After a decade in development, “The Wild and Wycked World of Brian Jones” is finally ready to rock ‘n’ roll, with producer Stephen Woolley making his directorial debut.
Tom Hardy (“Star Trek: Nemesis,” “Black Hawk Down”) is in talks to star as debauched ’60s rock icon Brian Jones, the charismatic guitarist who founded the Rolling Stones but was fired in 1969 and found dead at the bottom of his swimming pool a few weeks later.
The official verdict was accidental death. But the screenplay, by “James Bond” scripters Neal Purvis and Rob Wade, claims Jones was killed by Frank Thoroughgood, the builder who was working on his house.
That thesis has been put forward in several books, notably “Who Killed Christopher Robin?” by Terry Rawlings and “The Murder of Brian Jones” by his girlfriend Anna Wohlin, who was in the house when Jones died. Thoroughgood reportedly confessed years later, on his deathbed.
As well as optioning all the available literature, Woolley has conducted extensive research into the case. He hired private detectives to track down Thoroughgood’s girlfriend Janet Lawson, who was the only other person present on the fateful night but disappeared after the inquest.
“I’m doing a murder mystery, not a rock biopic or a cut-and-dried documentary,” Woolley says. “The inspiration is films like ‘The Servant’ and ‘Performance,’ which were about people like Jones and Thoroughgood.”
The film is set in the final few weeks of Jones’ life, focusing on his intense and deteriorating relationship with Thoroughgood, flashing back to his childhood and the early days of the Stones.
In its handling of controversial factual material, Woolley compares the project to his earlier productions “Scandal” (about the Profumo scandal) and “Backbeat” (about the early days of the Beatles).
“I don’t intend to have any trouble from Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, because this film is not about them,” Woolley says.
“This is not about some saintly talented person who was ill used and sadly snatched from life. Brian was in many ways a monster. He lived life so fast, he became a parody of ’60s hedonism, with five kids by five different women, none of whom he acknowledged. He was the last decadent.”
The $10 million project will start shooting in September. It’s being set up as an Anglo-Danish co-production, with Gary Smith’s Intandem Films handling worldwide sales. Finola Dwyer and Michael Lunderskov will produce.
The financing structure will be similar to that of Bille August’s “Return to Sender,” in post-production, another decade-old Purvis and Wade script being co-produced by Woolley and Lunderskov and sold by Intandem.
As with “Return to Sender,” the Jones movie is being bankrolled by Intandem’s regular partner Audley Films, the film financing shingle of property mogul Paul White.