Magazine article Screen International

Paddy Considine on Directing Himself in Boxer Drama 'Journeyman'

Magazine article Screen International

Paddy Considine on Directing Himself in Boxer Drama 'Journeyman'

Article excerpt

Paddy Considine is "not a massive fan of boxing movies". So it is perhaps strange that the British actor, known for intense roles in Dead Man's Shoes, The Bourne Ultimatum and Macbeth, has chosen not only to write and direct a film about a boxer but also star in the leading role.

"That might sound a bit odd," he says. "But in Journeyman we're not building some narrative where the character is redeemed by an ultimate fight. The fight begins when the boxing match is over."

Journeyman, of which Cornerstone Films is screening the first-look promo at the Cannes Market this week, stars Considine as middleweight boxing champion Matty Burton.

As he approaches the end of his career, Burton knows he must make his money and get out of the game, to secure a home and future with his wife and baby daughter. But after a titanic bout, Matty collapses on his living room floor, a delayed reaction to a devastating punch.

Awaking from the coma the real fight begins. Suffering from memory loss and with his personality altered, the fighter must begin to piece his life back together as his world disintegrates.

"It starting brewing a very long time ago and it's been around in my mind as a project for a few years," says Considine, a life-long fan of the sport.

"Earlier this year, a friend reminded me of it and it seemed like the right time to revisit it as an idea. I suppose being a boxing fan, I was always aware of the dangers of the sport and was aware how injuries occur in the fight game, very highlighted within the boxing world when one such incident happens when a fighter does get injured."

One particular incident stuck in his mind. "I was a teenager and a big boxing fan at the time when Michael Watson suffered his injury against Chris Eubank," he recalls of the 1991 bout that leftWatson in a coma for 40 days.

"I was always leftwith a lasting image of Michael on the pitch at Arsenal. He was making a recovery at the time but was still wheelchair-bound. I wondered what happens in that situation when the crowds disappear, when the adulation's gone and it's just you and the people around you that love you. That's the basis of how it started to generate."

Loss of self

Writing the script, Considine soon realised that the story would be about "the loss of self, having to find a new way to remember who you are despite the disabilities".

"It was about coming to terms with the massive change in your physicality and it became about memory as well as the things that are ultimately the most important - the loves in our lives, our families and children more than titles and trophies."

Avoiding the role

Journeyman marks Considine's second feature after Tyrannosaur - the powerful story of domestic abuse and an unlikely friendship starring Olivia Colman and Peter Mullan, which won the filmmaker the Outstanding Debut Award at the BAFTAs in 2012.

Considine was not in the cast of Tyrannosaur but seemingly could not avoid taking the lead in Journeyman, despite some serious consideration.

"I tried every way not to play the part, believe it or not," he says. "When I write, I do have people in mind. When I wrote Tyrannosaur it was for Peter and Olivia. When I wrote Journeyman it was myself and I had an image of Jodie Whittaker as the fighter's wife in there.

"I was the only person in my head as I was writing it and that started to distress me somewhat because I didn't ever imagine I would want to be in a situation where I was directing as well as acting in a film - effectively directing yourself. …

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