Take That is one of the biggest bands in chart history and has amassed a legion of fans since they first hit the scene in the 1990s. In 2017, Tim Firth brought their music to the stage through the eyes of his band’s group of friends. The show focuses on his 1990s friends as they reunite for a gig 20 years later. This time, “How to Build a Girl” director Corky Guidroic adapted the stage play into a movie called “The Greatest Days,” starring Irish actors Lara McDonnell and Aisling Bee as Rachel. is the protagonist of a story that spans 25 years. To find out more, we spoke with Coky Giedroyc.
What made you want to tell this story?
The story existed as a musical called The Band. I came to it relatively late. Producer Danny Perkins reached out to me and gave me the script. I loved it so much, but I’m an old bird and my time was in the 1980s. I didn’t know Take That or my young friends. I took my daughters to see Milton Keynes and Cardiff play. I was blown away by the crowd, the fans and their enthusiasm and loyalty. My 16 year old daughter didn’t even know about Take That. She was a little tired, but when she turned on her spirits rose. There were 100,000 mostly female fans in the stadium, so there were some great men who loved that band, but mostly women loved that band, so I want to make a movie for them and about them. I thought. There were mothers and daughters, chicken night friends, grandparents, and generations of women. It was an anomaly. I was watching the fans as much as I was watching the band. When I saw it, I wanted to write a screenplay.worked with tim [Firth] We drastically changed the structure to become the movie we have now.
Tim Firth wrote the stage musical. How did he react to the changes you tried to make to his original idea?
Tim is really supportive and knows good ideas. He pushed back on what didn’t work and embraced what pushed it forward and made it more cinematic. The biggest thing I brought to the table was keeping the story centered on Rachel. [played by Aisling Bea]. Each character is equal in this movie, but I felt strongly that Rachel had to lead the movie. She had to be her heartthrob, guiding us throughout the story and having to be emotionally grounded. When Aisling came along, she did some great things and Tim agreed that changing her focus was the right way to go for the movie.
How did you know Aisling was right for the lead role?
Originally the cast was different. Initially it had Rosamund Pike and Ruth Wilson. We were going to start production in March 2020, but due to the effects of the new coronavirus, production did not come and go for two years. It was stressful, but the cast stayed loyal to us for as long as possible. They all had other obligations and couldn’t wait any longer. Jade Adams was the only one left. She was an OG. We had to regroup and rethink everything, and that’s when I joined her Aisling. Because I was a big fan of This Way Up. Aisling unlocks her great comedic side, with her friendliness and warmth. It was my idea that her character was a nurse. Aisling embodied her no-nonsense, down-to-earth personality, so her nurse made sense to her. There are some interesting changes in the film that Aisling helped unleash.
How did you approach casting the young actors?
I have witnessed hundreds of children through open castings and self-tapes, calling out to dance schools, musical theater academies, and wherever young people are trained. Some of them will stick with you. I watched Caragon Guest and knew she was a younger version of Jade’s character, and Jade worked with her to fix her quirks. It’s like juggling. You look at someone and think, oh my god, this person would be great, but do they fit? How can I work with them to be the younger version? When I went to see them in Belfast, I noticed Lara McDonnell. she was incredible. Casting her as the younger version of Aisling’s Rachel was a no-brainer. They spent a spa day together to get to know each other.
There’s also a dancer who plays the role of a boy, so there’s a lot to make ends meet. Was the casting process different for them?
yes. We used a completely different casting system for the dancers. We had a casting director for the actors and a casting director who did all the casting for the musical dances. I went to Magic Mike. I went to see a lot of ballets and musicals. There was a large audition and the actors had to be narrowed down to her five.
You did a TV version live of “Sound of Music”. Ready for your best days?
Well, it was right around the time of rehearsal, so it was a very good foundation. Films don’t have much rehearsal time, and television doesn’t have much rehearsal time either. When I did The Sound of Music, I was given ten weeks of rehearsals for him, with people who taught me how to structure it, how to train the dancers, and the importance of planning routines and workshops. I worked. Working with dancers is a new discovery. Their discipline and cooperative nature are amazing. they are great They lift my spirits every time I’m on set.
The dance routine in the opening sequence is wonderfully imagined. Was it a collaboration between you and the choreographer?
Tim wrote this wonderful sequence. From the beginning, he rightly said we have to put out a stall. At the beginning of the movie, you have to do something really nice and a little off-theme to let the audience know that you’re about to see Magic He’s Reality. They have an imagination that it is part of their lives. From time to time these boys show up. Tim was right when he said the audience had to be sucked into the world.
You are also active in period dramas. Did the 1990s really feel like a big change?
They are different areas, but all about preparation. I draw everything in storyboards. I draw everything. I know how to get into the scene. It doesn’t matter what period of time it looks like, as long as you know what beats need to be hit within each scene, where they’re coming from and where they’re going. Period is wig, costume, corset. Everything else is just the tools you need to tell your story. Whether it’s a carriage, a dance routine, or a bit of magical realism, it’s still about where I have to go, what the characters feel, and how I navigate it. It’s about I try not to be intimidated by its scale or severity. As we walked to the tarmac at Stansted Airport, they shut down part of the airport for us, and while 50 dancers acted out scenes from Greatest Days, the planes flew off. It felt great to go. It was surreal. It was amazing. I loved it, it was a career high.
How involved was Take That in the film?
They were very enthusiastic about it. Robbie was not involved, but very supportive. Gary, Mark and Howard were particularly passionate about music. Their sound His engineer Ryan worked with the composer to structure the song and gave it a 90s glow. They were very supportive when it came to filming. They came to Zoom with me and told me how great they thought it was. They visited the shooting site. They are really nice people and I feel humbled by all of them. They didn’t want it for themselves, they always insisted it was for the fans. Obviously they’re happy to see the music come out again, but the important thing was to tell a story and use the songs with real sincerity and real heart. That’s what they care about.
Finally, there is a scene where the young characters and their adult selves come together. It’s so beautiful and inspiring. What was it like putting it together?
It was really great to shoot it. I get goosebumps just thinking about it. Amazingly simple, nothing special. We didn’t want it to feel tampered with or have CGI in it. Its simplicity is what I’m really proud of. We shot most of those little scenes over two nights. It’s not in the movie, but when we were rehearsing, it was incredibly windy and so atmospheric that the glass on the side of the window on the road was blown out. It felt like something special was happening. The cast all had real relationships with each other, the older actors, and their younger selves. We were staying together in the same hotel in Athens. We had a connection and the scene was quiet and lovely.
Words – Carla O’Doherty
‘GREATEST DAYS’ hits cinemas in Ireland from June 16th