A long-gestating movie about The Who’s late drummer Keith Moon is finally moving ahead, with plans in place to shoot in Britain this summer, Variety can reveal.
The project, which is tentatively titled “The Real Me” (the title of a song on Who album “Quadrophenia”), has Moon’s former band members Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend on board as executive producers. The pic is directed by Paul Whittington (“The Crown,” “White House Farm”) with a script from prolific British screenwriter Jeff Pope, who was Oscar-nominated for “Philomena.”
Los Angeles-based White Horse Pictures is producing. The outfit is best known for seminal Martin Scorsese documentary “George Harrison: Living in the Material World,” as well as Ron Howard’s Beatles documentary “Eight Days a Week: The Touring Years.” Founders Nigel Sinclair and Guy East are also known independently for movies like “The Ides of March” and “Rush.”
Shooting is set to begin on the Moon pic in June, and the casting process has been rumbling along for a few months already. Producers on the movie are Sinclair, Oliver Veysey and Jeanne Elfant Festa, along with The Who’s long-time manager Bill Curbishley.
The fact that production is actually going forward on “The Real Me” is a milestone for Who frontman Daltrey, who’s been keen to make a film about Moon for years. A movie about the drummer has been in the works for well over a decade with various partners, and it’s believed Daltrey first discussed his ambitions for such an undertaking in the early 2000s.
The Wembley-born Moon joined the British rock outfit behind monster tracks such as “Pinball Wizard” and “Won’t Get Fooled Again” in 1964. The drummer soon fostered a reputation for a hard-partying lifestyle and on- and off-stage antics such as enthusiastically demolishing his drum kit and blowing up toilets with cherry bombs. Although he’s regarded as one of rock’s greatest drummers ever, he’s also known for a crippling alcohol and drug addiction, succumbing to the latter in 1978. Moon died from a drug overdose at his London apartment at only 32 years old.
Daltrey, 77, and Townshend, 76 — who’ve had a bickering love-hate relationship in the press for many years — are the two surviving members of The Who’s classic lineup. (Bassist John Entwistle died of a cocaine-induced heart attack in 2002 just as the band’s U.S. tour was kicking off.)
Daltrey said in 2018 that whomever plays Moon will have to have a certain look. “It’s going to be very, very dependent on the actor and the actor’s eyes,” the musician enthused to BBC 6Music in an interview. “Because you’ve got to cast it completely from the eyes because Moon had extraordinary eyes.”
In a separate 2018 interview with GQ, the musician reflected on the drummer’s character: “Keith lived his entire life as a fantasy. He was the funniest man I’ve ever known, but he was also the saddest; I’ve seen Keith in some terrible times. I saw him at his height, but then I saw him at his lowest. Keith is someone I love deeply, but who was a deeply troubled character.”
Speaking to Rolling Stone last year, Townshend was asked about the possibility of a biopic about The Who and replied that he was “not opposed to anything that might help me pay for my yachting.”
The band has yet to receive the biopic treatment and has in the past been critical of movies like Freddie Mercury pic “Bohemian Rhapsody.” The most notable movies to date that are connected to The Who include Ken Russell’s 1975 satirical musical drama “Tommy,” based on the band’s 1969 album of the same name, and rock opera “Quadrophenia” (1979), which was similarly based on a Who album. In 2007, Daltrey and Townshend participated in the documentary “Amazing Journey: The Story of The Who.”