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Interview: Christopher Eccleston


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Photo: Steel Mill PicturesBest known for playing the Doctor in Doctor Who, Christopher Eccleston stars in the upcoming comedy drama Song for Marion.

Eccleston, who plays James in the film, described the subject of Song for Marion as a “spiritual awakening done in a very light comedic style.” He explained: “It’s a little bit like A Christmas Carol in a way. It’s about the awakening of a miserable old man to the possibilities of life.

“Arthur (Terence Stamp), my father in the film is married to Marion (Vanessa Redgrave). His wife is in a local community choir that get together and sing popular songs poorly. He’s very disapproving of this and distant from it as he’s been with his son all his life. I play the son.”

He continued: “During the course of Marion being involved in the choir, she realises that she’s got cancer and that she’s dying. This has a massive emotional impact on Arthur and his son, and increases the tension in their relationship, but Marion is increasingly involved in the choir.

“When she’s gone, there’s a gap and the young woman who runs the choir, played by Gemma Arterton, pursues Arthur to become involved, in order to help him deal with his grief and in order for him to shed some of his misery really.”

Eccleston, who has also appeared in ElizabethG.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra and The Others, said that working with Terence Stamp, Vanessa Redgrave and Gemma Arterton was a beneficial experience: “I looked at Terence’s character and I looked at Vanessa’s character and I had to decide how much each of them had influenced the psychology of my character James.

“I think it’s probably very difficult if your father’s distant, cold and unemotional. However, it seems that his mother was the complete opposite of that, which is often the case in couples, and she was very warm, very expansive, inclusive and optimistic. Based on this, I think I decided that my character was far more like his mother than his father.”

He added: “I only had one scene with Gemma but it was great to be around her obviously.”

Despite being set in London, Song for Marion was filmed in Newcastle and Durham, where the local community were “hugely supportive” of the film. Eccleston, who was born in Salford, explained: “You know you get a very specific generosity and warmth in the North of this country.

“It’s fact that people voted the Geordie voice as the friendliest on the telephone. We’ve got great locations. We were made to feel very welcome. It was a very positive experience up there.”

Song for Marion, also known as Unfinished Song, closed the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival, and has already received a “very positive” response. Eccleston explained: “You never get universal approval but generally people have responded really well to Gemma, Vanessa and particularly Terence’s performance, because he anchors the film.”

Song for Marion is released in cinemas on February 22nd, 2013.


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