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Joe Strummer Biopic 'Joe Public' In The Works From 'Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll' Writer

by Oliver Lyttelton
November 16, 2010 3:00 AM
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We've written at length about our love for seminal punk band The Clash, but to reiterate: if they weren't the greatest rock and roll band in history, they're in the top five. Burning relatively briefly, but utterly gloriously, they show up other British punk bands of the period, like The Sex Pistols, as the charlatans they were. Frontman Joe Strummer was one of the greats too, going on to a terrific solo career, as well as consistently interesting film work with the likes of Jim Jarmusch, Alex Cox and Aki Kaurismaki.

Since his far-too-early death in 2002, Strummer's already been commemorated in a pair of documentaries, Julien Temple's exemplary "Joe Strummer: The Future is Unwritten" and Don Letts' "Strummerville," the latter of which premiered at SXSW this year, and mostly focuses on the titular charity set up after the singer's passing. However, it looks like that isn't enough, as word's come in that a feature biopic is in the works.

Screen Daily broke the news that British company Film4 are working on a Strummer biopic with the working title of "Joe Public." The bad news, however, is that writer Paul Viragh, who was behind the Ian Dury biopic "Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll" is the man who's been hired to write the screenplay. While it featured an excellent central performance from Andy Serkis, none of us on staff who were unfortunate enough to catch the film could find many good things to say about it otherwise, particularly in regards to the film's maddening, ADD structure.

To be fair that wasn't necessarily Viragh's fault: we suspect that director Mat Whitecross may have been equally to blame but it's still making us a little cautious about the Strummer project. There's no word on what aspect of Strummer's life it'll focus on; if we were writing the thing, we'd probably focus on Strummer's political involvement, particularly in regard to anti-racist movements: the singer's brother joined neo-Nazi movement The National Front as a teenager, before killing himself at twenty, while Strummer's reputation as a working class hero sometimes clashed uneasily with his middle-class background.

Damian Jones (the Ian Dury pic, "Millions") and Simon Halfon ("Sleuth") are producing, and there's no word on an intended start date: our suspicion is that this'll be in development for some time. While we're waiting, check out some vintage Strummer below.

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  • Anthony-Jerk Reaction | November 18, 2010 4:35 AMReply

    I loved "Let's Rock Again", and walked out of "The Future is Unwritten".

    I hate the idea of a Joe Strummer biopic. Too soon, people!

  • ingmar | November 18, 2010 4:03 AMReply

    Zac Efron as Joe Strummer!

  • Ian | November 17, 2010 3:58 AMReply

    Don't forget "Let's Rock Again", the doc made by the guy from Repo Man. For it's candid moments, that's probably my favorite of the lot.

  • Tim | November 17, 2010 2:44 AMReply

    This could be the best or worst thing to happen to Joe's legacy and huge contribution. I'm hoping for the best....but very very cautiously....

  • Marrrk | November 16, 2010 7:09 AMReply

    *vintage Mick Jones

    the saddest part of all is that Strummer's solo career, all the way up to his final album, was terrific. especially when compared to the dreck most rock stars put out after the age of 40. a goddamn shame indeed.

  • Edward Davis | November 16, 2010 4:47 AMReply

    This is mostly a bad idea because "Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll” was awful.

  • simon | November 16, 2010 3:44 AMReply

    Just not a good idea.

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