Sexy Beast

UK/Spain/USA 2000, 88mins
Director: Jonathan Glazer

Contains strong violence.

If Scum’s Carlin made it to adulthood, he might have resembled Gal, an ex-con enjoying life in the south of Spain. But the arrival of terrifying gang enforcer Don Logan disrupts Gal’s languorous, sun-kissed existence. Commercials and music video director Jonathan Glazer parodies masculine bravado with glee, while Winstone and Kingsley turn in career-best performances.

Jonathan Glazer on ‘Sexy Beast’
Why did you want to make Sexy Beast ?

The work of writers Louis Mellis and David Scinto had a flavour that spoke to me. I was seduced by their dialogue and we planned to do Gangster No.1 together four years ago, before this whole spate of gangster films. The script they developed and wrote was quite extraordinary, then because of various political shenanigans we all removed ourselves from the project. But I stayed with the writers and they wrote Sexy Beast. The character of Don Logan was the hook of the film – he’s funny and tragic and puritanical, like a parking attendant putting a ticket on a windscreen. He’s that officious little worm and Ben Kingsley plays him very well.

Was there anything about feature filmmaking that took you by surprise?

All of it, but sustaining performance in particular. I wasn’t prepared for the marathon. And I wasn’t prepared for having Kingsley and Ray Winstone coming up to me saying, ‘What do we do now?’ Or for realising that I’d given a bum steer sometimes. This whole film is a head to head between the two actors and you could really kill yourself in an edit suite if you end up with the wrong kind of performance. Also there was the speed of it, the amount I had to get through – I had reams of dialogue.

Is there a scene you’re particularly fond of?

Ben Kingsley is like a child - an emotionally-repressed, puritanical, seven-year-old bully. He’s been forced to leave Spain because the others know something about him he can’t bear. So he gets on the plane but he really needs an excuse to come back and he finds it in refusing to put out his cigarette. He’s then held by the officials and he twists the whole argument around and gives a very funny monologue about how he was sexually assaulted and had his front bottom touched.

There are scenes of dialogue that must have looked very strange on the page. Where Ray Winstone is trying not to do the job and Ben Kingsley is trying to make him and Kingsley is just shouting: ‘Do it! Do it! Do it! Yes! Yes! Yes!’ How do you direct a scene like that?

There’s a lot of rapid-fire dialogue and I enjoyed how barren it was. You have to make sure both actors understand that the script is specific in how it deals musically with words and if the actors put in one little word or ad-lib because they’re feeling confident then the whole scene will fall to bits.

Unlike most other first-feature directors at the moment you don’t use much handheld.

I don’t do it when it’s at odds with the subject matter. In Sexy Beast everything dances. The words are doing so much that I made a conscious decision to put some of what I enjoy in my back pocket and be really architectural – be as still as I could. And I love composition – the craft of composition informs the audience as it might in a painting.

Was the move from the unknowns in your ads to well-known actors a financial decision or did you want those particular players?

I looked at total unknowns and at famous people – I didn’t really care as long as they were right. We always thought Ray Winstone was right for Gary Dove, but the most difficult role to cast was Ben Kingsley’s. He’s the last person in the world I would have thought of but he brought a tragic comedy to it – he makes obscenity sound like Shakespeare. We had Ray for Gary and we were looking for his opposite number. Physicality is very important to me – I knew I couldn’t go bigger than Ray Winstone to get the sense of physical conflict I needed so I’d have to go smaller. I knew Ben Kingsley wanted to do the part but I’d resisted seeing him because I didn’t think he had that in him. He’d always played sanctimonious, careful, liberal characters – but when he walked in I knew straight away that he was right. Even though his performance is like nothing he’s done before, it’s still very much him.

What was the most difficult thing?

It’s hard to say. Ben Kingsley was on a William Friedkin movie until two weeks into our eight-week shoot with legal letters going back and forth to the US all the time so I had to shoot scenes I hadn’t planned to shoot to begin with. It was a baptism of fire. But in a way it worked out well because by the time he came on set the other actors had bonded – they were playing friends in Spain and they had become friends in Spain and they were all dreading Ben Kingsley turning up the way their characters dreaded Don Logan’s arrival. He literally walked in on them having barbecues and running on the beach. When he arrived we did a scene at the airport and then he shook hands with a couple of people and at lunchtime he sat at the end of the bench with his newspaper up. That was the way he worked for the first two weeks. He detached himself from everything so when we did the first scene where all five of them are together it was weird. They were scared of him and apprehensive of what he was going to deliver.
Interview with Jonathan Glazer by Nick James, Sight and Sound, January 2001

Director: Paul Chambers
UK 2022
12 mins

Director: Jonathan Glazer
©: Sexy RPC Limited
©/Presented in association with: KanZaman S.A.
©/Presented by: FilmFour Limited
Presented by: Recorded Picture Company
Presented in association with: Fox Searchlight Pictures
Developed in association with: Chronopolis Films
Producer: Jeremy Thomas
Co-producer: Denise O’Dell
Associate Producers: Hercules Bellville, Peter Watson
Production Supervisor: Mark Albela
Production Accountants: Mar Henche, Pauline Brown
Location Manager (UK Unit): Rod Haak
Location Manager (Spanish Unit): Toni Novella
Post-production (Supervisor): Mike Saxton
1st Assistant Director: Kieron Phipps
Script Supervisor: Jane Fryers
Casting: Lucy Boulting
Written by: Louis Mellis, David Scinto
Director of Photography: Ivan Bird
Underwater Cameraman (Underwater Unit): Mike Valentine
Camera Operator: Ian Foster
Effects: The Computer Film Company
Editor: John Scott, Sam Sneade
Assistant Editor: Alexander Soskin
Production Designer: Jan Houllevigue
Art Directors (UK Unit): Steve Simmonds, Marcus Wookey, James Alexander Hamilton
Art Directors (Spanish Unit): Carlos Suárez Bodelón
Set Decorator: Jane Cooke
Costume Designer: Louise Stjernsward
Make-up/Hair (Designers): Eusebio Márquez Lebreros, Michele Baylis
Special Effects Make-up: Dream Factory
Titles: General Screen Enterprises
Colour Grader: Mike Stainer
Original Music Written and Recorded by: Roque Baños
Additional Music: UNKLE, South
Guitar Soloist: José Maria Gallardo del Rey
Boom Operator: Sara Fijo
Dubbing Mixer: Tim Alban
Supervising Sound Editor: Jeremy Price
Dialogue Editor: Hilary Wyatt, Rory Farnan
Stunt Co-ordinator (Spanish Unit): Miguel Pedregosa
Spanish Unit Horse Master: Luis Miguel Arranz
With Thanks to: Howard Shore
Dedicated to: Cavan Kendall
Armourer (UK Crew): Gregg Pearson
Armourers: Armería Roasa, Perdix Firearms
Studio: Three Mills Island Studio, Action Under Water Studios

Ray Winstone (Gary Dove, ‘Gal’)
Ben Kingsley (Don Logan)
Ian McShane (Teddy Bass)
Amanda Redman (DeeDee)
Cavan Kendall (Aitch)
Julianne White (Jackie)
Alvaro Monje (Enrique, the kid)
James Fox (Harry)
Robert Atiko (Andy)
Nieves del Amo Oruet (air hostess)
Enrique Alemán Fabrega (pilot)
Gérard Barray (Spanish official)
José Ma Cano Ramos (Felipe’s friend 1)
Desirée Erasmus (Jean)
Santiago Frías Muñoz (policia 2)
José Hernández (ginger’air steward)
Ana Maldonado Herrería (Maruja, matronly woman)
Andy Lucas (Jimmy)
José Lirola Ramos (policia 1)
José López Carrillo (Felipe’s friend 2)
QUESADA Márquez, Antonio Fco (steward 2)
Juan Manuel Martínez Cobos (policia 4)
Dionisio Mesa (Felipe)
Eddie O’Connell (Bruno)
Terry Plummer (Mike)
Manuel Sánchez Berlanga (man on plane)
Frank Scinto (Pete)
Darkie Smith (Stan)
Rocky Taylor (Raymond)
Chris Webb (Nicky)
Pedro Zamora Hernández (policia 3)

UK/Spain/USA 2000
88 mins

Sat 2 Sep 17:50; Fri 8 Sep 18:20
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Wed 6 Sep 20:50; Sat 9 Sep 20:55
Thu 7 Sep 18:10 (+ intro by season curator Nia Childs); Mon 18 Sep 20:45
Beautiful Thing
Sun 10 Sep 18:30; Fri 22 Sep 20:40
Dead Man’s Shoes + Q&A with Shane Meadows and Paddy Considine
Tue 12 Sep 18:10
Sweet Sixteen
Wed 13 Sep 18:00; Mon 25 Sep 20:40
Blue Story
Thu 14 Sep 18:15; Sat 23 Sep 20:40
My Beautiful Laundrette
Wed 20 Sep 18:10; Thu 28 Sep 20:30
Muscle + Q&A with director Gerard Johnson, actors Craig Fairbrass, Cavan Clerkin and Polly Maberly
Fri 22 Sep 18:00
Sexy Beast
Sat 23 Sep 18:20; Mon 2 Oct 20:30
Mona Lisa
Sun 24 Sep 18:20; Fri 29 Sep 20:30
Govan Ghost Story
Mon 25 Sep 18:30
The Football Factory + intro by Danny Dyer
Mon 25 Sep 20:45

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