Sir Derek Jacobi (Quentin Neely CBE)
A veritable national institution, with an incredible career in the theatre, television and film, here Derek plays a dark, sinister and power mad head of The Morris Circle, the fictional governing body of morris dancing in England. We had wanted him to dance in the film but couldn’t afford the insurance so he had to make do with an administrative role instead…
Recent highlights include a critically acclaimed Malvolio in Twelfth Night at the Donmar Warehouse, Don Carlos and A Voyage Around my Father. Film work includes A Bunch of Amateurs (with Burt Reynolds), The Golden Compass, Nanny McPhee, Gosford Park, Love is the Devil and Gladiator.
Greg Wise (Miloslav Villandry)
Another national institution. Gained a notoriety and absurd popularity with men and women alike following a certain scene with a wet blouson in Sense and Sensibility. The Producers of Morris, jealous of this attention and adulation, therefore cast him as a pot-bellied, pony-tailed and saffron-robed Caifornian software billionaire. And still he looked good! The cad!
Apart from the oft mentioned Sense, you will have seen Greg in Tristram Shandy, Johnny English and, most recently, Cranford.
Ian Hart (Endeavour Hungerfjord Welsh)
Ian is one of the world’s leading Evertonian actors as well as being one of England’s finest thespians. A joy to work with, he is a veritable chameleon and often flits unrecognisably from role to role. However, whether as Professor Quirrell in Harry Potter, John Lennon in Backbeat or Don Konkey in the US television series, Dirt starring alongside Courtney Cox, he still always manages to steal the show…
Naomie Harris (Sonja)
Beautiful, intelligent, talented. It’s simply not fair. With that in mind, we refuse to tell you any more.
Ok, so she’s been in a few, not bad things like Street Kings, Miami Vice, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End, Tristram Shandy and 28 Days Later. Oh and she’s also the international face of fashion brand Hoss Intropia. Where does she find the time?
Let the record reflect that we said it first: watch this girl, she is going places…
Dominique Pinon (Jean Baptiste Poquelin)
One of France’s leading character actors, he was cast in Morris by having the misfortune to, totally by chance, bump into the film’s writer in Berwick Street’s market in Soho. Upon hearing the immortal words, “Monsieur Pinon, I’m a fan,” frankly, he should have done a runner. However, thankfully, he didn’t and turns in a fantastic performance, lending Morris some much needed Gallic surrealism.
Best known for his role in Delicatessen, he has acted in some of the finest French films of the last twenty years such as Amelie, A Very Long Engagement and Betty Blue.
Sophie Thompson (Glenda)
Sophie, thrilled to have finally been offered a role that didn’t involve wearing a bonnet, embraced her role in Morris with verve and aplomb and even went so far as doing her own stunts in the butcher’s shop scenes, cutting short a sound boom man’s promising career.
Recently she has had audiences in other kinds of stitches at the Adelphi theatre in the West End alongside Dame Eileen Atkins in The Female of the Species. All jokes of bonnets aside, however, Sophie is one of this country’s most talented film actresses as her stunning performances in Sense and Sensibility, Gosford Park and Emma bear testament to.
Richard Lumsden (Plush Gurney)
“No lycra, no suspenders and I’m in.”
With those words, Richard was a part of Morris. Clearly having been scarred by appearances in his own one man show, The Fall and Rise of Lenny Smallman and in The Catherine Tate Show where he was forced to dress in clothes against his will, Mr Lumsden revelled in the looser and indubitably male vestments that Morris allowed him to wear.
When not also writing the music for the film, Richard has been otherwise engaged in films such as Sense and Sensibility and telly series such as Sugar Rush and the incomparable Wonderful You which he co-wrote and which was inexplicably cancelled by ITV after its first series. And they wonder why their share price has gone down!.
Aidan McArdle (The Producer)
Aidan is very much cut from the same superb theatrical cloth as Ian Hart and Dominique Pinon. He’s just younger, that’s all.
Those of you who have been lucky enough to witness his work in the theatre such as in the stunning A Prayer for Owen Meany at The National Theatre, film (The Duchess) or television, most notably as an eerily accurate Dudley Moore alongside Rhys Ifan’s Peter Cook in Not Only But Always, will agree that he, like many in Morris, is a national treasure in the making.
Harriet Walter (Professor Compton Chamberlayne)
Another one who wanted to dance the mad dance and another one to whom we had to say, “you want to caper during the Abinger Hammer, you talk to the underwriters and sort it out.”
Luckily for us, Ms Walter put her aspirations towards all things Morris to one side and settled for the role of a Cambridge academic instead. At which, by common consent she excelled. A stalwart of the RSC for many years, she has most recently been seen on the big screen in Onegin, Bright Young Things and Atonement.
Lucy Akhurst (Director)
Your mission: to ensure that a group of overweight actors, of wildly varying ability, not only dance in time but also turn in good performances as well…
Watching the men of Millsham Morris on their first day of dance rehearsal and any sane human would have been forgiven for wanting to run a mile. However, it is a tribute to Lucy’s skill as a director that this and many other seemingly impossible tasks were completed on Morris with a minimum of fuss and a maximum of fun.
Loved by cast and crew alike, she brought a much needed sense of calm professionalism to the film world at the same time as making her days (when the weather wasn’t playing silly buggers) and bringing the whole project in under budget. However, her talents do not end there. Oh no, Sir! An actor of some twenty years experience she has appeared regularly on stage, tv and film. Highlights include Spaced, Eroica, The Saint, The Land Girls, Trinity, Monarch Of The Glen, Preston Front, Wonderful You, Longitude and the 2006 Academy Award nominated Don’t Tell. Morris is her first feature as Director.
Roger Chapman (Director of Photography)
During the filming of Morris, Roger became an avid weather watcher along with the Director and most of the cast and crew, as they battled to recreate an idyllic English summer in one of the wettest on record. Unflappable and unerringly polite under even the most testing of circumstances, he only once resorted to wearing a jumper, an act that sent paroxysms of fear throughout the entire crew.
Roger also happens to be an artist in the truest sense of the word and when you watch even the opening scenes of the film, you will find it hard to believe that this is his first film as a DP. When not schlepping all over the south west trying to capture the magic that is The Morris Dance, Roger has also been known to moonlight as a world class documentary cameraman with credits that include Geisha, The Last Voyage Of Columbus, The Genius Of Mozart and Adolf Eichmann.
Visit the Morris: A Life with Bells On website – see the trailer and find out about the press
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A bit of History about Morris Dancing (from Morris: A Life with Bells On website)