Writer / director Richard Curtis talks to BBC Film Network about adopting a free-flow approach to directing and getting to grips with working on water.
When low-budget rom-com Four Weddings and a Funeral was released in 1994 it smashed box office records, becoming the highest grossing British film up to that point. Much of the credit went to writer-producer Richard Curtis who mixed salty humour with urbane sophistication, just as he did on classic BBC sitcom Blackadder (co-written with Ben Elton).
The success of Four Weddings was also a breakthrough moment for production company Working Title Films who went on to sign a $600m deal with Hollywood giant Universal. The deal is still in place, affording them a uniquely powerful position on the home playing field. Keeping their end of the bargain, Working Title continue to turn out international hits including subsequent Richard Curtis comedies Notting Hill (1999) and Love Actually (2003).
Bill Nighy and Richard Curtis on the set of the film.
The Boat That Rocked is their latest and most ambitious collaboration, telling the story of a pirate radio station in the mid-60s (loosely based on Radio Caroline). It marks Curtis's second outing as director yet, despite his relative inexperience in the megaphone department, he happily took on the challenge of shooting at sea on a real boat anchored off the English coast. He even allowed his cast - a starry line-up featuring Philip Seymour Hoffman, Bill Nighy and Emma Thompson - to stray from his lovingly crafted script and improvise dialogue.
The Boat That Rocked is released in UK cinemas on Wednesday 1st April 2009. Text and interview: Stella Papamichael, Video: Steve Bailey Published 1st April 09