If there’s anything that anyone who purports themselves a fan of Morrissey should know, it’s that making the Smiths frontman angry means that you’re in for a world of hurt. If he’s not going to badger you relentlessly for months in the form of in-concert rambling speeches, then at least he’s going to pen a few condemning, choicely worded public letters voicing his displeasure to some national newspapers.
That’s why filmmaker Mark Gill (The Voorman Problem) is treading in hot water by developing an unauthorized biopic about the cantankerous crooner, no matter how good his intentions. It’s just not worth it, mate. The film, titled Steven (Did you know Morrissey even had a first name? You didn’t, did you?) aims to tell the story of pre-fame Morrissey, the man, the myth, the legend, before he formed The Smiths with songwriting partner Johnny Marr and became the most sensitive vegetarian to ever whisper sweet nothings on stage. And also a reluctant superstar who sold millions of records and the admiration of fans across the world — little things like that.
Gill’s biopic, written by himself and William Thacker, is apparently, according to them, less “paint by numbers” and “more of a portrait” of the singer,” which is code for “let’s tell a weird story about Morrissey before he was a cranky middle-aged man and even before he made any music. This is a movie about a British dude who doesn’t eat meat and has some general ideas about music and a list of things he doesn’t enjoy.” Without the music, it’s going to be a strange tale, but Morrissey was likely never a boring man. The product of cold, alienating parents, raised in cold and alienating Manchester, England, he somehow managed to rise from his surroundings and become a cult darling who still draws crowds of morose concertgoers to this day.
But even if Gill doesn’t want to go the traditional biopic route, the addition of producer Orian Williams to the Steven team means there will at least be a little structure to making this a proper film about a Very Important Person. Williams is responsible for producing the 2007 Ian Curtis biopic Control, as well as the 2013 Jack Kerouac story Big Sur; he’s also working on bringing us the story of the late manager of The Who, Kit Lambert. So really, Gill’s got a biopic consultant around in case he just wants to add an inspirational scene or two where we find out exactly why and how Morrissey decided to get into singing and songwriting.
There isn’t an actor cast yet to play Morrissey in his early form, his — dare I say it — more emotional self, as a child or as a young man. But if you could please, please, please let me get what I want, then there’s no question that Daniel Day Lewis should play him in his present day form. That is, if Gill should check in with today’s Morrissey at any point during the film. It just makes sense, as the lines between D-Day and Morrissey have been blurring faster every day since Lewis started rocking that earring and his casual feathers. There’s an uncanny resemblance to be had, and Lewis can even sing (see Nine). But since we know that there won’t be any excessive stage time shown on screen, it’s not that necessary that his voice sound exactly like the former Smith.
Steven is expected to start shooting at the end of this year.