'Life on Mars' Beefs Up Force Colm Meaney, Lenny Clarke join ABC pilot August 16, 2007
ABC's adaptation of the British series "Life on Mars" will be importing more than its premise from across the pond.
Irish actor Colm Meaney is set to take one of the lead roles in the pilot from "Boston Legal" creator David E. Kelley. He would star opposite his countryman Jason O'Mara in the time-jumping police drama.
Lenny Clarke ("Rescue Me") has also joined the pilot, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The show is up for midseason consideration at ABC.
"Life on Mars" centers on a present-day detective (O'Mara) who, following a car accident, finds himself transported to the early 1970s. Meaney will play the decidedly old-school head of the homicide unit, a role filled by Philip Glenister in the BBC's version of the show.
Clarke will play another cop in the 1970s department. Rachelle Lefevre ("What About Brian") is also on board as the only female detective in the squad.
Meaney has worked with Kelley once before, on the 1999 feature film "Mystery, Alaska." He was a regular on two "Star Trek" series, "The Next Generation" and "Deep Space Nine," and has also made guest appearances on "Moonlighting," "Men in Trees" and "Law & Order: Criminal Intent."
His movie credits include "The Commitments," "Layer Cake," "Con Air" and "This Is My Father."
Patrick Roy, 2006 inductee into the Hockey Hall of Fame
Sounds like a very interesting storyline. Especially how the transplanted detective will have to deal with 1970's crime & the old fashioned notions of the era. Particularly sexism on the force & probably some racism as well.
Of course, if the show is set in NYC, they will have him back in time working on the infamous "Son Of Sam" Case from 1977
Yeah. Its an amazing series. The premise works, and the show was amazing... What I never do understand is why they need to be remade to be shown over in the US? I think the premise works just fine in either setting... I'll probably still end up watching the US version, it won't be the first time I have ever done so. LOL.
Interesting cast choices.
"You know, I used to think it was awful that life was so unfair. Then I thought, wouldn't it be much worse if life were fair, and the terrible things that happen to us come because we actually deserve them? So, now I take great comfort in the general hostility and unfairness of the universe." Marcus, Babylon 5
I live near to Elland Road which is one of the locations for this flick, I've walk past when they were filming and it's been funny watching them transform it back to the 70's. As a big Leeds fan I'm looking forward to seeing this film, the cast is stellar and anyone who knows anything about Leeds and English football will agree Colm Meaney as Don Revie is perfect casting.
'The Damned United' kicks off location shooting
Set in 1960’s and 1970’s England, 'The Damned United' tells the confrontational and darkly humorous story of Brian Clough’s (played by Michael Sheen) doomed 44 day tenure as manager of the reigning champions of English football Leeds United.
Previously managed by his bitter rival Don Revie (Colm Meaney), and on the back of their most successful period ever as a football club, Leeds had an aggressive and cynical style of football - an anathema to the principled yet flamboyant Brian Clough, who had achieved astonishing success as manager of Hartlepool and Derby County building teams in his own vision with trusty lieutenant Peter Taylor.
Taking the Leeds job without Taylor by his side, with a changing room full of Don’s boys, would lead to an unheralded examination of Clough’s belligerence and brilliance over 44 days. This is that story. The story of The Damned United.
Jim Broadbent (Topsy Turvy, Iris) plays Sam Longson, Derby Chairman.
“Peter Morgan has skilfully adapted a screenplay from wonderful source material that we are delighted to have developed, and along with director Tom Hooper, we have a story that we hope will amuse and fascinate in equal measure,” commented Andy Harries, “We are thrilled that the exceptionally talented Michael Sheen is taking on the role of Brian Clough and with support from Timothy Spall, Colm Meaney and Jim Broadbent we have assembled a cast that we are extremely excited about.”
BBC Films’ Christine Langan commented “The Damned United is an urgent and compelling movie about success, hunger and love. BBC Films is thrilled to be working with some of Britain’s top talent and to be part of this passionate portrait of a footballing legend, Brian Clough, a one-off in the game of life as he was in football.”
Deborah Schindler, President of International Motion Picture Production at Sony Pictures added, "We are very excited to be involved with this talented group of filmmakers who have such a proven track record in making internationally appealing and award-winning British movies. The Damned United is a universally entertaining story focusing on one of Britain's true sporting icons and the most dramatic episode in Brian Clough's extraordinary career."
'The Damned United' will shoot on locations throughout Yorkshire, Leeds, Derbyshire and Spain. Ben Smithard (Cranford) is the director of photography, costumes are by Mike O’Neill (Elizabeth I), Jan Archibald (La Vie En Rose) is hair and make-up designer, Eve Stewart (Topsy Turvy) is production designer. The film is produced by Andy Harries, Christine Langan and Grainne Marmion.
Sony Pictures Entertainment is looking to release the film in 2009.
Dave Calhoun gets his training kit on as he visits the set of a new film about football legend Brian Clough’s torrid spell at Leeds United in the mid-1970s The glamour of British filmmaking never ceases to amaze. Today a make-up lady is brushing fake tan on Michael Sheen’s legs in a windy corner of Yorkshire. Sheen must be thinking that it doesn’t get any better than this. The celebrated 39-year-old Welsh actor is known for his acute portrayals of real people on screen and stage: he was Tony Blair in ‘The Queen’ and David Frost in ‘Frost/Nixon’. Now he’s playing Brian Clough – footballer, manager, big mouth – in a new film about his disastrous 44-day employment in 1974 as the manager of league champions Leeds United.
Sheen looks the part as he prepares for a scene in the shadow of Leeds United’s shabby Elland Road stadium. He’s wearing canary yellow shorts and football socks and a blue sweatshirt with a white collar poking out from underneath. But, looking at him, it’s hard not to think of Tony Blair. His hairstyle, with its tuft above the forehead, is adequately Clough-like but it has a touch of the Tony about it too. Add to this hair-do the antiquated footballing gear and Sheen’s whole appearance reminds you of those embarrassing footballing photo opps in which Blair specialised during his early days as PM.
Anyone familiar with David Peace’s brilliant novel ‘The Damned United’ – the source for this new film – will know the story of Clough’s brief flirtation with Leeds United. In July 1974, 39-year-old Clough took over from his arch rival, Don Revie, who left the club after 13 years to manage England. Clough failed to repeat the brilliance that he’d demonstrated over six years as the manager of Derby County, a team he dragged from the bottom of the second division to the top rungs of the first. Under Clough, Leeds won only two games out of ten. But this misadventure didn’t dampen his fame: interviewers, commentators and impressionists continued to lap up his dry wit and jokey, sometimes caustic tongue. He was a celebrity before football had heard of the word.
So why the fake tan, I ask Peter Morgan, the writer of the film? Forty-five-year-old Morgan is something of a regular presence in Sheen’s career: he wrote ‘The Deal’, a TV film about the early days of New Labour, ‘The Queen’, and the play ‘Frost/Nixon’, which has been turned into a film by Ron Howard to be released next year. Morgan puts my mind to rest: ‘Because at this point in the story, Clough has just been on holiday to Mallorca.That’s why he’s got the tan. In fact, we’re going to Mallorca to film at the end of the shoot.’
Sadly on this dark June afternoon we have to make do with a car park near the M1. Which is appropriate for a film about Britain and football before both received a makeover. The crew has laid out turf across a corner of the parking lot to make it look like a training ground. In the distance, a lone man is spraying green paint on the gravel. The crew, led by young director Tom Hooper, a veteran of recent TV successes ‘Longford’ and ‘Elizabeth I’, begins to shoot a key scene: Clough’s arrival at Elland Road to confront a team of moody Leeds players who, put simply, can’t stand the sight of him. In his position as manager of Derby County, Clough had repeatedly bad-mouthed the Leeds team – a contributing factor to his nickname: Old Big ’Ead. He was swimming upstream with his legs tied before the Leeds lads laid eyes on him.
‘When I was writing the script, I spoke to some of the players about Clough turning up in Leeds that day,’ Morgan remembers. ‘I think they were trying to put aside some reservations about him before he came, but then he arrived and it was, like: Okay, how do you expect us to co-operate after that?’
The camera rolls and it becomes clear what Morgan means. Sheen as Clough marches onto the pitch with coach Jimmy Gordon (Maurice Roeves) in tow. Immediately he lays down the law. ‘It’s going to be a little different round here without Don… As far as I’m concerned you can chuck all your medals and all your caps… in the biggest dustbin you can find because you’ve never won any of them fairly.’
The mention of Don Revie by captain Billy Bremner, as played by Stephen Graham (the racist Liverpudlian in ‘This is England’) has Clough fuming. ‘Anyone who mentions his name is going to spend a week cleaning my boots.’ Sheen has Clough’s ex-Middlesbrough accent down pat. Visually, audiences should enjoy the period detail. The Leeds players are wearing purple tracksuits with their names – Bremner, Cherry, Giles, Hunter, Lorimer, Madeley – branded in white letters across the back. In the stadium’s car park is a line-up of vintage cars, a Cortina here, an Austin Healey Sprite there.
It’s a long scene, with Clough’s players enduring a full few minutes of their new boss telling them what’s what. He lets loose on Irish international Johnny Giles (Peter McDonald): ‘You, Irishman, God gave you skill, intelligence and the best passing ability in the game. God did not give you six studs to wrap around another player’s legs.’ Clough finishes by boasting of his own scoring record (‘251 goals in 274 starts’) before kneeing a football, heading it a few times and volleying it into the net. ‘I’d like to see Don f***ing Revie do that.’
Sheen walks away looking pleased with himself. Later, in a break between scenes, he tells me how ‘all I was thinking about during that scene was whether I was going to be able to hit the ball in the net or not.’
Morgan knows how well-regarded Peace’s book was when it was published in 2006. It was Stephen Frears, who directed Morgan’s scripts for ‘The Deal’ and ‘The Queen’, who first gave him the book and was going to direct the film until another project took over. Still, one imagines that ‘The Damned United’ will follow the same realist style as ‘The Queen’, with a similar use of archive footage and a similar daring spin on public and private lives. If the director plays it straight, Clough’s wit will give it a comic edge while his downfall at Leeds will offer its own mini-tragedy.
Like the book, Morgan’s script bounces back and forth, from the Leeds story to Clough’s earlier experiences at Derby, another job from which he was sacked after a clash with management.
Has Morgan managed to keep the dark inner voice of Peace’s novel? There’s a strong vein of paranoia, self-loathing and alcoholism that Peace attributes to Clough. ‘I think we’re a bit warmer than the book,’ Morgan suggests. ‘But I don’t think there’ll be any doubt whatsoever by the end of the film that the character you see on the screen is plagued with inner demons.’
‘The Damned United’ will be in cinemas in autumn 2009.