Considering George O’Dowd’s less than chummy relationship with the British media, the BBC sailed into choppy waters with last night’s Boy George biopic, Worried About The Boy.
Thanks, however, to Tony Basgallop’s sensitive screenplay, an acutely catty performance from Burberry model-turned-actor Douglas Booth (as the Boy himself) and an hysterically accurate turn from Mark Gatiss as the late Malcolm McLaren, Worried About The Boy succeeded in its task: scratching the surface of O’Dowd’s outlandish persona to reveal a man controlled by the character he created.
In light of the Beeb’s commendable effort, we thought we'd throw our two cents in and compile a list of our top rock biopics. With an accepted formula consisting of a stellar rise and a protracted fall, the genre (despite its predictability) has produced a crop of world-beating offerings.
The tragic demise of Joy Division’s Ian Curtis has been well documented since his death in 1980. One of the darker of our biopic picks, Anton Corbijn’s beautifully shot Control, brought a gravity to a genre dominated by high-shine Hollywood offerings including Ray and Walk The Line. Sam Riley’s stirring portrayal of Curtis was matched only by Samantha Morton’s take on Debbie, Curtis’s wife.
2. Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll
The protean Andy Serkis delivers a stunning portrayal of Ian Dury, lead singer of the Blockheads. Working through Dury’s troubled childhood (he contracted Polio at age seven), his time in the spotlight and his subsequent battle with alcoholism — Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll stands out for Serkis’ impressive ability to make worn-out profanities sound once again profain.
3. The Doors
Val Kilmer immersed himself in the role of Jim Morrison for a year prior to filming, and gives an eerie performance in Oliver Stone’s biopic chronicling the downfall of The Doors’ iconic lead singer.
4. Nowhere Boy
Post-pubescent newcomer Aaron Johnson captures the spirit of the young John Lennon (not to mention the heart of his 42-year-old director Sam Taylor-Wood) delivering a performance endorsed by Yoko Ono herself.
5. What’s Love Got to Do With It
Detailing the life and times of Tina Turner, from her childhood through to her abusive relationship with modern monster, Ike – played with expert vitriol by Laurence Fishburne — What’s Love Got To Do With It features a powerhouse performance from Angela Bassett in the central role.
Happy (working title)
Currently in production, this documentary on The Rolling Stones’ legendary guitarist Keith Richards is scheduled for a 2011 release. Johnny Depp has been conscripted in to direct. Be excited.
Words by Max Olesker and Teo van den Broeke