Past and present meet ‘Last Night in Soho’

VENICE (ITALY) -- Just a few hours are left before Edgar Wright's world premiere of " Last night in Soho" at the Venice Film Festival, and Wright is starting to get teary-eyed. He is telling a story about Diana Rigg. It's a great story, with Campari and soda as the last day that he saw her.

Past and present meet ‘Last Night in Soho’

VENICE (ITALY) -- Just a few hours are left before Edgar Wright's world premiere of " Last night in Soho" at the Venice Film Festival, and Wright is starting to get teary-eyed. He is telling a story about Diana Rigg. It's a great story, with Campari and soda as the last day that he saw her.

Many stories featuring Rigg include a Campari or soda supporting part.

It's , a story he told before and will tell again since she passed away at the age 82. It's been a long, difficult day, and Wright is acutely aware of the fact that this movie, which was a passion project for him for over 10 years now, cannot be separated from the surreal experience of working with a star that epitomized 1960s glamour as well as losing and beingfriended by her.

"Last Night in Soho," however, is a film that allows for reflection on past, present and fantasy. The story is stylized and depicts Eloise, a fashion designer in her twenties, who goes to London to study. She finds a place to rent in a Soho house and begins to have more realistic ideas about the period and Sandie (Anya Taylor Joy). It starts off as bubbly, champagne-colored fun but turns darker the further she goes. Friday's opening of the film is in theaters.

Wright stated that the movie was essentially about nostalgia. Wright stated that there is no magical decade in which everything was perfect. It is a fallacy to suggest such a thing.

Wright has been thinking about this exciting move for some time. He is known for his unique brand of referential humor and it's an exciting departure. After he had created the story and the soundtrack, he also kept a "phonebook" of interviews with people who lived, worked, and drank at Cafe De Paris in Soho over the years. He stared blankly at the page when he finally set his pen to writing.

Krysty Wilson Cairns, a screenwriter whom he had met on the night of Brexit and who used to work in Soho's Toucan pub, would be of assistance. They wrote for six weeks in a Soho rented office.

Wright stated that she originally imagined all the 1960s scenes as being silent. It was almost like they were musical set pieces. "Krysty said that she doesn't believe we can fall for Sandie unless we hear her speak. It was a wonderful change in the dynamics.

Wright originally imagined Taylor-Joy to be Eloise. Wright had told Taylor-Joy the same thing when he first met her in 2015. This was just as she was going through the indie horror film "The Witch." But as they began to develop Sandie, he realized it was for him.

Wright stated that it was like seeing her in other movies and just being able to see her on the red carpet. Wright said, "She almost looks like a silent movie star.

He was without an Eloise. McKenzie, 18 years old, was suggested by someone.

"This was definitely something I pursued. McKenzie stated that it wasn't offered to her during a Zoom call in New Zealand. "I was at a similar stage in mine... She is a young girl with big dreams, big hopes, and a little shy, but determined to prove herself. Then she made her way to the big cities and felt overwhelmed by everything that followed.

These parallels did not end there. She and her character were not the only ones to arrive in London at 18 years old. Her grandmother would also be played by Rita Tushingham who, when she was 18, had made "A Taste of Honey".

"I loved Ellie's relationship with her grandmother. My grandmother has been my family for my whole life. She's 94 now," McKenzie said. "In a sense, I made this film to honor her career."

McKenzie's grandmother was Kate Harcourt, an actor who was made a dame of New Zealand for her contributions in theater. The film's past and present were always discussed.

Wright also wrote a role for Terence Stamp, another big name of the era. This is a tribute to the actors Wright grew up with, as well as an acknowledgment that many stars from the past are still relevant and in demand today. He said that Rigg, Stamp, and Tushingham were not there to "tokenry" in "Soho". They were pivotal roles they wanted to play. These were only bonuses, such as the stories of Federico Fellini's work with William Wyler and Richard Lester's lunch date with Tushingham & Richard Lester.

He enjoyed the chance to pay tribute to and expose an age that was becoming a false novelty.

It's something I feel in dreams, but I don't see in movies. The idea of what if I went back and lived through someone else's eyes? He said, "You're there, and you're looking at it, but nothing can be done." Making a movie is similar to being on the therapist couch. You can't change the past. However, you can deal with the future. This is what the movie is trying to say. You cannot reverse the clock or change the past no matter how hard you try. It is important to confront it immediately.

Rigg was bedridden the last time he saw her to help him loop lines. After they finished their work, they drank Campari and soda and chatted for over an hour.

Wright was working alongside his editor when Rigg's death was announced -- just one year before the film's glamorous Venice premiere.

He said that "that day" and "we put the dedication at movie's beginning."

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