Mojo - 'Look at Him'

Mojo // July 2010 nr. 200

Christopher Eccleston stars in Lennon Naked

In May Liam Gallagher announced that he's producing a film of Richard DiLello's Beatles insider tome The Longest Cocktail Party. But before that, in late June we'll get to see Christopher Eccleston playing John Lennon in the 90-minute BBC4 film Lennon Naked. Shot in just 18 days in late 2009 and covering the years from 1967-71, among its explorations are Lennon's meeting with Yoko, his re-establishing contact with father Freddie and The Beatles splitting. Written by Robert Jones, the cast also includes Naoko Mori as Yoko, Christopher Fairbank as Freddie and Andrew Scott as Paul McCartney.

"I'd been fascinated by Lennon," says Eccleston, "whenever anything came out I bought it, read it, even the shit stuff like the [Albert] Goldman book. I identified with him because I think he's so flawed, with this compulsion to show the dark side of himself. When he bares his soul with stuff like Julia, it's the most beautiful song.

"It was an incredibly intense experience playing him," he continues, "because the subject matter we were covering was all the subject matter he used for the John Lennon/Plastic Ono primal scream album. His relationships with his father and mother... I'm not sure he ever recovered from The Beatles breaking up. On the last night of the shoot I read this interview with Paul McCartney in the Times, and he was saying, 'I decided not to write a song about John, consciously, but if anything came, I would. And one day I was sat at the piano and [wrote] Here Today.' So I went home and played it, and I'm afraid I had a weep! But that was me, saying goodbye... 'cos what a gift, to have tried to be him? I love him."

Eccleston thinks the acerbic Beatle would approve of actors playing him. "It's like a piece of performance art! All these people pretending to be him, he'd think it was hilarious..."

Lennon Naked is on BBC4 in June.

© Mojo