A new se­ries of Ur­ban Myths, The Good Wife’s Matt Czuchry stars in new hos­pi­tal drama The Res­i­dent and the re­turn of An­cient Rome-set com­edy Plebs

JAMES PURE­FOY and Gemma arter­ton add com­edy to the mak­ing of an iconic film

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Ur­ban Myths

Thurs­day, Sky Arts HD, 9pm

SOME LIKE IT HOT is one of the best-loved com­edy movies of all time with its story of two 1920s mu­si­cians, played by Jack Lem­mon and Tony Cur­tis, evad­ing gang­sters by dress­ing as women and join­ing an all-fe­male jazz band.

But the shoot­ing of the 1959 film was plagued by dif­fi­culty, due to the fact that Mar­i­lyn Mon­roe, who played glam­orous singer and ukulele player Sugar Kane, strug­gled to get her lines right.

The chal­lenges faced by the film’s di­rec­tor and writer Billy Wilder are brought to life in the open­ing episode of Sky Arts’ Ur­ban Myths com­edy strand, which re­turns this week to give a ‘true-ish’ take on leg­endary mo­ments from the worlds of film, mu­sic, art and lit­er­a­ture.


The episode stars James Pure­foy as Wilder, who looks on in hor­ror as Mon­roe, played by Gemma Arter­ton, needs 47 takes be­fore she per­fects a sin­gle line, ‘It’s me, Sugar.’ ‘It’s a sim­ple scene where Mar­i­lyn knocks on a door and says the line, but she just couldn’t get it right,’ says Pure­foy, 53. ‘She was a fine comedic ac­tress but she was hav­ing a bad day be­cause at the time, she was drink­ing and tak­ing pre­scrip­tion medicines.’

Wilder’s dif­fi­cul­ties in get­ting his star to re­mem­ber the line are ex­ac­er­bated as her act­ing coach Paula Stras­berg (Fe­lic­ity Mon­tagu) and her hus­band, play­wright Arthur Miller (Dougray Scott), are both on set, while her co-stars Jack Lem­mon (Adam Brody) and Tony Cur­tis (Alex Pet­tyfer) are tak­ing bets on how many takes Mon­roe will need.

‘They all keep stick­ing their oar in as Wilder tries every way he can to get her to say the line right,’ says Pure­foy, best known for his roles in Rome, The Fol­low­ing and Al­tered Car­bon. ‘Lem­mon and Cur­tis are try­ing their hard­est to help her, but it’s Wilder him­self who even­tu­ally gets through to her and makes her feel con­fi­dent. They’d had a suc­cess­ful work­ing re­la­tion­ship on The Seven Year Itch and he cast her again to recre­ate that magic. Even­tu­ally he got it but there was a great cost.’

To pre­pare for the role as

Wilder, Pure­foy watched Youtube clips of the di­rec­tor as well as doc­u­men­taries about the mak­ing of the movie and he also en­joyed re-watch­ing the film it­self.

‘It just has a won­der­ful naivety to it that end­lessly de­lights us as an au­di­ence,’ he says. ‘I watched it years ago but watch­ing it again re­minded me how breath­tak­ingly bril­liant and hi­lar­i­ously funny it is. The char­ac­ters are rich and com­plex, and the ac­tors worked to­gether re­ally well be­cause Billy let them go ahead and do their thing. He was fa­mous for his lack of trick­ery; he re­ally loved just putting a cam­era on some­one and let­ting it roll.’

Pure­foy was at­tracted to the unique for­mat of Ur­ban Myths, and says he’s look­ing for­ward to see­ing the other episodes (see panel).


‘Part of the rea­son I did this was that a friend of mine, Ben Chap­lin, did an episode with Ai­dan Gillen in the first se­ries about Cary Grant and psy­chol­o­gist Ti­mothy Leary tak­ing acid to­gether. It was hi­lar­i­ous and beau­ti­fully done,’ he says.

‘They are all based on a ker­nel of fact, which is de­vel­oped into a nice lit­tle imag­i­na­tive story. It’s a clever for­mat and sat­is­fy­ing for an au­di­ence be­cause they are bite-sized.

‘I’d love to di­rect one my­self and I’ve got a few ideas up my sleeve. There are so many sto­ries like this that you can re­ally fan­ta­sise about what hap­pened.’

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