The career of Robbie Williams (Stoke-on-Trent, United Kingdom, 1974) could soon take an unexpected turn in the media. The portal Deadline recently published that Australian Michael Gracey, director of The Great Showman, he was going to go to the Berlin International Film Festival at the beginning with the aim of signing various pre-agreements with various production companies and distributors that would financially support his new project: a biographical film of the British singer that will be provisionally titled Better man (‘A better man’, title of one of his most famous songs). Apparently his lightning stay in the German capital it has been most fruitful, so everything indicates that this summer will start filming this blockbuster estimated at 100 million dollars.
In the absence of knowing more data, the most obvious at the moment is that Michael Gracey has no intention of directing something similar to Bohemian Rhapsody O Rocketman, as it seems confirmed that a computer generated monkey (CGI) will be the one who embodies Williams himself. You read that right: a monkey. Could we be before the new Cats? The filmmaker, who previously worked at the Australian digital animation and visual effects studio Animal Logic, Trust your instincts. “I want to do it in a really original way. I remember going to the movies when I was a kid and there were movies that would blow my mind and, as I sat in the room, they would make me think, ‘I’ve never seen anything like this.’ I want the audience to have that same feeling. It is very important that when you see the story, you think just that. All I can say is that the approach is top secret, but the goal is to generate that feeling that I just described, “he said in the article published in Deadline.
The monkey thing could have its origin in that Williams song Me And My Monkey, which in 2002 was part of the album Escapology. In the song, the Briton used the figure of the primate to represent his notorious cocaine addiction. At that time, he considered this substance his only ally offstage. Five years later, the singer entered a detox clinic.
Another point that remains to be seen is whether the director will use a real-life actor (it doesn’t have to be Williams) to record his movements and transfer them to a computer-generated model using the mocap technique. Or, on the contrary, you will choose to create a digitally animated character. Gonzalo Carrión, CEO of El Ranchito, a Spanish company dedicated to visual effects that has eight Goya and an Emmy to its credit for their participation in Game of Thrones, He opines: “Regardless of whether the CGI model has come from a real actor or is a 100% digitally created character, you have to animate it, and that means there is an interpretation. This can be done by the actor himself through motion capture or by an animator bringing the character to life. In both cases it is an artistic interpretation ”. Carrión continues: “The advantages of the actor are immediacy, freshness and improvisation. A shoot is alive and you never know what you are going to find, that is why an actor can contribute many things. In traditional animation, it takes a long time to generate an interaction, and that makes you lose the energy of the moment and improvisation ”.
The director and screenwriter Marc Crehuet, who is currently working on the post-production of Mirror mirror and he’s used to dealing with flesh and blood performers, He thinks of the project: “It would not seem wrong to do it without actors, because it is a system that can work and be very expressive. For those of us who direct it is easier to have an actor and to be able to give him the expressiveness you want, but everything will depend on the aesthetic aspect they are looking for ”.
The conquest of America
On paper, without a doubt, the bet is risky. Unlike Freddie Mercury or Elton John, whose lives were recently brought to the big screen, Williams isn’t exactly a global figure. He is a huge star in Europe and Asia, but he never managed to land in what is still the largest and most coveted music market in the world: the United States.
The EMI label refused to publish his first solo works on American soil after leaving Take That, those Life Thru a Lens and I’ve Been Expecting You that swept the Old Continent in 1997 and 1998, respectively. On the contrary, Capitol Records, his record company on the other side of the pond, preferred to publish in 1999 a compilation called The Ego Has Landed that brought together the best pieces from those two albums. That same year he embarked on a 25-date tour that took him to cities such as Los Angeles, San Francisco or New York. The record had discreet sales and showed that, for some reason, Americans weren’t too interested in this English kid. Williams had to wait until 2019 to perform in the United States again. It was in a residency in Las Vegas of 16 concerts.
“I am very happy to say that I have a successful career in all other places. The United States is a huge country, it takes a lot of work. And it also involves licking a lot of ass and being on the road for years. I used to work a lot and that made me sick. I refuse to go back to work that much. So if success comes in the US doing very little, then great. But if not, nothing happens ”, he declared in 2003 to the MTV. Anyway, he has recently verbalized that, in one way or another, he regrets not having done something else on his part. Above all, bearing in mind that since 2006, when he met the one who would become his wife in 2010 and the mother of his four children, the actress and model Ayda Field, he has spent more time living in California than in the United Kingdom. “I just thought about not promoting anything, going to live there, being anonymous and enjoying the loot I had gotten. They offered me nice things and I declined. Now I say to myself: ‘I should have done that,’ he said last December on the program The Jonathan Ross Show.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.