Page last updated at 10:44 GMT, Friday, 16 February 2007

Queen director Clough film hopes

Stephen Frears speaking at Ffresh (picture: Keith Morris)
Stephen Frears said Sheen had a "very precise quality"

The Oscar-nominated director of The Queen has confirmed that he intends to make a film about outspoken football manager Brian Clough.

Stephen Frears said Welshman Michael Sheen had been lined up to play the lead role because he "looks like him".

Based on the novel The Damned Utd, the film will examine Clough's turbulent 44 days in charge of Leeds United in 1974.

Speaking at the Ffresh film festival in Aberystwyth, Frears also said he was surprised by The Queen's success.

Newport-born Sheen, who was brought up in Port Talbot, has already played Tony Blair twice, including his role in The Queen, as well as actor Kenneth Williams and lately interviewer David Frost on stage.

Frears said there was a "strong likelihood" the film about Clough would be made and he said he hoped to start shooting it at the end of the year.

He added that the movie would be based on David Peace's "wonderful book" about the lengendary manager, while the screenplay would be written by Peter Morgan, who penned The Queen.

Brian Clough, pictured in the early 1970s
Sheen will play football manager Clough in 1974

Clough's unconventional approach to football management won him successive European Cups with Nottingham Forest in 1979 and 1980, and a League Championship.

He also won the league title with Derby County in 1972, but a row with the club's directors forced his resignation a year later.

He was lured to Leeds United to begin one of British football's top jobs in 1974.

But his reputation for aggressive management soon got him into trouble, and he was sacked after only 44 days when the players mutinied. Clough died in 2004.

"I'm hoping to make a film about Brian Clough at the end of the year based on a wonderful book I came across," said Frears.

"The truth is that it hasn't been written yet. Peter Morgan is writing it, and with luck we will make it."

He added: "There's a strong likelihood I'm going to be doing it.

"I know Michael Sheen is going to play him (Clough) because he looks like him."

Michael Sheen
He has caught people's imagination playing people like Blair and David Frost
Stephen Frears on Michael Sheen

Frears was a special guest at the Ffresh festival on Thursday night, a showcase for Wales' talented young film-makers.

He talked about his life as a film-maker and took questions from an audience of more than 300.

But when asked why The Queen had been so successful, Frears found it difficult to reply.

"I've no idea," he said. "It's taken me completely by surprise.

'Casting'

"I don't know why it's so popular other than it's the most brilliant film," he joked.

"It was mainly about driving around in Scotland and was an unremarkable film to make."

The drama centres on the Royal family's reaction to the death of Princess Diana in 1997.

The Queen has already secured six Oscar nominations, including one for Frears as best director and another for its star, Dame Helen Mirren.

It was nominated for 10 Baftas and won two for best picture and best actress for Dame Helen, adding to her Golden Globe.

Frears went onto say what he thought made a successful film.

"Helen Mirren playing the Queen is the best piece of casting in the world," he said.

"By casting her most of the work had been done. The trouble starts when you get the casting wrong."

Speaking to BBC News later, he praised Sheen' s work.

"He has some quality in him, some very precise quality, and he has caught people's imagination playing people like Blair and David Frost," he said.



SEE ALSO
British success dominates Baftas
12 Feb 07 |  Entertainment
The Queen takes critics' awards
08 Feb 07 |  Entertainment
Director Frears heads Cannes jury
12 Jan 07 |  Entertainment
Obituary: Brian Clough
20 Sep 04 |  Football
Film students hear from experts
17 Feb 06 |  Mid Wales

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