The Phantom of the Open premiere: On the red carpet with Mark Rylance, Craig Roberts and Simon Farnaby at London Film Festival 2021
The Phantom of the Open is the new feel-good British comedy-drama from actor-turned-director Craig Roberts. The film follows the true story of Maurice Flitcroft who earned himself the title of the “world’s worst golfer” and has been adapted by Simon Farnaby from his biographical book about the man’s exploits. A crane operator by trade, Flitcroft had dreams of becoming a golfer and to his delight (but less so the golfing community’s) ended up competing in the British Open in the 70s. Not only does it tap into the British love of an underdog story, as celebrated in the classic of the genre, The Full Monty, it also stars a wealth of British talent, including screen and stage legend Mark Rylance as Flitcroft, Rhys Ifans and national treasure Sally Hawkins, who is reunited with Roberts having previously worked with him on Eternal Beauty.
The Upcoming had the pleasure of speaking with the director and cast on the red carpet at the BFI London Film Festival 2021 for the world premiere.
Rylance told us why he wanted to bring the true story of Flitcroft to the big screen, what it was like working with Roberts and Hawkins and why he thinks such stories appeal to us so much: “I think we love underdogs here… something about people whose backs are against the wall but defiantly refuse to be subdued, as does Maurice. I think that’s a good characteristic, something very English.”
Roberts then spoke about the making of the movie, how he assembled and worked with his magnificent cast, and what he loved about Flitcroft’s story: “What drew me to it was the character really. I just felt like I knew him, he felt like a family member, like somebody that I’d grown up with. And how much of a flipping renegade he was! He just wouldn’t take no for an answer.”
Farnaby shared his insights on adapting the story for the screen from his biography, and what he thinks people will take away from watching the film: “I hope it’s that we understand that we’re all losers in some ways. We can all think we’re winners but we also lose in the end – I mean we all die. Which is quite profound! But what’s lovely is [Flitcroft] said, ‘Why don’t we celebrate losing? For every one winner, that’s 149 losers, so what about those people? They’re as valid as anyone.'”
We also heard from Jonah and Christian Lees about playing twins in the film and why they think people should go and see it.
Jake Davies told us about playing Maurice’s eldest son Mike Flitcroft and why now is the perfect time for a feel-good movie.
Ash Tenden also told us about his character in on The Phantom of the Open and what it was like working with Craig Roberts and his fellow cast.
Videos: Marta Starczynowska
The Phantom of the Open is released nationwide on 15th April 2022. Read our review here.
Read more reviews and interviews from our London Film Festival 2021 coverage here.
For further information about the festival visit the official BFI website here.
Watch the trailer for The Phantom of the Open here: