Sunday, 28 November 2010

Popcorn Diaries: Away We Stay

I probably would have made the front pages last week, if only that muppet Prince Whatshisname hadn’t asked his bird to marry him. And the reason for my almost 15 minutes was that for once, I was early.

The occasion of my punctuality was my appearance on the panel of judges to decide which books would make the 25 titles for World Book Night – an initiative where a million copies of those selected books will be given away by 20,000 passionate book readers.

Joining yours truly in the adjudication process were BBC big wig Alan Yentob, actor Stephen Fry, comedian Hardeep Singh plus another 20 or so souls, while the whole affair was presided over by Jamie Byng of Canongate Books and filmed for the BBC.

It is quite a big deal. Indeed, the great John Le Carre (whose The Spy Who Came In From The Cold is on the final list) emailed us all and said: "No writer can ask more than this: that his book should be handed in thousands to people who might otherwise never get to read it, and who will in turn hand it to thousands more – that is beyond his most ambitious dreams.”

I should add that the reason I was early was because I got the time wrong.

After our five hours of arguing about books, it was off to the Electric Cinema on Portobello Road where I had to quiz director, Edoardo Ponti (son of producer Carlo and Sophia Loren) the world’s biggest male model David Gandy, and supermodel Helena Christensen, on their recent short film.

Away We Stay is a 12-minute movie inspired Michelangelo Antonioni’s 1966 Blow Up, and was commissioned by the new W London Hotel, Leicester Square to celebrate its impending arrival in the spring.

Christensen plays a bossy fashion photographer who falls for a stranger, Adam (Gandy). They make a date and, in short, he stands her up. Both render their roles remarkably well – especially Christensen. I asked her if she’d consider taking up acting.

“No, no.” replied the 41-year-old Danish icon, who is actually more beautiful in person than in photograph. “It was really hard work. The concentration involved was immense. I don’t know how actors can do it for weeks and months on end as it is really draining.

“But I didn't take any acting lessons for this film and I think life experience helped me deliver my performance.”

Whatever the case, I am sure Hollywood will be banging on her door soon. But the burning question was whether, in real life, anyone had ever stood her up?

“It happens to everyone,” she grins.

“But what about you you’re not everyone?” I persisted.

“Ah you know… I am the same as everyone else, “ she chuckled gracefully sidestepping the question so, with a loud cough, I left it there.

And what about Gandy: “How was it for you?” I ask with a wink.

“Well on my first acting job I got to kiss Helena. How jammy is that?”

Answers on a postcard please.


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