Charlotte Church interview: I'll Be There (2003)

Interview by Jamie Russell; previously published on BBC Movies.

Last updated: 28 November 2008

Welsh soprano Charlotte Church is one of the most successful singers in the UK. At just 17, she's already released several albums, opened for Shirley Bassey, and performed at the Royal Albert Hall. I'll Be There is her feature film debut.

Was working on a movie like you expected?

I thought the actors were going to be very serious about their jobs and about trying to find their characters between scenes, but they all turned out to be crazy. I had a wicked time. It was like being at school.

The film's been described as a singing version of Billy Elliot.

Kind of. It's very British and it's very Welsh. It's also humorous - there's a comedy element to everything in it.

What was it like having Joss Ackland as your granddad?

He was amazing. We had this scene where I was roasting chicken in my mother's driveway and we had to hug. So in between scenes we just kept hugging. He was lovely.

Did he give you any acting tips?

No, but I've had acting tips from Catherine Zeta-Jones and Anthony Hopkins. They told me to concentrate on my breathing. And Craig [Ferguson] told me that I hardly need any expression because I've got quite an expressive face anyway - my eyebrows dance up and down and my mouth goes all funny, so he said I don't need to overdo it.

Were you inspired by Britney Spears' acting career?

Since I sing in this film I know people are going to think, "Oh here we go, Charlotte Church is playing a singer from Wales, what a surprise!" But it's nowhere near that stereotypical. I'm singing music that's quite different from what people usually hear me sing. It's not like a Britney or Mariah Carey kind of thing.

Crossroads was a massive budget American film and I've always said I wanted to do something small and classy and credible and British. And I hope this film turns out to be those four things. It's certainly British!

Did you have much input on the soundtrack?

I did four songs on the soundtrack. It's quite different from the classical Charlotte Church, but that's the way I want to go musically.

Did you help the other cast members with their singing?

No, Craig was very professional. We recorded together in the studio and he was mucking about, singing like David Bowie. His impersonation of Bowie is spot-on. He sounds so good I didn't have to give him any tips.

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