Nowhere Boy: Sam Taylor-Wood follows Anthony Minghella’s footsteps

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Sam Taylor-Wood is the director of “Nowhere Boy,” a chronicle of John Lennon’s childhood. The film, which stars Aaron Johnson as Lennon, is being released by the Weinstein Company in October.

After the producers at Ecosse Films got their story, the next task on their odyssey to bring their vision to the screen was to find a director to bring the young Lennon to life. But Ecosse’s Douglas Rae and Bernstein were unaware that a new director had already happened upon a copy of the script they’d commissioned and felt that this was a project she understood deeply and wanted to make. 

Sam Taylor-Wood inspired by the late Minghella

Following the success of her Palme d’Or nominated short film LOVE YOU MORE Sam Taylor-Wood had been inspired to take the next step of making a feature by her long-time friend and producer, the late Anthony Minghella. She was simply waiting to find a script that captured her heart.

“Anthony Minghella was the one who inspired me to make the giant leap from making films that existed for art galleries to directing a feature. It was his interest in my artwork that started it all, and then we collaborated on my short film LOVE YOU MORE so he really encouraged me.  He asked me if this was what I’d really like to do and I said it was; he gave me the confidence because he genuinely believed I could do it and told me so, which was exactly what I needed.  Perhaps I would have come to it later, but I was almost waiting for something like that to happen, I wasn’t quite sure how to make the next jump.  There had been a lot of talk about it and I’d had a few meetings with people but nothing grabbed me and pushed me in that direction until he did.”

A passionate director

“I don’t think you could have half measures with a script like this,” Bernstein explains, “it was so arresting it was vital to get the right talent attached to it.  Sam came to us and she was incredibly passionate about the story, which mirrored elements of her own life.  She literally wouldn’t take no for an answer and that level of intensity was beguiling.  At a certain point you just have to use your instinct and say, let’s go for it.”

Taylor-Wood agrees. “There were many levels on which this film appealed to me. I felt I could understand where Lennon came from because of his creative mind and the occasional moments I border on thinking I might be mad because my mind never stops! I think also both of us had turbulent backgrounds so there were lots of parallels and many elements about the story I felt akin to.”

It was this connection and her dogged determination that eventually got Sam her wish.  “Robert had to ask me to leave him alone and stop stalking him. I basically door-stepped Ecosse telling them to give me the job. Eventually I think they just couldn’t stand it anymore and gave me the green light.”