Director Cook Adds Colour to EIFF
Director Brian Cook worked with Stanley Kubrick over the course of three decades and witnessed the audacious piece of identity theft that forms the basis of the fantastic Colour Me Kubrick. He gives m...
Director Brian Cook worked with Stanley Kubrick over the course of three decades and witnessed the audacious piece of identity theft that forms the basis of the fantastic Colour Me Kubrick. He gives me the facts behind the true...ish story. Picture by Tina Norris.
Brian Cook has worked as an assistant director to many great helmers in his career, but it was his long-term association with Stanley Kubrick, and the assumption of the director’s identity by Alan Conway in particular, which supplied the inspiration for his debut feature.
“I was very close to it because all this was happening when we were making Eyes Wide Shut,” he recalls. “Tony Frewin, who was Stanley’s assistant, would get these phone calls from strangers with ridiculous requests saying, for example, ‘Kubrick owes me 300 quid’.”
The legendary director was, of course, not best pleased. “Well, he was hacked off about it but he couldn’t do a thing because no-one would come forward and have Alan Conway prosecuted,” Cook says. Thus the deception continued and Conway flourished socially and financially in his assumed role.
When it came to casting for the part of Conway, it was a no-brainer for Cook. “To get financing we needed one of the people I knew well from Hollywood, a great actor like Dustin [Hoffman] or Jack [Nicholson], and I knew that the only person who could play this role was John Malkovich.”
Malkovich is a whirlwind of accents and personas in an outstanding performance, playing opposite British TV comedian Jim Davidson who has a minor, but vey memorable, part as a campy dupe.
“I took a terrific chance using Jim in this but he’s an old mate of mine,” Cook says. “I didn’t want an actor, I wanted someone who could do this naturally. When Jim came to audition, it was the funniest reading I’d ever been to in my life. Absoloutely hilarious.”
The film has an energy which seems to flow straight from the ebullient Cook, who had a terrific time shooting his directorial debut. “All the crew were people I’d worked with over the years and the whole thing was such a lot of fun,” he says of his time on set. “When you laugh a lot making a film, usually you don’t flop.”
Neither Kubrick or Conway are alive to give their opinion of the film, having died just months apart in 1999, but Cook knows exactly how his old friend would react; “Stanley would laugh his head off.”
Colour Me Kubrick is showing at 21:30 today, 21 August, at Cineworld and as part of The Best of the Fest selection on Sunday 27 August.
This Is Edinburgh, in partnership with EIFF, invites locals of all ages to free outdoor cinema screenings in the Grassmarket and St Andrew Square.