Entertainment & Arts

Rufus Norris: National Theatre 'won't open film division'

Rufus Norris Image copyright PA
Image caption Rufus Norris says the NT's first priority remains on the stage

The National Theatre may have produced its first film but it has no ambitions to become a fully-fledged film company, says artistic director Rufus Norris.

"We're not opening up a film slate because that's not what we're given public money to do," he told the BBC.

"We are a theatre," he said, "but occasionally things come up where you think, 'Why not? Let's give it a go.'"

The NT acquired the film rights to the musical London Road last year, marking its first foray into production.

There have previously been successful adaptations of NT plays - including Amadeus, The Madness of King George, The History Boys and War Horse - but the theatre had no financial or creative stake in those films.

The theatre has also staged live cinema broadcasts of shows including Macbeth, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, Frankenstein and The Audience.

Norris admitted making a stand-alone film was "not something that we set out to do" but he was keen to "see how it goes in the next few weeks and months".

Although the theatre won't open a full-time film division, "I wouldn't be surprised if another little idea popped up sooner or later," he added.

"I would never say we'd never do it again."

Image copyright Film Company
Image caption London Road is due in cinemas this week
Image copyright NAtional Theatre
Image caption Tom Hardy makes his singing debut in the film

Norris directed both the stage and screen versions of London Road, which documents the arrest of Steve Wright, an Ipswich man who was convicted of murdering five sex workers in 2008.

It uses real dialogue from the rural townsfolk whose lives were turned upside down when it was discovered a serial killer had been living in their community.

The cast includes Olivia Colman, Anita Dobson and Tom Hardy - who had a "get-out clause" written into his contract, over fears about his singing ability.

"He said from the beginning, 'I'm going to keep the back door open until the last minute, so you've got to have a Plan B,'" Norris told the BBC.

"But there was no Plan B. I knew that Tom wouldn't give up."

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