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28 October 2014
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"It's always nice when the eccentrics show up..."
Christopher Eccleston and Eddie Izzard

Christopher Eccleston plays the revenge-seeking hero Vindici against Eddie Izzard as Lussurioso

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As 'Revengers Tragedy' opens in London, director Alex Cox talks about collaboration, revolution...and pink cowboy hats

 

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From "Repo Man" to "Sid & Nancy" and "Straight to Hell", Alex Cox has made some of the most original movies of recent years.

His latest, "Revengers Tragedy", is an updated version of Thomas Middleton's 17th century revenge drama that's set in post-apocalypse Liverpool and stars Christopher Eccleston, Derek Jacobi, Diana Quick, Sophie Dahl and Eddie Izzard.

You've described Middleton's play as a black comedy...
It is darkly funny. The characters have ironic, Latin-sounding names like 'Spurio' and 'Sordido' but the story is clearly set in, and is about, that English class of titled gangsters, the 'Aristocracy': with its intrigues, indiscretions, betrayals, lost fortunes... and sudden deaths.

AUDIO audioHear Christopher Eccleston in an extract from 'Revengers Tragedy': click here (620 Kb/ 0'47") Real Player required

Do you think it might be subversive?
I definitely hope so. Everybody gets a little dose of Shakespeare. He's the greatest playwright in the English language, but his politics are fairly square. The greatest crime in a Shakespeare play is to murder the king. For Middleton it's like, "Kill the king? Why not?" It's inspirational - nobody is above being brought down. It's a revolutionary message.

Is it effective?
You can't change the system through violence. There's a very moral aspect to these plays, unlike films such as "Collateral Damage" or "Death Wish" where we go "Here's Bruce Willis, he's justified in killing everyone because they murdered his grandmother".

But as a film it must have posed certain problems....
The main one was the hero's ability to disguise himself so that no one, not even his mother or sister can recognise him. Then there's the mother's blindness, the fact that the sister was so young...I'd met Chris (Eccleston) in 1989 and I've been watching him over ten years as his face changed...and all the while filing other things away for 'Revengers': locations, actors, a great production by the RSC in Stratford...

Alex Cox
Alex Cox on set

Was it a fun shoot?
It really was fun. Basically I think it all came from the brothers - Ambitioso (Justin Salinger), Lussurisoso (Eddie Izzard), and Supervacuo (Marc Warren). You know, it's saying something when Eddie Izzard is the normal one! They really tried to outdo each other. Justin Salinger showed up one day with a pink cowboy hat on and everyone else got really annoyed because somehow he'd managed to get the pink cowboy hat. So that was very amusing. It's always nice when the eccentrics show up!

(Interview by Jamie Russell & Will Cantopher)
Useful links:
Revengers Tragedy: the film
Alex Cox
(The BBC is not responsible for the content of external websites)

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