From stunt doubles to costume designers, we talk to the people who've helped make some of London's most iconic films. Italian director Michelangelo Antonioni set his first English-language film in swinging London, where a fashion photographer accidentally captures a murder on film in 'Blow-up'. David Hemmings’s lead role was heavily inspired by London’s own David Bailey – in fact, producer Carlo Ponti initially wanted him to star in it. Here, Bailey recalls why that was never going to happen.
How did you feel about being the photographer in ‘Blow-Up’ being based on you?
‘They asked me to play him! Carlo Ponti [the producer] said, “Would you like to make a film?” I said yes, because I thought they were asking me to direct it – I had already made ads and a little feature. Then they started talking about how I dressed, and I said, “What’s that got to do with anything? I’m not an actor. I’m dyslexic – I can’t remember a fucking phone number, let alone a page of script.” So they went away.’
Did you find it weird seeing a version of yourself on screen?
‘[That scene in the junk shop] puzzled me for ages. I thought: How do they know I paid £8 for that propeller? I’d hardly told anybody that. But I did find out years later. I’d been making a book at the time [of the film] with a writer called Francis Wyndham, and ten years later he said, “Bailey, I’ve got something to confess. I wrote a 200-page synopsis for Antonioni for ‘Blow-Up’.” That answered my question.’
What did you think of the film when it came out?
‘I thought it was a bit silly. David Hemmings was wrong: he was like a middle-class twat. I wasn’t a Chelsea boy. I hardly ever went to Chelsea in the ’60s. Ponti got in touch with me afterwards and said, “Are you going to sue us? Because we’d quite like the publicity.”’
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