Shaun Ryder: New film about my life will be a love story
Shaun Ryder has told Sky News a new film about his life will show a different side to the sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll he became famous for with the Happy Mondays.
The 57-year-old says the film, starring Skins actor Jack O’Connell, will show his problems with learning difficulties at school, as well as his love story with his wife Joanne, whom he has known since they were teenagers.
Ryder also revealed his mum wasn’t too pleased when she heard about the biopic, fearing she would be presented as a “downtrodden mad woman”.
The singer, who rose to fame in the late 1980s, was a key figure in the Madchester cultural scene at the time and became as famous for his hedonistic lifestyle as he was for his hits with the Mondays and his second band, Black Grape, later in the ’90s.
After giving up heroin, his career was reinvigorated when he finished runner-up on I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here! in 2010, releasing his autobiography, Twisting My Melon, the following year.
The biopic of his life was announced earlier in September, and Ryder says fans might be surprised when they see it.
“We made it a little bit different than the autobiography, it’s sort of gone in a different way,” he says.
“It’s not all sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll, it’s got a twist. It’s sort of a love story, and about a kid with learning difficulties at school.”
Ryder, who was also portrayed in the 2002 film 24 Hour Party People, starring Steve Coogan as Factory Records boss Tony Wilson during the Madchester era, says most bands follow a similar path.
“Every rock ‘n’ roll band story, they’re all pretty much the same, aren’t they? You start, you get drugs, you break up or you die.”
But will his have a happy ending?
“Well hopefully. I mean I’m not ended yet. I’m still breathing, so it’s all good.”
Working with director and screenwriter Matt Greenhalgh – who wrote Control, about Joy Division frontman Ian Curtis, and Nowhere Boy, which chronicled John Lennon’s younger years – Ryder wanted to show other aspects of his life.
“When I was at school there was no such thing as learning difficulties,” he says. “You know, dyslexia wasn’t spotted, ADD (attention deficit disorder) wasn’t spotted. I wanted to show all that.
“I ended up leaving school at 15 and I started the band at 18. I went a different way.
“The film is also a love story as well because my missus, who I’m with now, we first met when she was 17, but Joanne blew me out… sort of till I grew up a little bit, and reeled me in again at 40.
“We’d always stayed in touch because we had the same crowd of friends – her best mate married my best mate, he was tour manager of our band. So we stayed in the same circle. But when I was 40 years old and ready to grow up she reeled me in.
“It’s that angle, the love story as well. So yeah, you’re not going to get what you expect with the movie.”
Ryder says an upcoming film about Alan McGee, who founded Creation Records and signed Oasis, and now manages the Happy Mondays, will “make up for it with all the sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll”.
He says BAFTA Rising Star winner O’Connell, who also starred in Unbroken, produced and directed by Angelina Jolie, is the right person to take on the role.
“The only person I really wanted to do it was Jack,” he says. “I mean, he’s a brilliant actor and, you know… he’s a good looking lad.”
Was that part of the criteria?
“Well… he had to be a good actor. Yeah. Plus, he’s northern and he’s just brilliant.”
Ryder says he has every confidence that O’Connell can step into his shoes.
“He can do it, believe me he can do it.”
So far, Jason Isaacs (Harry Potter, Black Hawk Down, Hotel Mumbai) and Maxine Peake (The Theory Of Everything, Shameless) have been confirmed to play Ryder’s parents, while Joanne will be portrayed by Holliday Grainger (Cinderella, My Cousin Rachel).
Ryder thinks they are still looking for someone to play his Happy Mondays bandmate Bez.
Joanne is “good” with the film, he says.
He said: “I don’t think me mam’s too pleased though. She’s been listening to rumours… I said, ‘Mam, I’ve got the script here, would you like to read it?’
“Because she’s heard somewhere or someone’s said to her she’s going to be portrayed as this sort of downtrodden, er, bit of a madwoman.
“I’ve said, ‘where have you got that from, Mam?’ Listening to people that don’t really know, just the gossip on the street.
“She thought it was great that Maxine Peake was playing her and then obviously going out and shopping she’s been… listening to people that really just you know, making stuff up.”
Ryder says he was inspired to form the Happy Mondays not by other bands, but by the films That’ll Be The Day and Stardust, starring David Essex, in the ’70s.
“I’ve seen them about 20 times,” he says. “I mean, I grew up with music in our family; our family was a bit like the Jim Royle family, you know, dad out with a banjo and all that lot, and sitting around watching telly.
“Having a large family and cousins – nine in one family and 11 in the other, with all different ages listening to all types of music – I got into all different types of music but I never thought about being in a band or anything till I watched That’ll Be The Day and Stardust.
“I thought, well, you know what, I’m gonna have a bit of that – but I’m not going to die in the end.”
Ahead of filming, which starts at the beginning of 2020, Ryder is getting ready for a Happy Mondays tour and is also taking part in Q&A shows across the country.
“We did Edinburgh the other night, where it kicked off a bit because the first two questions, the first one was religion, the second one was politics. So that got a bit rowdy.”
What did he say?
“I’m not even going there with it. It was bad enough on the night.”
An Evening With… Shaun Ryder shows, presented by Toura Toura, are on now. The Happy Mondays greatest hits tour starts on 23 October