And Finally Artist News

Robbie Williams to be played by CGI monkey in biopic

By | Published on Wednesday 3 March 2021

Robbie Williams

When he was recently interviewed about his planned Robbie Williams biopic ‘Better Man’, director Michael Gracey said that how the star would be represented in the film was “top secret”. Now, it turns out that what he was keeping under his hat is that Williams will appear on screen as a CGI monkey.

He may not have been keen to reveal all to the press about a film that is yet to be made, however this week he’s (virtually) at the annual European Film Market, where he is providing more detail to international buyers. Which means more info is being shared. And, yeah, I’ll say it again, because I think it’s worth saying again, the word is that Williams will be portrayed by an animated monkey.

In an interview with Deadline last week, the ‘Greatest Showman’ director said: “How we represent Robbie in the film, that bit is top secret. I want to do this in a really original way. I remember going to the cinema as a kid and there were films that blew me away and made me say, as I sat there in the cinema, ‘I’ve never seen this before’. I just want the audience to have that feeling”.

“It’s so important when they watch this story, and look at the screen, that they literally think, ‘I’ve never seen this before'”, he went on. “All I can say is the approach is top secret, but the goal is to generate that feeling I just described. It’s this fantastical story, and I want to represent it in its harsh reality all the way to these moments of pure fantasy”.

He’s probably right that audiences would not have seen a CGI animal representing a musician in the story of their life before. And maybe this is actually a great idea.

Biopics can be a bit tedious at the best of times. Sure, ‘Walk The Line’ won a load of awards, but wouldn’t it have been better if Johnny Cash had been played by a wolf or something, instead of Joaquin Phoenix? And maybe the tedious contract disputes that made up the bulk of the runtime of ‘Straight Outta Compton’ would have been easier to sit through if the onscreen NWA had been a whole menagerie of computer-generated beasts.

Whatever, it’s not clear if Williams will be a monkey for the whole film or just a portion of it. Or, indeed, if any other characters will be cartoon animals too. Gary Barlow as a donkey, perhaps. We do know that Williams is involved in the film though. Gracey’s script will be based on conversations with the musician and Williams is set to record new versions of his songs for the film.

“All Robbie’s songs will be re-sung, for the emotion of the moment”, Gracey explained to Deadline. “If in his life he’s in the depths of despair, he’s not going to sing a song [with] cabaret flamboyant showmanship; it’s going to be broken, a cappella, stripped down, because that’s where he is emotionally. In moments of pure joy, you’ll get songs sung in this whirlwind of hysteria”.

Anyway, I hope this project attracts lots of interest at EFM and they hurry up and make this movie already. It’s either going to be the best or worst biopic ever made, and I want to watch it either way.