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On screaming fans, African dictators, and believing the quality press

Posted at 4:30 PM on October 2, 2006 by Euan Kerr (10 Comments)

Actor Julie Walters and writer/director Jeremy Brock seem to be living in several strange parallel universes. They came into the studios today to talk about their new film "Driving Lessons" which opens here in a couple of weeks.

The film is loosely based on a job Brock had as a teenager when he worked as a cleaner for Dame Peggy Ashcroft. She was a character and he says they became close friends. For the film Brock took the occasionally irascible Dame Peggy and created the hard-drinking cursing-till-the-air-turned-blue Evie. Walters seized the script and the character, and her involvement guaranteed funding for the project.

Along the way they picked up Rupert Grint, he of Ron Weasely fame from the Harry Potter films. Much to Brock and Walter's amazement they were beset at times by legions of female fans desperate for a glimpse of their flame-haired co-star. They admit it can only be good for the film.

Even as Brock is preparing for the release of "Driving Lessons" his directorial debut here in the US, another of his screenplays is about to hit the screen. He adapted the Giles Foden book on the brutal Ugandan dictator Idi Amin for the screenplay "The Last King of Scotland," which opens this weekend.

He says he was wrapping up work on the Amin script as he was in the run-up to shooting "Driving Lessons." When asked whether there was any overlap between the scripts, he says its a testament to the strange world of the screenwriter that he had no problem keeping them absolutely separate.

Speaking of writing though, Julie Walters is about to head back to Britain for a literary event of her own. Her first novel is published later in the month. It's a story of two British actresses who go to visit a friend who is working in New York. She wouldn't say much about it other than one of them has a breakdown and ends up having some unpleasant adventures. She says she doesn't know if it's being published here.

Walters has another writing project on the burner too. The London Times recently reported she got the largest advance ever paid to a showbusiness personality for her memoirs. The paper says she got close to $3 million. She didn't want to talk about it though. "Oh, you can't believe what you read in the press," she said.

"But it was in the London Times!" I said.

"Oh, ESPECIALLY them," she said with the sweetest smile.

Comments (10)

I can't wait to see the movie. I love both Rupert and Julie.

Posted by Lissy | October 2, 2006 7:31 PM

well the movie flop in UK, and I don't understand the comment about "of female fans" when there were only 100 fans at the UK premier of Driving lessons!

Posted by Thomas | October 2, 2006 10:34 PM

Oh so now you're Thomas! Funny you used only female names before, now you're using male names. You're so shameless in your hatred. Anyway, Rupert is now a critically-acclaimed young actor so there's nothing you can do about that. And in the end, its always talent, not popularity, that prevails.

Posted by conchita | October 2, 2006 11:54 PM

And..... hey, pssst Thomas, why are you talking about the UK fans, when we're talking about the US fans? And you know you have a very obvious example of their existence from Tribeca, don't you? ;) :)

Posted by Rebica | October 3, 2006 4:07 AM

Right on Rebica! The Tribeca venue where DL was screened was a 700-seater, and 3 screenings were all sold-out, and still, a lot of fans had to be turned away in all those 3 screenings because they could not be accommodated anymore. But in the end, DL is an indie film. Its not a commercial film that hinges much on big box office returns, which is why it was brought to a lot of film festivals first.

Posted by conchita | October 3, 2006 6:59 AM

I get the feeling I am coming in on a long-standing conversation. What's going on? Can someone let me in on the joke?

Posted by Euan Kerr | October 3, 2006 9:40 AM

Sorry, Euan. It's just that some people go from site to site disrespecting Rupert Grint like he's done them some personal grievance. Really you just have to shake your head at them and wonder whether they don't have anything better to do, when in all actuality, then probably haven't even met the guy. I personally can't see where all the hatred comes from. Sadly, most Rupert fans have become accustomed to having to defend him wherever he is mentioned.

I didn't know Julie was having some work published? Or that she wrote :) I'd love to read her work. She has such a wonderful sense of humour.

I'm really looking forward to Driving Lessons. Brock is a saint.

Posted by Cheeky | October 3, 2006 6:28 PM

Cheeky, don't give "them" too much credit, you're too generous LOL That's actually just 1 girl who uses multiple names LOL

Posted by jesi | October 4, 2006 7:39 AM

Thanks for the explanation. I understand now! (I think.....)

Posted by Euan Kerr | October 4, 2006 3:02 PM

Euan, I heard this piece on the air and absolutely LOVED it. Some of the most entertaining radio I've heard in quite awhile, great job!

Posted by Chuck Olsen | November 14, 2006 4:33 AM

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