Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Churchill Was a Strong Leader with Vision. No One Matches Him Today; While There Have Been Many On-Screen Portrayals of Winston Churchill over the Years, None Have Been Quite like the One Seen in Jonathan Teplitzky's New Wartime Epic, Churchill. the Director and Key Cast Members - Including Brian Cox and Miranda Richardson - Tell GEMMA DUNN More about the Man Behind the Myth

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Churchill Was a Strong Leader with Vision. No One Matches Him Today; While There Have Been Many On-Screen Portrayals of Winston Churchill over the Years, None Have Been Quite like the One Seen in Jonathan Teplitzky's New Wartime Epic, Churchill. the Director and Key Cast Members - Including Brian Cox and Miranda Richardson - Tell GEMMA DUNN More about the Man Behind the Myth

Article excerpt

Byline: GEMMA DUNN

THE release of Jonathan Teplitzky's Churchill is certainly timely. In the wake of the battle for Number 10, the biopic - a ticking-clock thriller that follows Britain's prime minister Winston Churchill in the 96 hours before the D-Day landings in June 1944 - has raised some poignant questions.

Namely, to what extent our modern day politicians measure up? Or differ, as the case is argued.

"Nobody matches him," quips Brian Cox, who, in the titular role, puts in a forceful performance of the late wartime hero.

"There's an element that's strongly missing, which is really good political leadership and leadership with vision."

"It's all self-aggrandising now," he adds, shaking his head. "It's not about the future, it's not about the country, and it's not about how you bring this community together."

"We live in a multicultural country that has to be brought together and for too long it's been allowed to drift apart," alleges the 71-year-old, who famously defined Shakespeare's King Lear at the National Theatre.

"There has to be a fusion and you need a great leader to bring that fusion about. We ain't got one - and we need one desperately."

Jonathan shares a similar view. "I think Churchill would have won the (recent) election if he was standing, because what he did and what his great talent was, was to lead people in whatever way he felt best equipped to do," he says.

"To give them the sense in very black and white extraordinary times - we live in much more murky times (today) - that tomorrow would be better and some time at the end of that process for our way of life, what we believe in, what we feel about each other, there was hope."

"I don't necessarily think that every politician knocking about today even can identify with that," muses the Australian director, whose credits include The Railway Man and Marcella.

"That's why it's poignant to watch a film like this now, to ask those questions."

To open up the debate, Jonathan set his sights on uncovering the man behind the myth.

"The different perspective on Churchill, not just his performance as the prime minister, but his vulnerabilities, are as important for us to know," he explains. "As they make his achievements all the more great.

"This was a man whose best years, in many ways politically, were already behind him.

"This is four years after the Blitz, this is at a very vulnerable time in his life; he's suffering from depression, drinking a huge amount, and in many ways he's isolated from some of the big decision-making he would have been in the centre of a few years earlier.

"(This is) very different from the other portraits that are painted of him."

Yet it is all in the "great humanity", remarks Brian.

"I mean, we're human beings after all, everything costs, you pay your price, and I don't think that he was exempt.

"He was an amazing individual and he had an extraordinary constitution," adds the Scottish star, reeling off anecdotes from a time when Churchill put a "curse" on Dundee.

"He drank too much, he had depression, he only slept three hours a night, but he also had this great wife," he says, gesticulating in the direction of his co-star Miranda Richardson.

"(She wouldn't take) any rubbish from this great big baby," quips the Harry Potter actress, 59, who plays the unflinching Clementine "Clemmie" Churchill. …

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