Mr. Turner: Director Mike Leigh on Workshopping History

Mr Turner


CraveOnline: Are there other artists whose work intrigues you enough to make a movie about them?

Mike Leigh: I don’t think so. 

You think you’re done with it now?

Done with that, yeah. I mean, I didn’t think, “Oh, I want to make a film about an artist. Which artist shall I make a film about?” It was Turner specifically that seemed like a good idea really.

What intrigues you now? What are you interested in, dramatically?

Oh, all sorts of things. I can’t talk about them. [Laughs.]


“There are some films of mine [which] astonish me because we actually got them made at all. ‘Vera Drake’ is one of them. I mean, how the bloody hell did we do that?”


That would give the game away.

Apart from anything else, just to give you some answer to that, I haven’t made a single film, and you’ve seen quite a lot of them, which is about one thing. I mean, all my films are about a whole bunch of different things, and in some ways, they all carry on being about the same things, which is to say life and death and relationships and parents and children and all sorts of stuff. Work. So I have ongoing preoccupations which will no doubt surface in the next film, but whatever the next film is, and we are going to make one the year after next. You can be sure that it won’t just be about one thing, any more than any of the other ones have been. 

You said that you like your movies, which is nice. You’ve said that enjoy your own films.


I think it would be ludicrous to ask if there’s a favorite, but are certain films that are particularly special to you?

Yeah, of course. Bleak Moments, which have you seen Bleak Moments?

Actually, I haven’t seen that one.

But it is special because it is the first film, but well, there are some films of mine, of ours, which astonish me because we actually got them made at all. Vera Drake is one of them. I mean, how the bloody hell did we do that? I think probably Mr. Turner will qualify in this department as well. There are some films which I… You see, the point is this: One doesn’t make films by oneself. It’s a collaborative thing. With all these films, not least Mr. Turner, the massive amount of work and invention and insight and talent that have gone into the work on all sorts of levels is fantastic. For me, it’s a massive joy and indeed a privilege to work with all these guys that make this stuff up. 


William Bibbiani is the editor of CraveOnline’s Film Channel and the host of The B-Movies Podcast and The Blue Movies Podcast. Follow him on Twitter at @WilliamBibbiani.