Meet­ing The Who was more ex­cit­ing than be­ing in Quadrophe­nia

Bangor Mail - - The Big Interview -

To cel­e­brate the 40th an­niver­sary of the re­lease of cult Bri­tish film Quadrophe­nia, there’s a new doc­u­men­tary and the stars came to­gether for a ta­ble read of the orig­i­nal script. GE­OR­GIA HUMPHREYS talks to some of the cast about the re­union and the movie’s en­dur­ing ap­peal

FORTY years since Quadrophe­nia was re­leased in cin­e­mas, Phil Daniels still finds the film looms large in his daily life. The Lon­don­born ac­tor, 60, played the lead role – Jimmy Cooper, a Lon­don mod

– in the cult clas­sic.

Disil­lu­sioned by his par­ents and his dull job, he finds an out­let for his teenage angst by tak­ing am­phet­a­mines, par­ty­ing, riding scoot­ers and brawl­ing.

“It’s a strange thing to have a whole group of peo­ple who think I am Jimmy, which I’ve sort of come to terms with a bit,” ad­mits the star, who’s had roles in crime drama Scum and an­i­ma­tion Chicken Run, and Blur’s Park­life mu­sic video.

“There was a point in my life when I wasn’t in­ter­ested at all, but now I don’t mind. That’s life – que sera. But it is a bit of a strange thing, but a nice thing, to have such a fol­low­ing.”

The suc­cess of Quadrophe­nia – which is set in 1964 and is loosely based on The Who’s 1973 rock opera of the same name – has grown and grown.

“For many years af­ter we did the film it was quite quiet, and I think af­ter, I don’t know, 10, 15, 20 years, it started get­ting a cult fol­low­ing,” Phil con­tin­ues. “Peo­ple be­came Mods and I think DVDs helped and things like that. It’s an in­ter­est­ing phe­nom­e­non.”

To cel­e­brate the an­niver­sary of the drama’s re­lease, Sky Arts brought the orig­i­nal cast back to­gether. Hosted by Lau­ren Lav­erne, Quadrophe­nia Re­united – 40 Years On in­volved a record­ing of a live ta­ble read-through with the orig­i­nal cast, plus a new doc­u­men­tary called Quadrophe­nia – Our Gen­er­a­tion, which looks at the mav­er­ick film-mak­ing, the com­plex themes within the film and the Mod move­ment in gen­eral.

Plus, the orig­i­nal film is due for a se­lected cinema re­lease this au­tum, so once again we will be able to fol­low Jimmy and his Mod friends Dave (Mark Wingett), Chalky (Philip Davis) and Spi­der (Gary Shail), as they travel to Brighton, where they clash with the rock­ers.

It’s nice to hear the cast has re­mained close since shoot­ing to­gether in the 1970s. But re­unit­ing for this event was still emo­tional.

“I don’t think any of us have changed, we are still very much the same peo­ple,” con­fides Toyah Will­cox, 61, who plays Mon­key.

“But ob­vi­ously time has af­fected us, and to watch the doc­u­men­taries and the work we have done in the last 12 months, I find it pro­foundly mov­ing.”

Did they have a sense at the time that the re­la­tion­ships they formed on set would last four decades?

“We were all very pas­sion­ate, and pro­tec­tive,” re­calls the Birm­ing­ham-born ac­tress, who’s also a Brit Award­nom­i­nated mu­si­cian, fa­mous for songs such as I Want To Be Free.

She ex­plains her co-stars Mark and Gary were like her “body­guards” when they’d go and watch her gigs.

“I was a punk rocker. I was the sub­ject of quite a lot of phys­i­cal ag­gres­sion... Punks al­ways got beaten up by Teddy Boys or what­ever. Even as a woman on my own...

A gang tried to throw me through a chemist win­dow on the King’s Road, when I was about 20. It was quite in­ter­est­ing back then be­cause fights did break out, but no one pulled a knife on you, no one pulled a gun on you.

“Punk threat­ened every­one. But what’s re­ally in­ter­est­ing look­ing back at the film – you’ve got these riot se­quences where the mods and rock­ers are fight­ing as part of their Bank Hol­i­day en­joy­ment – I think that el­e­ment has al­ways been there.

“I think there was a pride back then in us­ing your phys­i­cal strength, us­ing your fists, or be­ing able to run quick enough to get away.”

Steph – Jimmy’s love in­ter­est in the film, who he meets in Brighton – is played by Les­lie Ash.

It was the first ma­jor role for the 59-year-old, who went on to star in hit TV shows such as Men Be­hav­ing Badly and Where The Heart Is.

“I just look and think, ‘Oh my god I wish I looked like that now!”’ quips the star, who was born in Hen­leyon-Thames, when asked how she’s found watch­ing the film back.

“But ob­vi­ously 40 years later it’s a full-time job try­ing to live up to that sort of char­ac­ter, that look, be­cause peo­ple love that film so much, and they come and tell me how much they loved it.

“It’s just a lovely thing, to be able to say, ‘Yeah I was in that film, and I look great’. Every­one looks fan­tas­tic.”

Les­lie agrees that Steph was a ground­break­ing char­ac­ter in terms of the way women are por­trayed on screen.

“It’s funny, I was just say­ing to Phil, at the time it was a fan­tas­tic job to get – I was mod­el­ling so all I was fo­cused on was I wanted to look good. And I loved the whole fact that it was im­pro­vi­sa­tion, work­ing with Franc (Rod­dam, di­rec­tor) and it didn’t seem like work. Ev­ery day you looked so for­ward to get­ting into work and work­ing with these guys.

“But I’m find­ing that out af­ter­wards, that it was ac­tu­ally so ground­break­ing... Women were be­ing stronger and out there and they could go out, they weren’t tied to the kitchen. The whole world was open­ing up for women.”

As Quadrophe­nia’s plot develops, we see what are per­haps per­ceived as tra­di­tional roles in a re­la­tion­ship re­versed; Steph is the more sex­ual of the two, while Jimmy is more emo­tional.

Says Les­lie: “I sup­pose it al­ways went on but it wasn’t seen, and I think the whole thing in the 60s was that it just came out – women could be pro­mis­cu­ous just like a man. Al­though they prob­a­bly got called names for it.”

It’s im­pos­si­ble to talk about Quadrophe­nia, which also stars Sting as a mod leader, and not men­tion the sound­track.

When Phil is asked about how he re­lated to the themes in the film, it’s clear that the mu­sic was a huge part of his ex­pe­ri­ence on set.

“We just sort of put the parkas on and the gear and got on our scoot­ers and did the scenes that were in front of us,” he says. “And be­cause it was The Who’s mu­sic, it was re­ally quite ex­cit­ing. I think we were all at that age that meet­ing The Who was more ex­cit­ing than be­ing in the film!”

Quadrophe­nia cast mem­bers (L-R) Trevor Laird, Toyah Will­cox, Phil Davis, Les­lie Ash, Phil Daniels, Gary Shail, Garry Cooper and Mark Wingett who have been re­united 40 years on from the film’s re­lease

Phil Daniels in the new doc

Phil Daniels in new doc­u­men­tary Quadrophe­nia – Our Gen­er­a­tion, left, and above with Pete Town­shend of The Who dur­ing the record­ing of the film in 1978 Scoot­ers in Brighton dur­ing film­ing of Quadrophe­nia The Who lead singer Roger Dal­trey dur­ing film­ing of Quadrophe­nia in Brighton in Oc­to­ber 1978 ■ Quadrophe­nia’s 40th an­niver­sary cel­e­bra­tion is avail­able on Sky Arts catch-up. The orig­i­nal film will also be screened in se­lect cin­e­mas this au­tumn.

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