Danny Boyle is prepared for the slings from Johnny Rotten. Under the Banner of Heaven director Dustin Lance Black discusses the importance of his tale, and The Old Man star Jeff Bridges talks second acts. Plus, the fallout from the Oscar night’s televised altercation continues; trailers for Evil’s third season, The Staircase, and Ozark’s final episodes debut; and more of the biggest TV and streaming news from the past week.
FX’s Pistol Director Danny Boyle Ready for Johnny Rotten’s Criticism
(Photo by Rebecca Brenneman/FX)
According to Pistol director Danny Boyle, who spoke to reporters during an FX press day on Tuesday, there was no way to make a film or show about the legendary punk band The Sex Pistols without receiving derision from its frontman, John Lydon (aka Johnny Rotten). “[He will] attack this series,” Boyle said. “And we love him for that.” He framed Lydon’s eventual objection to the series when it airs May 31 on Hulu and his previous attempt to prevent it from happening as an example of the human impulse to contradiction, something very much at the core of The Sex Pistols as a band and something he wants to celebrate in the six-episode program.
“Discord is at the heart of the genius of what they did as a group, really, and it has followed them ever since and it will take them to the grave,” Boyle continued. “I hope if [Lydon] does watch the series, that he’ll realize — particularly Anson, I think, but all of us — how much we love his work, really. And in making the series, we have become more and more aware of that, of what he contributed. You know, there really is something of the Oscar Wilde in him or the Brendan Behan, he more appropriately wants to be compared to, that’s very special in culture.”
Actor Anson Boon, who plays Lydon in the series, added: “It might not be the conventional form of talent — because they didn’t go to music school or something like that — but what they did was so unique and so impressive. I was just blown away by it.”
Based on Lonely Boy: Tales from a Sex Pistol, the memoir by Pistols lead guitarist Steve Jones, it charts their conception as, essentially, a working-class-boy band to their eventual dissipation just a few years later. Toby Wallace stars as Jones with Christian Lees as Glen Matlock, Louis Partridge as Sid Vicious, Jacob Slater as Paul Cook, Sydney Chandler as Chrissie Hynde, Talulah Riley as Vivienne Westwood, Maisie Williams as Jordan, Emma Appleton as Nancy Spungen, and Thomas Brodie-Sangster as Malcolm McLaren.
Boyle credited the band with shaking up the British establishment in a very profound way: “I wouldn’t be here without the Sex Pistols. I am absolutely aware of that. I was lucky … There’s no doubt that this revolution that was created changed many, many people’s paths. And it set people of that age free to express themselves. It gave them value. It reinforced Elvis’s teenage revolution.”
“It is a true privilege to work on this, by the way. Although,” he admitted, “I was a much bigger Clash fan than I was a Sex Pistols fan. But those are details. As Malcolm would have said, ‘Details, my boy, details.’”
Under the Banner of Heaven star Andrew Garfield, other members of the cast, director Dustin Lance Black, and executive producers Ron Howard and Brian Grazer also discussed their upcoming series, premiering April 28 on Hulu, at the FX press day. The program is a fictionalized account of the murder of Brenda Wright Lafferty (played by Daisy Edgar-Jones in the series) and her young daughter in a Utah suburb. As Black explained, the story was partly fictionalized to honor the request of the actual investigators in the 1984 case. “It was one of the dominoes that had to fall,” he explained.
Growing up in the Church of Latter Day Saints, Black felt it was important to not only depict the differences between mainstream Mormonism and the extreme splinter of the faith behind the events, but to also shine a light on what extremism can do. “It’s either a musical comedy, or it’s going to turn to terror and horror,” he said.
Garfield added that he tends to pick roles about questions of faith because “questions of spirituality, questions of faith and doubt, questions of how to live one’s life, questions of the meaning of life, and I think, maybe even more vitally, living on a knife edge between life and death, it’s only there that I think that we start to really get into what we are doing here, what we are doing here in the time between action and cut, what we are doing here in the time when we are breathing and incarnate on this Earth.
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