So it’s time to take another gander at progress on the much heralded biopic of the great British band The Kinks.
I’m happy to report that, after wondering in my last blog on the Sunny Afternoon musical if the project had temporarily stalled, things seem to be moving in the right direction again. It hadn’t derailed but just diverted into a siding for a spell. Let’s face it, it was never going to rocket along at express train pace.
The fascinating story of the duelling brothers whose musical collaboration resulted in such classic hits as You Really Got Me, Waterloo Sunset, Lola, Sunny Afternoon and Dead End Street is brimming over with about as much conflict as any screenwriter could wish for.
It’s ideal source material for a drama, replete with bad romances, band brawls, breakdowns, break-ups, comebacks, familial tragedies, feuds, groupies, paternity suits, schoolgirl pregnancies, sibling rivalry, royalty disputes, suicide attempts, transsexuals, US bans.
It would have to be the ‘long-term passion project’ that it has been dubbed, requiring as it does the cooperation of both Ray and Dave Davies in order to succeed. I can only imagine the patience and perseverance this entails, balancing competing demands from all sides.
With Ray based in Highgate, close to where the brothers grew up in Muswell Hill and Dave now domiciled in New York, physical distance is catapulted into the mix, just to complicate matters further. Though perhaps that’s sometimes a good thing – easier to put any problems down to transatlantic miscommunication rather than inbuilt aversion and ingrained enmity. After all, Ray says the story is ‘about two lads who didn’t really fit together’, observing that ‘I never really had a relationship with my brother in a normal way.’
You Really Got Me is in the catch-all early phase of pre-production, according to IMDb. Major casting decisions have been made, for better or worse.
The leads are already on board – Johnny Flynn as Ray and George MacKay as Dave. Both British, Johnny has about nine years on George but both look young enough to play the Davies when success first struck.
Johnny (given name Joe) Flynn boasts an interesting musical pedigree. He fronts a folk group called Johnny Flynn and the Sussex Wit.
Their songs carry titles like Barnacled Warship and Churlish May, very drama school, but also the more down to earth Wayne Rooney.
I think Flynn has something indefinable of Ray about him that means I can see him in the role; and his talking voice sounds a bit like Ray when he was pretending to be posher, like in this interview on an Australian tour.
His grandfather Eric Flynn went to RADA, where he met first wife Fern, and took the lead in many West End musicals. Sons Daniel and Jerome from his first marriage followed their parents’ footsteps into drama.
So Johnny is a younger half-sibling to Ripper Street and Game of Thrones star Jerome Flynn, who back in the mists of time also enjoyed chart fortune as one-half of duo Robson & Jerome, alongside small-screen stalwart Robson Green.
The pair from the TV show Soldier, Soldier scored a trio of number ones with covers of ‘Unchained Melody’ (top selling single of 1995, in the days when you had to physically purchase something for it to count), ‘I Believe’ and ‘What Becomes of the Brokenhearted’ after being persuaded to sign a recording contract by then little-known Simon Cowell (before he evolved into the savvy music mogul inextricably linked with The X Factor and Britain’s Got Talent). The duo also scored two number one albums with their covers of classic hits.
Johnny is currently starring in Hangmen, a play that recently transferred from the Royal Court to Wyndham’s Theatre.
MacKay was born into a bit of a theatrical family too, his mother a costume designer and father a stage/lighting designer. When only ten, young George landed the part of Curly, one of the Lost Boys, in Peter Pan.
The actor most recently featured on the small screen in an adaptation of The Outsider. Personally, I found him distinctly underwhelming in the role of Lewis Aldridge, one that I’d had natural sympathy for in the novel. He seemed to be sleepwalking through the part as if lobotomised, and his failure to change his frankly rather moronic expression irritated me so much that I couldn’t face the second part.
His face reminds me a little of a Wallace and Gromit clay animation figure and I submit that he is not nearly attractive enough to play Dave, whose features were all clearly defined. Fans from the 60s all confirm that Dave was the heartthrob of the group.
However, the director of Sunshine Dexter Fletcher seems almost to be describing the youthful Dave Davies when he talks about MacKay, insisting:
He does have that ‘men want to be him, girls want to be with him’ potential. He’s cool, he’s funny, he’s sexy, he’s sensitive, he’s intelligent and he’s good-looking.
I can’t see it myself though I’m quite impressed that MacKay is dating Saoirse Ronan.
George Maguire from the musical bears more superficial resemblance to the youngest Kink and is certainly sexier. Remember, both Maguire and John Dagleish, who played Ray in Sunny Afternoon, deservedly picked up Olivier Awards for their roles.
The only other casting news is that director Julien Temple’s daughter (with producer Amanda Temple) Juno is to play Ray’s ex-wife Rasa. This is a little perturbing to me, not the choice per se, as I’m sure she’ll be fine (and if anything she’s more attractive than Rasa), but because I would have thought that casting the rest of the band would take priority. Juno has enjoyed parts in major features such as Notes on a Scandal and Atonement.
Rasa seemed to have been assigned quite a pivotal role in the musical so this may go for the film too. Ray’s stance on the marriage has mellowed since the publication of his biography X-Ray (reviewed here), in which his alter ego seems to view his younger incarnation as a gullible sap possibly hoodwinked into the whole thing by people on the make. He calls it ‘only part of a series of events happening to me that were completely out of my control’.
Daughter of Lithuanian refugees, Rasa Dicpetri met Ray as a fan of the band and still a pupil at a Roman Catholic girls’ school in Bradford. The two became romantically entangled although Ray was enjoying a smorgasbord of, well, let’s just call it ‘other sex stuff’ with groupies and other girlfriends, according to the aforesaid bio. And he may even have ‘played away’ (I’m veering into tabloid territory) with Marianne Faithfull but it’s all artfully smudged by our unreliable narrator(s) so that the full picture is obscured. When Rasa fell pregnant (neither brother seems to have been that au fait with contraception), the pair got hitched fairly swiftly. I get the feeling that Rasa’s parents pretty much insisted on it. And that Ray didn’t really have time to object. Or a leg to stand on.
Dave had got his first love Sue Sheehan pregnant while both were still at school and the couple were separated by parental intervention, although Dave came to know his daughter Tracey years later.
I still favour Tom Hughes (currently starring in Ticking at Trafalgar Studios) for Mick Avory and Matthew Goode (most recently in The Good Wife stateside and Downton Abbey over here) for Pete Quaife (see previous blog on subject) and pray their roles get beefed up a bit from the minor back-up ones they were parcelled out in the musical.
Hats off to producer Jeremy Thomas and director Julien Temple for keeping the project on track. And here are details of all my blogs on The Kinks so far.
I had to publish this on blogger instead of wordpress because the latter’s always being updated beyond the capacity of my antique PC. The blogger version is here.