– Joe, can I start with you, please? You were I think the
originator of this project. – Well, no Michael and
I together, I think. Michael and I had tried, we developed a few film projects. Feature films which hadn’t
gotten off the ground. We had this conversation which we said, “I think you know, television. “You know, BBC, English television, “a series, that’s what we should be doing. “Where the writer has more
control, et cetera, et cetera.” So that was kind of in my mind. (coughs) But my day job
was a record producer. I was working on, I had the joyful experience
of having a phone call from Chris Blackwell who said, “Do you wanna finish off this
Toots and the Maytals record “I’m making?” (coughs) So I got to
go into Island Studios and work with Toots and
all of his musicians, over dubbing and finishing the record that was called, Reggae Got Soul. There was this guy who used to come in every night at six o’clock. There was a guy, he’d bring
in these shopping bags full of weird, Caribbean tubers and go and cook up an ital
feast, vegetarian feast, in the kitchen and all
the Rastas would all eat, you know at the end. And he was not a Rasta. He had very short hair, wore
a beret, long leather coat. He’d drop names like,
Annie Ross and Ronnie Scott and talked about Soho
in the ’50s and stuff. One night, I gave him a lift home. He was stuck without a ride and I said, “Where do you live?” He said, “Shepherds Bush.” So I took him home and he
asked me in for a cup of tea and I walked into this
flat in Shepherd’s Bush, and the whole wall was covered in newspaper clippings, from 1962. And I knew his name was Lucky. I just looked at the
wall and I looked at him and I said, “You’re Lucky Gordon.” He said, “Yeah, man.” (laughing) You know, he gave me his
weird paranoid version of the story. Then, Michael met him,
again, like a week later. In other circumstances. – Which is now a good moment
to turn to you, Michael and talk about your meeting with Lucky and how you then went
about writing the script. – It was… I’m Australian and in Australia, we didn’t have TV til very late. It was black and white and the first thing I ever saw on TV was, the first thing literally
I ever saw on TV, was Christine Keeler, coming out of that
courtroom, being bombarded by babushkas and people saying,
“Burn her”, and stuff. So basically, I’ve been in
love with Christine Keeler since I was a child. Seemed to me that we made
this movie to, for her sake. Lucky was one of the people who had his version of the story, which was pretty fucked
up, but he had a version. Yeah, as Joe said, we tried to do it on TV and we got stiffed by BBC
and it’s a long story. – Boy yeah, they took it to, Joe and I are old friends,
as Michael and Joe are older friends, but
when we started Palace, we were primarily making films. So when Joe came to me with this idea of developing something for television, I was a little non-plussed, but the subject matter was so amazing. I was a bit too young to remember what happened with the Profumo Affair. All I could remember was stuff happened, it was shocking and when I started reading about it, Joe and Michael gave me some books and some information and
they had already started meeting with Christine
Keeler and Mandy Rice-Davies. I just thought, “This is amazing. “This is a great project.” Regardless that we hadn’t
made television before. So myself and my partner Nik, jumped in. At that stage, we were very
naive to the film business. We only developed to made films. We didn’t actually develop not made films. We just developed things
and then made them. Now of course, people develop lots and lots and lots of projects. But at that time, Nick and I were like, “Oh, we’ll make that.” We would just run with
something and make it. So we took it to the
BBC with Michael and Joe and they were really up for it, to do this TV show, which would’ve been, I think it was three one
and a half hours, or, – Yeah, three times 90.
– four? – Three 90 minutes.
– Yeah, so it was four and a half hours of TV, which is pretty big. We were delighted, all of us, that the BBC went, “Great, we’ll do it.” So they commissioned Michael to write the first hour and a half, on what they call the Bible, which would be the rest of the story. And we–
– Michael wrote the whole thing. – Yeah, yeah. He eventually wrote the whole thing, but initially, it was
the first hour and a half and they went, “This is fantastic.” Then it went to the next stage. So we had this story and, suddenly, they went cold. – This was 1984? – It would’ve been about ’83, ’84, yeah. We were just, we were just making–
– Well they went cold, because somebody, it was on a list of
projects that was reviewed at the annual meeting of
the BBC Board of Governors. You know, the drama
department was developing it. But then the Board of
Governors went, “What? (laughing)
“Are you serious? – Yeah.
– “You really are “going to make a film
about the Profumo Affair?” You know and at the time, I remember talking to
people just generally, in Britain, and saying
we were working on this and people would say, “Oh nobody here “wants to know about that.” You know? “No, no, no, you don’t want to. “That’s a really stupid idea. “You don’t want to do that.” And every time somebody would say that, I think we got more determined. (laughing)
– So we took it, to the commercial channels, whereas we thought, “Well, the BBC “don’t wanna do it.” And they quite, they said,
“Look you can take it, “it’s fine.” Basically they showed us the door. But they let us keep the material. So we then went to Central TV and Eastern and all of basically everyone we thought, Granada, you know, Granada we used to and cutting edge material and finally, we got to Channel 4, not Film 4, and we drew another blank. The guy said, “Are you guys crazy? “You know that there’s a
memo that’s going around, “saying, “Don’t touch
anything to do with Profumo.” Because, at that point, he was quite close to
Thatcher and was part of the little cabal that was
running the Conservative Party, even though his profile was very low, and he’d done some charity work, which was sort of, which was high profile, he had
done a bit of charity work. But what was low profile,
was he was still part of the establishment. We had no idea about that at all. We were very naive and as I said, we were in love with the material, but we didn’t really have the connections to know how the doors were
being slammed in our faces. And, Stephen Frears was
the original director of the TV show, when we
first mooted to the BBC, he was very keen on doing it. So we saw, I was suddenly, a little bit panicky, because we had, first sunk a lot of money
and time in the project, when years were slipping by. We already had ideas for Christine Keeler, Joanne Whalley. We already had ideas,
well we knew we wanted the brilliant John Hurt
to play Stephen Ward. There was nobody else in the world who would’ve possibly played it. So we had the film in our heads, or the TV show in our heads. But we then lost the director and we thought, “Well
we need somebody else.” That’s where it went to Michael. – Falls (mumbles) for me.
(laughing) You know, I had no, particular
dog in the fight at all. These guys had done all the spade work, before I got there. I was you know, a couple
of years out of film school and there was a kind
of thing at that time, I don’t know if I can remember,
but there was a kind of fad for making mini-series
and cutting a film out of it. They were trying to do
that and this was what happened with us. We said, “Well, we’ve
got these three things “and we wanna make a film of it by then.” But I think it became
much, much more difficult to get the money as
Stephen and Joe have said. And then, Harvey came in. He said, “I’ll do the film.”
– Well what happened was, that Michael and I, Joe and this Michael, didn’t really think
there was a film there, because they thought the material needed the four and a half hours, if we were to make a film, it would be reductive. So Michael and I sat and
worked a script out of it, that would be a feature film and through cutting and pasting, not writing anything. But just through going
through Michael’s whole thing and just saying, “Okay
this scene, this scene.” We spent three nights,
three days and nights in an office in Barrack Street doing this and then we came up with something that was two hours long and
we sent it to Michael and Joe and to our surprise, because I was expecting
them to knock it back, they said, “Actually, it makes sense.” So we all thought, “There
is a movie here, after all.” And we started to try and finance it. But of course, we were
facing the same problem with financing, that we were
facing with the mini series. People were scared and this was, only remember, 20 odd years
since the Profumo Affair broke. So we’re not that far away from it. We’re now 50 odd years away. So it all seems a bit silly now, that anyone would get
so pissed off about it. But at that time, there was a lot of anger about, “You shouldn’t do this. “Don’t rock the boat.” And the thing that
attracted all of us to this, and especially me, is that, you know, this
was Mandy Rice-Davies and Christine Keeler’s story. They had worked very closely with Mandy and I got to know Mandy, ’cause I actually, during
this period of time, I cast her in Absolute
Beginners, you know? Mandy was great. She was such a sport. You know, they were interviewing
Christine and Mandy, continuously, and we were renewing rights on their life stories. So they were very, very
close to this production and it was really important for us that we told their story. This was the story that no one had told, was Mandy and Christine and
of course, Lucky and Johnny. But, really it was their story and that’s really what we were pushing for and what I think Michael and I worked out, with the script was, “Let’s focus it on them.” Because that was the
story we wanted to tell. What happened with the financing of it, was that we had I think at the end there, you’ll see there’s a Dutch bank. There was a small company
called Miramax who jumped in (laughing)
and put some money up from America. There was some money from British Screen, a man called Simon Ralph
and he was brave enough to stick his neck out. Because, you know, there
was a problem with this with the establishment. Very quickly, I’ll tell you a quick story. We had cast Mandy. We had cast Christine. And we’d cast Stephen Ward. But we couldn’t cast Profumo and we started off with Nancy Hopkins. And we started off with, and we went to a whole slew
– Suchet. – of people.
– Michael Suchet. – Yeah, but that’s what it happened. Was when finally, it
went to Michael Suchet. And Susie Figgis, who did a fantastic job casting this film. I finally said, “Oh come on, Susie. “Michael Suchet just turned us down. “I mean I know why Hopkins did. “I know why Ian Holm did. “I know why, but, why?” And she said, “Look, I’ll find out.” And apparently, it was
because of the Knighthood. All of the actors that
were involved were like, “Oh my God, we won’t get, the honours “will be a problem.”
(laughing) Ironically,
(mumbling) so we thought, (laughing)
“We need an “alternative to this.” We cast Ian McKellen who
that year got knighted. (laughing)
So. It was really, it was really interesting. So yeah, so that was, that
was the kind of temperature. I only tell that story because, that is what was
happening with the agents, with the establishment was, “Don’t go near this material. “It’s wrong. “It will have an affect on your career.” That’s why none of us
have worked ever since. (laughing)
– And there’s, the weird footnote to this. Which is very telling, I fear, as an outsider, looking
at England, Britain. Once we had the film made, and we were releasing it, we were really hoping that there would be outraged Tories in the House of Commons. (laughing)
Making, raising questions, like, “How could we
possibly permit this outrage “to be released into our cinemas?” Which would be great publicity. We were almost relying on it. – So what happened? – The only people who attacked us, were Roy Hattersley and Jo Grimond. (laughing) They each wrote pieces,
op-ed pieces saying, “This is absolutely disgraceful.” The other one who attacked us, through an incident that
was reported in Private Eye. It was Harold Pinter. (water splashing)
So it was only the left, or the middle to left, that actually voiced outrage. Which I think, tells us
a lot about the dilemma we’re in today (laughs).
– So just to kind of, what was the budget on the film? – About three million quid. – Three million quid. – Yeah. – So obviously, a straightened
development period, and I know that there were challenges within the production as well and if you buy the DVD
and read the essays in it, you’ll hear about some of those issues. But I want to fast forward to when the film actually came out in the UK. Can you tell us, Michael about, what the response to the film was. – Well as I say, it was my first film, so I had nothing to compare
it to, I thought, you know. I went around that weekend, it was in all the newspapers. It opened the same week
as Rainman and Peter at the box office, which
they were very unhappy about, I found out later. But I thought, that’s you know, this is what you do. You make a film. Everybody slags it and then you move on and you make another one. So I thought, as I said at the beginning, you know, we never, nobody
ever looked at it as a film. It was purely down it shouldn’t have been made in the first place and whether that was
the right thing to do. You know, I think it slipped
past everybody at the time and I think it’s got some fantastic performances.
– It did great business. – Yeah. – It did great business. It was shown at the Cannes Festival. Michael got nominated for Camera d’Or. It was well received by a lot of press. But the general, you know, BAFTA was very different
then from what it is now. But the general consensus in
organisations like BAFTA was, this isn’t the kind of film
that should’ve been made and a lot of people, funnily enough, the
film got a big audience, from younger people than
it did older people. The demographic was slightly different, because before, you know,
people would actually go to the cinema then to see movies. So they couldn’t see it by, you know, video wasn’t
released for six months and the only way people could see it was to actually pay
money at the box office. So you know, we actually got, because we had the Pet Shop Boys, that was a number, I think a number eight
in the charts, the song. We used the video as a trailer. So it showed in all the cinemas. And it had Joanne
Whalley and Bridget Fonda and a young, vibrant
Johnny, Roland Gift was one of the supporting actors and it got a buzz, it got a very hip buzz. That kind of gave it the
fuel for the box office. But it also gave more
fuel to the naysayers, to not see it, because they thought, “Well, this isn’t the kind
of film I want to support.” So it kind of missed on that, ever being appreciated, other than by possibly by the French, or
certainly by the Americans. The American press was astonishing. – I think you’re underestimating. I think, to me, I mean, there’s no absolute
scientific proof of this, but I would bet that if somebody had gone
out like a year before Scandal was released, with a clipboard into a market town in central England, and just said, “Word
associate, Stephen Ward.” They would’ve said, “Jumped up nobody “who got what he deserved. “Made trouble. “Profumo, unlucky, did
what everybody else did, “in the wrong time at the wrong time. “Christine Keeler, whore, et cetera.” A year after the release of Scandal, I take the same clipboard to the same town and you would say, “Stephen Ward, unfairly tried. “Christine Keeler, a victim. “Profumo, got what he deserved.” I think the whole perception of the English broad public opinion, shifted as a result of this film, regardless of what the numbers were, in the box office or whatever. I think it had a huge effect and it’s created, over the years, an atmosphere in which you know, the BBC can now make a six-part thing, which they couldn’t make, – The Cannes and the television awards, will be interesting, because I think, the point that I’d really like to make is, it was not just the Scandal
didn’t win any BAFTAs, it was not nominated for a
single BAFTA in any category. And you can look at the films
that were nominated that year and it’s quite extraordinary, actually. When you fast forward through things like A Very English Scandal, the
fantastic, Jeremy Thorpe, – Directed by
– Affair. – Stephen Frears.
– Directed ironically (laughing)
by Stephen Frears. And to see the number of
awards that that series got. It’s like, it almost you
can’t compute it now, particularly having just
watched the BAFTAs on TV. – We all debated what the
first question would be. – And we all agreed.
(laughing) – We all said, “Let’s not
talk about the TV version, “because the first question
– It was the guy “will be,
– in the second row, yeah. – “The first question
(laughing) “will be,
– Right. – “did we see the TV version?” – Yeah.
– I think we all saw different bits of it. I think Joe and I watched the whole thing, for the sake of this actually, for this talk, because we thought, well it was very difficult
for us to watch to begin with because the colour palette, there’s something about the TV show that looks remarkably similar to our film. So it was very hard getting
through the first episode or so, because I kept, it was like déjà vu. I mean I just thought,
“Oh, oh and actually, “we did shoot that, oh. “No, no, this is somebody else shot that.” So it was very tough for us, I think, to watch, to begin with. But yes, I think we all saw. – Michael, how did you? – Well I only saw the first episode. I couldn’t watch anymore. I found it very confusing. I didn’t know what was going on. And I was getting angry, because I saw some of the shots, which, you know, “I know they’re mine.” And I didn’t wanna get angry anymore. But the interesting observation
I had about it was that, you know, when we made ours, as Steve said, it was like 20 years, or it was closer to the event and the people we made
the film with, were alive, at that time and they were aware of it, or they were alive in the ’60s and certainly understood it. I just feel that, you know, the people
making the television one, it just looked as though
they were all young and they were making
something about the ’60s, which was based on media from the ’60s. It was not necessary and it was just off, here, there and everywhere. I don’t mean to knock the thing, because it’s you know, they did what they did and they had a longer thing to film. But I felt that it was interesting that, also, when we started off, we were in the midst of Thatcherism and we definitely were
trying to make something that was not gonna be pleasant for the government to look at. I feel that today, they’re
making the same story and slanting it a different way where it’s about personal politics, which is different, you know? I just think it’s interesting
that the times have changed. Not necessarily the film making skills. Also, they didn’t have so much money and they shot it in Bristol and we definitely wanted
to make something that was about London. That that was a big aspect of it. And London in the ’60s as well. So I think you know, given the fact that they didn’t have as much money. They had to (mumbles) TV and
they were much more distance from the actual events, led them to the place that they got to. – I think it was the 21st
century version of the story. I thought Sophie Cookson was terrific. I think she kept it afloat. I think that’s why
people kept watching it. Because she was terrific. Because she gave as good as she got. Because she stood up for herself. Because she was feisty. That ain’t Christine Keeler. These, I know Christine, I
knew Christine Keeler very well and Mandy. She did a great job. But, it was the 21st century version, of Christine Keeler,
which missed, didn’t land. – I think it’s the way
history goes, you know? I think the farther
you get from something, the more stylized takes you get on actual things that happened. I mean you know, who do we know about what really went on between
Napoleon and Josephine? You know? I mean it’s very difficult, but I thought, I’m slightly out of step with everybody. I enjoyed it. I liked the sexuality of it. I liked the anger about Stephen Ward. It was, they navigated a lot
of complicated plot lines toward the end, the last
two or three episodes. It wasn’t as confusing as it could’ve been and I thought that Valerie and Jack were a nice addition, as a kind of, you know, we just didn’t have the time to do that kind of thing. But I think the fact that, they were able to improvise this way, you know, was due to the fact that, what I just said earlier about the changing that was a result of our film. They were able to do something different. I kind of enjoyed it.
– They did some of the scenes that we would’ve done, if
we’d made a TV show as well. Which is really interesting. I mean if you stay with it and you get to the last episode, having seen the film, especially, the last episode
goes beyond our film. So that was really
fascinating to kind of take where what happened next
to Christine and Mandy a little stage further and there was some good
writing there, as Joe said, the characters of Valerie and Profumo were suddenly, they were
becoming real people and Valerie Hobson in particular, but it’s very, it was
difficult for us to watch, obviously, but at the same time, there are things within the film, that we would’ve done ourselves, if we’d had that opportunity
to make a TV show ourselves from the original material. So one has to be gracious about that, that there is something, there’s some really good things – Careful!
– in that TV show. – The BBC knocked us back. – Okay
(laughing) and on the positive side, because your TV series didn’t exist, this beautiful feature film does exist. – There was an early process
that Michael and Joe had. I mean during the shooting of the film, Mandy had in Mandy fashion, had her own great,
fantastic, mad, crazy life and it ended up by the
time we made the film, being married to Dennis
Thatcher’s best mate. (laughing)
So. There is a line I think in the TV show, which is that she descended
into respectability. (laughing)
And she had really descended into respectability, because, Dennis Thatcher’s best mate, actually had a sewage works in Florida where he made all his millions. So she felt that she
couldn’t really be seen to be associated with our film anymore. So she used to meet us
secretly with Bridget Fonda, to teach her how to walk and talk and act the way Mandy acted
when she was 16 and 17. So she was very close to the process. – But at the beginning, when Michael and I courted their agents, they didn’t speak to each other. They each had an agent. But the agents spoke to each other and had decided that the
value of the rights combined was greater than the sum of the parts. So they would sell the
movie rights together. And so Michael and I would go
and have lunch with the agents and try and convince them
that we were the people that they should do the deal with and when we finally handed over the check and got the signatures, they gave us Christine
and Mandy’s phone numbers and they said, “Okay,
now you can talk to them. “You can interview them
as long as you like.” Technically, we bought their books, but the books weren’t worth very much. What was worth much more was, sitting down and talking to them and we then had dinner with Christine and with Mandy, on consecutive evenings. We decided to start with Mandy. We took her to the Dorchester Grill. We had a very jolly, entertaining evening. Then over coffee, Michael asked the great question. – What was that? – You don’t remember?
(laughing) I’ve been dining out on
Michael’s question for years, and he’s forgotten it. So I’ll take advantage.
(laughing) He turned to Mandy and he said, “You know, I’ve watched
all those newsreels “of you and Christine
arriving at the Old Bailey.” “Christine gets out of the cab “and people throw things at her “they scream at her, they
call her a whore and a witch, “and she has to pull her coat
up over her head like that “and run into the Old Bailey. “You pull up, in your taxi,” This was something that
I think they got wrong in the TV series, where
they had the two of them arriving together. They didn’t, they
arrived in separate cabs. And when Mandy arrived, she
waves like Princess Margaret and she steps out of the cab
and walks over to the crowd and starts signing autographs. (laughing) And Michael said, “I’m
intrigued, I’m fascinated. “I’ve always loved this footage. “How do you explain the difference “between the way the crowd reacted to you “and the way the crowd
reacted to Christine?” Mandy thought for a minute and then she kind of
looked over at Michael and she said, “Well you know,
I grew up around animals.” – Yeah, yeah.
(laughing) – And we went, “What?” (laughing)
And she explained that, as she didn’t have any money, but she loved horses in Solihull. And she used to muck out the stables and she’d go in there and she
said she could go in there and the horses, the minute she walked in, they would quiet down and then behind the stables, there was a field with
cows and a couple of bulls and then people said, “Oh
you mustn’t go in there, “it’s too dangerous.” She used to walk out there and walk up to the bull
and pat him on the nose. And she said, “I just
always could do that.” (laughing)
– Yeah. – Which I thought was just,
– (mumbles) yeah. – Which I just thought was
one of the great answers. One of the great questions. – Yeah. – And one of the great answers. – Well I told you mine already, you know, I knew she’d been stiffed. It was our job to make it up to her. That was really why I
wanted to make this movie. When I met her, more so. Because she was hurt and she was wounded. And it wasn’t her fault. But what happened when
these guys boiled down the TV series into a movie, is it became a kind of thwarted, peculiar love story, between Christine and Stephen Ward. That was a good idea. And that’s more or less, so. It’s not, I understand why this TV show thinks it’s showing it from Christine’s point of view,
any more than we were doing. – I mean one thing I’d like
to add to that is that, I feel that the casting of John Hurt and John Hurt’s performance, his reading of the script,
his performance in this role, is extraordinary. It’s so sympathetic and
there’s a feeling of him being scapegoated for this,
I think really comes out, whereas, before the
sort of media impression of Stephen Ward was the
jumped-up little punk from Torquay I think the expression was. – Well Michael really
needs to get some credit for what he and John did with that, because, the performance, a lot of people when
sadly John passed away, a lot of people cited Scandal as his, probably his best movie and that’s somebody who made Elephant Man, The Naked Civil Servant,
10 Rillington Place. I mean John Hurt is a sensational actor and I think the work that
Michael did with John, in getting that performance,
is extraordinary. I think that’s what nobody what slightly miffed me a little bit was that nobody realised at the time, what John was doing, other than the people close to the film. As Joe says, John almost single-handedly, well Michael and John together, sort of turned that idea
of this thing Ward was, into something much more complex
and much more interesting, than the bad man, who
brought down Profumo. – Michael, can I ask you about, tell the audience a little bit about your direction of John Hurt? I think it will be
interesting to hear from you, about how that, how you got
that performance from him? – John was the most magnificent actor. I mean he was a friend of mine. He was my mentor. He taught me an awful lot. He was what I imagined
actors were gonna be like, good actors were gonna be like. His performance, I have to say though, was difficult. I mean this quite well. He split up with his wife four days before we started shooting
and he was a basket case. He was a complete basket case. My frustration, I said, “I
don’t wanna do this anymore.” I says, “Hold up. “He didn’t his hair cut,
he doesn’t know his lines, “I have to put his line
here and his line there “and we have to read them.” I thought, “This is hellish.” But, once you realised that this that his behaviour was masking
an incredible sensitivity and just a desperation in his life, my job was really to get
him to focus at the point the camera was turning. You know, it really was as simple as that. He had a drink problem at the time, because he was a basket case. So he’d go out at lunch
time and he’d have a drink and afternoon, he’d be all over the place. So I’d shoot his dialogue in the morning and I’d shoot over his
shoulder in the afternoon. (laughing)
You have to do, I mean I had to learn an awful lot. Yeah, I never ever to this
day, resented him for it. He was going through a tough period and you just had to be there for him. So my memories of it
is not actually great. It’s just, “Get through the fucking day. “How the hell am I gonna
get through, you know, “oh God!”
(laughing) And that was my memory of
working with him, to a degree. So I did another two films with him. And I actually, on the third film, it was the first time I
worked with him sober. I was furious, because he was even better. (laughing)
than I thought. I was like, “Fuck and
you’ve kept that down.” (laughing)
But you know, he was in my mind, Britain’s Robert de Niro. He was as good a screen actor, as anything America has produced. He had command, control, nuance, a sensitivity, everything, everything he had. And you know, I don’t think he ever got the real recognition that
he deserved personally. She was there before I got there. (laughs) Strangely enough. – Steve cast her. – Steve cast her.
– Well we were, because we were moving along, during the process, I made a film called Mona Lisa, which some of you may have seen and we had a casting session for a part that actually
Kate Hardie was in, that played the part. And Joanne Whalley came in to see us and I was a big fan of hers through Dennis Potter show that she did. – Age of Darkness, it was called, wasn’t it?
– Yeah and she did some theatre that I’d seen her on stage. And she came to see us for this small part and you could tell immediately that the director Neil Jordan, it didn’t click. But as soon as she
walked through the door, of the casting session, I thought, “Oh my God, Christine Keeler.” So I chased her down
the street, literally, through Barracks Street Market and with the script, with Michael’s original one
and a half hours and said, “Please read this. “You would make a great Christine Keeler. “Stephen Frears is gonna be directing it.” We stayed in touch. Through all the ups and
downs of it’s gonna go, it’s not gonna go, she stayed loyal to the
character and the project and she had got married. You see interestingly, with John, John had broken up with
his partner at that time and flown in from Africa
where he had left his wife and, Christine, (laughs) Joanne Whalley, had
just got married to Val Kilmer. The actor and literally
was almost her honeymoon, when she came to make this film. So her nervousness, despite
the fact she’d been so loyal to the project, was that she was with an A-list American actor, who was very worried about his his partner being in
London, making this film about a notorious prostitute. So there was a kind of other dynamic that was going on there. Which was, so you couldn’t
have got two actors more diametrically opposed than John’s dilemma and
Joanne Whalley’s dilemma. So Michael and I worked
very closely on the film, to kind of balance out, I would be the shoulder for Jo to cry on and Michael would be the
shoulder for John Hurt to cry on. So that’s kind of how it worked, they were both. But you know, in the end,
it turned out really well and you know, Jo was a
fantastic Christine Keeler. – Joe Boyd, can I ask you
to answer the question about what happens to the real
life Christine Keeler? – Well I’m not the expert on that, except that she died just very recently. She had, you know, I think she, she got married, she had a
son who is very articulate, evidently has a good, I read a very long interview with him, which was fascinating. He lives in Dublin, he’s
married, he has kids. He’s doing well and he speaks
very movingly of his mother and her honesty and how proud he is of her and about the way she stood
up for herself in later years. You know, she was, as Michael said, she was hurt. – She was very, the reason that she, she had, something, that I don’t think I’ve
ever seen in anybody else, which was a fatal allure and a complete lack of self defence. She was entirely defenceless. And when you’re in the room with her, she was all yours. And when you left the room, and somebody else came in, she was all his. She couldn’t really say no. She had no way of protecting herself. She didn’t understand about self defence and she never, I don’t think, learned it. That’s what was so maddeningly alluring about her. Which was totally unconscious and it was just the way she was born. That’s why we’re talking
about her 50 years later. – I think one of the things that it’s important that I
always used to sort of when I was researching it and when we were developing the film, I would periodically kind of pinch myself and just say, when these girls came to London, when Mandy met Peter Rachman, when Christine first met Stephen Ward, they were 16 and 17 years old. It’s like, the playground behind the school. And instead of like flirting with a guy, hot football player, or the you know, just the good looking guy in
the grade above you in school, you know, they’re flirting with the guy who owns half of West London (laughs), and the man who would connect her, Christine to, you know, Russian and an Englishman, who, Stephen Ward had the fantasy that he could use to solve
the Cuban Missile Crisis. You know? It’s just an extraordinary story of the age at which these
girls changed history. I think, I mean well in
answer to an earlier question about what my attitude
was when I went into this, I didn’t really have, I was sort of fascinated to research it and find out what I didn’t know. I didn’t know very much. But I always, I arrived
in this country in 1964, I was in the music field and it felt to me at the time, as if this was a country that had just was sort of bursting out of a cocoon. You know, all this music going on, all these social revolutions, all these sexual revolutions. All these dope smoking revolution. Everything that was going on. It was like a weight had been lifted. Something a lid had been taken off. The more I researched this film, it seemed to me this was it. That it was the Profumo, it was Christine and the Profumo Scandal, that had said to the country at large, “You don’t have to listen to these toffs, “telling you to behave yourself anymore. “They’re even worse than you are. “So just do what you like.” – I tell you one thing, and it was a thing that they got wrong in the TV show. When they pulled Profumo out of bed, when he’d taken a whole
bunch of sleeping pills, in the middle of the night, the day before he stood up in Parliament. They didn’t say, “Have
you got anything to say, “say it now.” They said, “You will
read this out tomorrow. “You will get up there and
say what we want you to say.” Now, the people who were in that meeting, were still alive when we made this movie. There was no way that we could
put in a scene like that. But the fact is, the Conservative Party,
threw him to the wolves. That’s something we left out. – And there’s another
twist to that which is, there’s no proof, I just, the more I learned about it, the more I felt that, MI5 knew, I mean they’d been
getting information from war. They knew what was going on. There was a faction, Spycatcher,
the book that came out 15 years after the scandal, or more, 25 years after the scandal. Which talked about the plot against Wilson and the plot to get rid of Wilson, to get rid of the Labour government and get the Tories back in power. I always felt that, the faction within MI5, that
is written about in Spycatcher, is a faction that was deeply
resentful of MacMillan, for the way he was,
“giving away the empire.” There was a faction that wanted to pull him back into line and taking lead from J. Edgar Hoover in America who had, loved having information on people and dangling it and letting
him know that he had this and they’d better be careful
and not get out of line. That there was a feeling that the leak to the Labour government, to ask the question that
prompted what Michael just talked about. Came from MI5, that they wanted to fire a shot across MacMillan’s bough and let him know that they knew what was going on with Profumo and they could bring him
down if they wanted to, but they didn’t want to, they just wanted to keep him in line. The thing that I love about this story, is that everything changed, with a knife fight
between two West Indians at the Flamingo Club. Which happened on the night that Khrushchev blinked in the South Atlantic and turned the boats around in the Cuban Missile Crisis. The fact that Johnny Edgecombe ended up shooting at Stephen Ward’s
front door, a week later. Brought the press to Wimpole Mews, in the middle of the day and brought Christine into
the attention of the press and brought her connection with Lucky and her connection with Ivanov, into the public knowledge and the whole thing got out of hand and out of control at MI5. And led to the fall of the Tory government and the beginning of 15 years
of mostly Labour government. I think the MI, the security services, who had been just wanting
to scare MacMillan, were horrified that they brought him down and let in Labour and that all
those undermining of Wilson and undermining of the Labour government, was their attempt to undo the damage that they’d done with the Profumo Affair. That’s my own theory. – You heard it here first. (laughing)
So, I think that’s a good moment to – Yeah, so okay (laughs).
– draw it to a close. Thank you so much. – Okay.
(clapping)