2016 is well and truly upon us, and it’s the perfect time to look at the exciting projects that will be coming to the big screen in the year to come. Of course we have big blockbuster titles like Captain America: Civil War to hit the movie theatres, however, one of the movies that has me most excited is an independent title.
John Cameron Mitchell, writer, director, and star of Hedwig and the Angry Inch, has adapted the Neil Gaiman short story How to Talk to Girls at Parties; and the project, which he also directed, has recently wrapped filming here in the UK. The movie stars Tony winner Alex Sharp, and Mitchell has reunited with Nicole Kidman, who received an Oscar nod for her role in Mitchell’s 2003 movie Rabbit Hole, along with Elle Fanning who is also starring in the movie.
The movie tells the story of an unusual love story between a teenage punk, Enn (played by Sharp), and an exotic exchange student, Zan (played by Fanning). Sounds relatively unremarkable you may think, however it turns out that Zan isn’t from another country, she is from another planet. The backdrop for this intergalactic Romeo and Juliet is 1970s Croydon (an unremarkable South London suburb), and when you add a punk rock Nicole Kidman into the mix, it definitely sounds like we have an interesting idea on our hands.
As a long time fan of both Gaiman and Mitchell, the fact that both of these worlds were going to collide in this new movie was enough to have me clamouring at the bit for any information regarding the project. Having read the short story a number of years ago, I knew the piece was set in Croydon (where Gaiman went to school and college), but I also realised that there was the possibility that the story could have been Americanised which would have been disappointing, but could have still had potential for a fantastic movie. Any fears I had about this were quelled when Mitchell commented during his press interviews for returning to Hedwig and the Angry Inch last year that he would be coming to the UK to work on the project during the latter part of 2015. Fast forward a number of months to the discovery that not only would the project be sticking to the Croydon roots of the original piece, but that thanks to investment from Screen Yorkshire much of the movie would be shot in my adopted home town of Sheffield.
As with so many of Mitchell’s projects, we didn’t get many on set photos during the filming in November and December, however the shots we did get were incredibly exciting. The pictures showed Kidman looking as we had never seen her before, rocking an outfit which wouldn’t have looked out of place on Suzi Quatrro or Joan Jett. It became apparent that Kidman would be playing the leader of the punk rockers who rally together to fend off the alien hoards set to descent on 70s suburbia. There is no doubt that this role is a stark departure for Kidman who has most recently been seen portraying Princess Grace of Monaco in the movie Grace of Monaco, and playing Dr Rosalind Franklin in hot recent West End production of Photograph 51. It goes to show the obvious affection Kidman and Mitchell hold for each other that Kidman would consider playing what could be a smaller role in this new project.
Kidman is not the only big name in the movie; Little Britain star Matt Lucas has taken an as yet unnamed role in the project. However, given his comedic pedigree, I can’t imagine he will be anything other than a comedic role. Although with John Cameron Mitchell, one never knows.
Filming on the project wrapped on December 18 2015, and there is no release date set for the movie, though according to many sources it will be late 2016 or early 2017. Given that Mitchell took a year to edit Rabbit Hole I would think we are definitely in for a bit of a wait. It is a wait that I am definitely willing to undertake, and I know I am not the only one because any John Cameron Mitchell project is definitely worth waiting for. This excitement was increased when one of the actors Ethan Lawrence tweeted the following shortly after filming had wrapped.
@kirstywallace There's a fair while to wait but I can guarantee a cinematic experience you will never have had before!
— Ethan Lawrence (@EthanDLawrence) December 22, 2015
As someone who has seen every movie that Mitchell has directed or starred in, this tweet made excitement levels hit the roof because it is well known that Mitchell is not a director who is willing to make safe choices for the sake of it.
So until we get our first proper look at the movie in the form of a trailer, and we finally get a release date all we can do is keep an eye out for any teasers and reread How To Talk Girls At Parties, which is available via Neil Gaiman’s website and in the anthology of short stories Fragile Things.
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