What links Lesley Manville to Nic Roeg and Vic Reeves?

Go down the rabbit hole to discover how acting royalty meets the real thing, by way of Philip Seymour Hoffman and the Verve

Manville about town

Lesley Manville as Princess Margaret from season five of The Crown
Lesley Manville is in The Crown and a new TV take on Dangerous Liaisons … Photograph: Netflix

You can’t move for Lesley Manville. This year she’s been in the compelling BBC series Sherwood and starred in the charming Mrs Harris Goes to Paris. There was also BritBox’s Magpie Murders (though I maintain BritBox is merely an urban myth started by the Radio Times). This month she is Princess Margaret in another round of actors vastly more handsome than their real-life counterparts playing royals in The Crown (Netflix), and in a new TV take on the scheming loves and rivalries of Dangerous Liaisons (Lionsgate+).

Multiple liaisons

Ryan Phillippe in Cruel Intentions
… a 1999 version of which had a scene backed by the Verve’s Bitter Sweet Symphony … Photograph: Columbia/Allstar

Les Liaisons Dangereuses by Pierre Choderlos de Laclos is the 1782 French epistolary novel that keeps on giving … in endless instalments in various mediums. Christopher Hampton’s 1985 play became Stephen Frears’ 1988 film. In 1999, Cruel Intentions moved the setting to a New York high school. The film’s deeply 90s soundtrack concludes with a scene backed by the Verve’s Bitter Sweet Symphony.

Credit swaps

Mick Jagger
… based on The Last Time by the Rolling Stones, whose lead singer Mick Jagger starred in Performance by Nicolas Roeg … Photograph: Shutterstock

The Wigan band’s signature hit was based on an orchestral version of the Rolling Stones’ The Last Time, which led to a long, confusing rights dispute. Mick Jagger is no stranger to screen time, having recently provided the theme tune to the Apple TV+ series Slow Horses (in which he sounds a little like Vic Reeves’s club singer). His most memorable film role remains Turner in Donald Cammell and Nicolas Roeg’s 1970 cult classic Performance.

Love Roeg

Todd Louiso
… whose films inspired albums by Jim O’Rourke, who also wrote the score to Love Liza, directed by Todd Louiso … Photograph: Jeff Vespa/WireImage

For reasons not immediately clear, the avant garde noise-maker Jim O’Rourke named three albums after Roeg films: Bad Timing, Eureka and Insignificance. Among O’Rourke’s vast back catalogue is the score to the 2002 indie drama Love Liza, starring Philip Seymour Hoffman; the film was written by Hoffman’s brother Gordy and directed by Todd Louiso.

Lesley and Gary get married

Stephen Frears
… who was in High Fidelity, directed by Stephen Frears who also directed Dangerous Liaisons and Prick Up your Ears, starring Gary Oldman, who married Manville. Photograph: Shutterstock

Louiso is more recognisable as the intense/awkward nanny of that adorable kid in Jerry Maguire. Or as the intense/awkward record-shop guy in High Fidelity, the 2000 film directed by Stephen Frears, who previously turned his hand to Dangerous Liaisons, among other things. Ever prolific, in 1987 Frears directed Prick Up Your Ears, starring Gary Oldman, who married Manville that same year (it didn’t last long). In her third film role, Manville featured in the other work that year by Frears, Sammy and Rosie Get Laid.

Pairing notes

Eat An unforgettable performance in 2017’s Phantom Thread took Manville to the Oscars. Equally unforgettable are the film’s breakfast scenes – among the servings: welsh rarebit with a poached egg.

Watch Manville is a regular Mike Leigh player: All or Nothing and Another Year brought her to the fore.


Larry Ryan

The GuardianTramp

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