How I Accidentally Directed a Chick Flick

Somehow Ol Parker found himself making a movie about a teenage girl with terminal cancer trying to lose her virginity. He’s not quite sure how it happened either. 

When the suggestion of making a film about the last months in the life of a 17-year-old girl dying of incurable cancer was first put to the British screenwriter and director Ol Parker, who recently wrote The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (budget: £10m, box office: £125m), he was not keen.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

“Well, would you be?” he asks. “I was like: ‘Thank you very much, but that’s not for me in any way’.”

Then he read a copy of the book on which the film would be based, Before I Die by Jenny Downham. After a particularly tear-jerky moment between Tessa and her dad, Parker himself was a goner. “That was the point, about 20 pages from the end of the book, where I thought ‘That’s it, we’re making this film’.”

Most Popular

The father-daughter relationship was Parker’s way in to writing the screenplay, he says. He even wrote in a scene where Tessa’s dad sits her suitor down for a breakfast summit: “That’s just me writing about my horror of when my daughters bring somebody home.”

Channelling the brain of a teenager was a trickier task, so he enlisted 17-year-old Scarlett Curtis, daughter of film director Richard, to alert him to any “general fogeyness”. (Though the excellent soundtrack, he’ll bashfully admit, is “basically my iPod”.)

Then, after securing a well-advised title change, he went and made Now is Good. They shot in London and Brighton, with Paddy Considine as the dad, Jeremy Irvine as the boyfriend and Hollywood starlet Dakota Fanning as Tessa — an actress Parker says is “genuinely remarkable; you keep waiting for the moment where she does something bullshitty and starry and it just doesn’t come.”

And now here it is: Now is Good is a film that’s funny and honest and — let’s face it — a major weepy. Parker says in one test screening for an audience of teenage girls, the last 15 minutes were drowned out by the sound of “keening”.

So now all he has to do is coax a few guys to go see it. “You’re well in if you do,” he says, “because your date will be sobbing on your shoulder.”

Now is Good is out on 21 September

What do you think?

Mark Walhberg
Culture
Share
Mark Wahlberg Talks Success, Fatherhood And Burgers
A quick chat with the Deepwater Horizon actor​
Apple HQ Battersea
Culture
Share
Apple Is Setting Up A HQ In One Of London's Most Iconic Buildings
Welcome to Battersea, America​
Justin Vernon
Culture
Share
Album Review: 22, A Million By Bon Iver
​Bon Iver's new album has a spring in its step​
fifa 17 gameplay
Culture
Share
This Is How Fifa Video Game Player Ratings Are Really Calculated
From the man in charge of creating them​
Jamie Vardy
Culture
Share
Jamie Vardy Slowed His Injury Recovery Because He Loved Skittle Vodka Too Much
A hero we can relate to​​​
James Corden and Usain Bolt
TV
Share
Watch James Corden Take On Usain Bolt In A 100 Metre Sprint
Also starring Owen Wilson, for some reason​​​
Tiger Woods
Culture
Share
Watch Tiger Woods Try And Gatecrash America's Ryder Cup Team Photo. Twice
​"No vice-captains allowed"
Katy Perry
Culture
Share
Watch Katy Perry Get Naked To Encourage Americans To Vote
A true patriot
John Lydon
Culture
Share
John Lydon On Trump, Punk And 'Selling Out'
The former Sex Pistol talks Trump, rising early and why modern men are all 'naggy housewives'
Amy Schumer
Culture
Share
Amy Schumer Is The First Woman To Make Forbes Highest Paid Comedian List
Well played, Amy