‘Passages’ Director Tapped for Biopic of  Photographer Peter Hujar

‘Passages’ Director Tapped for Biopic of Photographer Peter Hujar

EXCLUSIVEBen Whishaw will reunite with director Ira Sachs to shoot an “intimate” movie about photo artist Peter Hujar.

Until his death from AIDS in 1987, Hujar was a leading figure in the group of artists, musicians, writers, and performers at the forefront of Manhattan’s downtown cultural scene. 

The untitled film follows Passages, the acclaimed picture Sachs shot in Paris with Whishaw and Franz Rogowski.

Passages has been enjoying awards season attention with Rogowski bagging the best actor prize from the New York Film Critics Circle — in fact I just saw him the other night at an event for the picture out here in Los Angeles.

Whishaw, Rogowski and the film are in contention for prizes at the Independent Spirit Awards. Whishaw’s also on the BAFTA Best Supporting actor longlist for Passages.

And he’s involved in another project that’s up for honors: Good Boy, which is a surreal short film he made with director and writer Tom Stuart. It’s one of 15 films shortlisted for the 96th Academy Awards in the Best Live-Action Short Film category.

Good Boy provides a poignant blend of slapstick comedy and “something really deep and difficult,“ as Whishaw put it.

In the short, the Paddington star goes on a journey with Marian Bailey (The Crown), a sort of final trip for a son and his mother in an old VW camper van. En route there’s a botched robbery attempt; the only bounty bagged is a pigeon.

Whishaw and Stuart have been friends since their early twenties. ”We met as young actors and we’ve known each other ever since,” Whishaw noted, as he explained how Stuart had slowly moved into screenwriting after penning a play that was staged at the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse. Now he’s ventured into film directing. “It’s so thrilling when someone you’ve known that long starts to really realize other talents that they’ve been harboring but not exploring,” added Whishaw.

Good Boy is dedicated to Susan Stuart, the filmmaker’s mother, who died in the Spring of 2020. ”It’s based very much on his mum and the loss of his mum,” Whishaw said.

Stuart had left London in the wake of her passing and went to stay with friends in Glastonbury. Whishaw revealed the director had taken his cast and crew back to the Somerset town during the shoot. Glastonbury, famous for the music festival that carries its name, is an area that’s said to lie on ancient mystic ‘ley lines.’ I swear those ‘lines’ channeled some sort of charge through the screen as I watched the film. “Yeah, there’s all of that going on,” agreed Whishaw.

And what about the dead pigeon that plops from the sky. Wasn’t it expensive to hire a crane to enable it to drop so high from the sky, I wondered? “The film cost 12 pence, so there wasn’t money for a crane. It must have been someone up a ladder dropping it ,” said Whishaw chuckling. “Everyone was very ingenious and that’s what these kind of projects can sometimes bring out because you’re just doing it for the joy of doing the work.”

The post “‘Passages’ Director Tapped for Biopic of Photographer Peter Hujar” by Tessa Solomon was published on 01/11/2024 by www.artnews.com