic Sellers, a man by all accounts With no discernible personality of his own.
Contrary to popular belief. the HBO-produced film only takes its title from the controversial Roger Lewis book of the same name. which Sellers' son Michael 'despised'. according to Hopkins. 'The only stuff that's in the film is also in other books.‘ he says. although it has still come in for critiCism for failing to mention Sellers' last two marriages — particularly to fourth wife Lynne Frederick. 'l felt with the last third of his life. it was more impertant to spend time with him by himself. They had a long. bitter marriage. but it wasn't new information about Sellers. And I wanted to do a compassionate version of the script. not some stupid tabloid take.’