Liam Gallagher will "probably" star in Beatles comedy

The director Michael Winterbottom tells The National that he thinks the singer may have a part in the movie, a comedy set in the Apple offices.
The Beatles performing on the Ed Sullivan Show in 1964. The Longest Cocktail Party will not feature the band on screen.
The Beatles performing on the Ed Sullivan Show in 1964. The Longest Cocktail Party will not feature the band on screen.

Liam Gallagher may be recognised almost universally as a man not averse to acting like a petulant schoolboy. But so far these acting displays have been confined to his areas of expertise: the concert stage, the press conference, the paparazzi scrum and - more recently - the Twitter account. But a project he is spearheading could well see such talents soon displayed on the silver screen for the first time.

Through his company In 1 Production, the former Oasis frontman is producing a feature-length adaptation of The Longest Cocktail Party, Richard DiLello's book documenting the final years of The Beatles, from the founding of Apple Records in 1968 to the chaotic sessions for the band's last album, Let It Be, in 1970. While recording hasn't yet begun, Michael Winterbottom has been lined up as the director and, speaking at the Abu Dhabi Film Festival to promote his new film Trishna, the prolific British filmmaker hinted at Gallagher's film debut.

"I think [Liam] will have a part in it," he told The National, exclusively. "He's all over it." According to Winterbottom, they have a script already written by Jesse Armstrong (In the Loop, Four Lions). "It's a comedy set in the Apple offices."

There have been numerous Beatles films in the past, most concerning the period before they rose to international stardom. Nowhere Boy, Sam Taylor-Wood's acclaimed 2009 drama, looked at John Lennon's teenage years in Liverpool. In 1994's Backbeat, the story revolved around the band's time in Hamburg and Stuart Sutcliffe, their former bassist. Among the line-up at the Abu Dhabi Film Festival was Martin Scorsese's new documentary, George Harrison: Living in the Material World, a three-hour epic on "the quiet one", who Scorsese thinks led perhaps the most extraordinary life of any of the Beatles.

If ever developed, The Longest Cocktail Party could be among the first films to cover The Beatles without actually having them as characters. "The Beatles are actually off-screen doing the music," said Winterbottom. "It's about the mad chaos of Apple, so it's not dissimilar to 24 Hour Party People." Winterbottom's 2002 film 24 Hour Party People was a comical look at the rise and fall of Factory Records in Manchester.

The title of the book, The Longest Cocktail Party, is actually a reference to the excessive spending by Apple on entertaining the media and potential business partners, which led to its near financial collapse. The only thing holding the project back, claimed Winterbottom, is that they hadn't yet got the rights to The Beatles' catalogue. "I think Liam wants to do the music for it, which is slightly more complicated," he said, seeming less-than-enthusiastic at the prospect of Gallagher's band Beady Eye recreating the sounds of the 1960s. Instead, he said he'd prefer to use the musician's involvement to twist arms. "I'm hoping we can get Liam to tell Paul McCartney to give us the rights."

What sort of role Liam plays in the film remains to be seen. An obvious choice would be that of John Lennon, given that Gallagher has previously claimed to be the reincarnation of the late Beatle. Sadly, Gallagher has already scuppered his chances of playing his hero, claiming in Cannes this year while promoting the film that the Fab Four wouldn't actually be appearing. "There's gonna be no one auditioning for John, Paul, George, Ringo, and there's gonna be no wigs," he told The Guardian.

Thankfully, Winterbottom doesn't have any concerns about the potential pitfalls of trying to direct the notoriously uncooperative Liam in front of the camera. "I've met him a few times. He seems like a nice guy."

Published: October 24, 2011 04:00 AM

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