Page last updated at 07:24 GMT, Friday, 14 May 2010 08:24 UK

Getting under Boy George's skin

By Michael Osborn
Entertainment reporter, BBC News

"My eyebrows were shaved off which was quite scary," admits 17-year-old actor Douglas Booth.

Actor Douglas Booth was transformed into the 80s pop star

That was just one of the sacrifices he made to play flamboyant 1980s pop star Boy George in a new drama charting his formative years.

"It was really tough. I was in the make-up chair for hours and after the first week my skin was peeling and really sore."

In an atmospheric film that captures the spirit of the New Romantic era and George's life in a squat and the Blitz Club, detail and appearance count for everything.

"No-one has said that I don't look like Boy George. We had the original clothes and make-up artists, and had his friends around us, so I think we've got it right," says Booth of his challenging role.

Even the man himself kept a close eye on the making of Worried About The Boy and was "hugely impressed" with the look, adds the actor.

Troubled man

"He didn't want to give me notes about my performance because he believed that I should take it forward. He put trust in me to find him in my acting.

"It's huge because it's my first lead and to be able to carry a film and be on screen all the time is no mean feat."

But he admits the physical transformation probably means he will pass unrecognised on the street without Boy George's colourful make-up and clothing.

The drama also focuses on the often troubled young man behind the flamboyant facade, and his complicated private life.

Culture Club performing on Top of the Pops in 1982

"He's a hugely colourful character and has so much depth to him. He was kind, vulnerable, sometimes insecure - everything, really," Booth says.

The actor needed to immerse himself in the pop star's frank autobiography and speak to people who knew him 30 years ago, having been born long after Culture Club's heyday.

"Everyone I have spoken to remembers that first performance on Top of the Tops and wondered if he was a boy or a girl. It stuck in the memory."

The film lays emphasis on George's intense relationships with singer Kirk Brandon (played by Richard Madden) and Culture Club drummer Jon Moss (Mathew Horne), piling further pressure on the young actor.

"I had to kiss them both and thought it would be quite bizarre. But I was so involved in the character it was George kissing Jon, not Douglas kissing Mathew.

"I'm good friends with Richard now and don't stand there thinking 'I've kissed him!'" laughs Booth.

Culture Club's debut performance on Top of The Pops in 1982 was recreated for the drama, and watched by Moss.

Steve Strange (played by Marc Warren)
Eccentric nightclub owner Steve Strange looms large in the film

"He came into the make-up trailer and was like 'woooooooah!" when he saw us.

"I think he found it quite bizarre and emotional. It took him back all those years to when he was having a relationship with George.

"I asked him if there was anything we could have done differently and he said, 'No, it's perfect'," adds Booth.

The sequence was partly filmed using cameras from the era, which led someone on the post-production team to assume they had used actual footage of the performance.

Booth admits he is nervously awaiting reviews of his performance, but says he will be "glad if there's some controversy".

"I hope to find more amazing stories which have such an emotional impact on me," adds the actor, regarded as a talent to watch.

"I'm happy being the age I am now in the present time, but living in the early 80s and being a New Romantic looked like a lot of fun.

"But a lot of it was to cover up their insecurities and some of them maybe weren't having fun..." he adds, remarking on the showy yet flawed character he has brought to the screen.

Worried About The Boy is on BBC Two, Sunday 16 May at 2100 BST.



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