Andy Serkis plays Ian Dury
IAN Dury is a British rock music legend – an icon in the 1970s and early 80s with his wittily suggestive lyrics and barnstorming tunes. Born in Harrow in 1942, he grew up in Upminster and often wrote about east London and Essex – notably songs like Plais
IAN Dury is a British rock music legend - an icon in the 1970s and early '80s with his wittily suggestive lyrics and barnstorming tunes.
Born in Harrow in 1942, he grew up in Upminster and often wrote about east London and Essex - notably songs like Plaistow Patricia, Billericay Dickie and Upminster Kid.
Disabled by a childhood bout of polio, he died in March 2000 from cancer and now a film charts his story.
Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll, a title taken from his 1977 song, stars Andy Serkis as Ian.
Here, the actor talks about the film.
Q. Were you always a fan?
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"I distinctly remember Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick. I can't say I was a massive fan but I absolutely remember the moment when I first heard Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick, which was a defining moment for me, as it was for a lot of people my age.
"I felt it was the first record that I really acknowledged that was around and that spoke to me."
Q. Can you remember where you were?
"It was on a coach actually. We were going on a school trip and it was on the radio. We were on the bus and listening to this extraordinary song which just conjured up so many amazing things."
Q. There was nothing quite like Dury's lyrics.
"For sure! The parents of one of my son's friends recently phoned us up and said, 'Your son, Sonny, is singing a song with the lyrics, I'm sick and tired of staying up and taking drugs...
" Those are lyrics from I Want to be Straight and Sonny's picked it up because I've been singing all of Ian's songs around the house and the kids have picked them up and know them really well now!"
Q. How much footage of Ian did you look at to get his gestures right and how much research did you do?
"Paul Viragh, myself and Mat Whitecross, as the team of writer, actor and actor, have looked at enormous amounts of footage and studied it very much in detail for clues to tell the story.
"In a way, we're not being slavish to every single detail because a lot of it comes from self-expression and certainly the performance comes from the way I connect to the music.
"So it's a combination of doing a lot of research and not ever feeling like it's Stars in Their Eyes or me doing an impersonation of Ian.
"I've played other real life characters and other actors would probably agree that it's not about doing an impersonation, it's about finding the emotion and where you connect with that character.
"I suppose where I connect with Ian, is his background in art before he became a musician. I studied visual arts before I became an actor.
"His whole juxtaposition of imagery, of words, moving from paintings into words and then the expression of words and that he considered himself more of a lyricist first and foremost.
"And the way he delivers his songs is very much like an actor delivering speeches or songs, as opposed to a virtuoso voice of a tenor.
"There are so many aspects - I could talk for hours and hours about getting into character.
"Obviously there are the physical aspects of playing a polio-sufferer. He had a very particular gait because his muscles and bones were affected by the polio all down his left side.
"In fact Sophie Dury, Ian Dury's widow, gave me some notes and said 'you have to imagine that this is a man who has the energy of a Tyrannosaurus Rex with a mangy arm and leg' and that's pretty much it.
"He never considered himself a disabled person as he knew what life was like before he was disabled, so he never had that mindset where he wanted to be pitied.
"He wouldn't let his disability get in the way of his life. He always felt that disabled people are made to feel disabled by other people in that mindset so he never found himself in that mindset, he was absolutely driven in that way, and so in that way his energy and my energy are very similar."
Q. What's was it like to go into a studio and record live with a real band?
"It was quite an amazing experience, and one of the most pleasurable parts of the job.
"This was back in February, before we got anywhere near the actual filming, but it was scary at the same time. Fortunately they're such an amazingly lovely bunch of guys who were absolutely passionate about pouring into this film, as were a lot of people who we've gone to talk to and freely given a lot of insight into Ian's character.
"Jemima, Ian's daughter, in particular, and Baxter his son, Sophie his second wife, then the Blockheads, who made for an amazing couple of days. But I was terrified!
"Standing there, in the same room, as the original Blockheads doing the recording with my version of Ian must have been weird for them too.