Latest movie trailers, behind the scenes video features and more
THE LIFE AND DEATH
OF PETER SELLERS
UK: Icon Film Distribution
Cast: Geoffrey Rush, Charlize Theron, Emily Watson, John Lithgow, Miriam Margolyes, Peter Vaughan, Sonia Aquino, Stanley Tucci, Stephen Fry, Henry Goodman, Alison Steadman, Peter Gevisser, David Robb, Edward Tudor-Pole, Steve Pemberton, Nigel Havers, Mackenzie Crook, George Cicco, James Bentley, Eliza Darby, Lance Ellington, Lucy Punch, Heidi Klum, Nick Maloney, Jane Milligan, Joseph Long, Robert Sherman, Sam Dastor, Mona Hammond, Alan Williams, Grant Russell, Julian Littman, Tope Oluwole, Kate Burrell, Rosie Fellner, In-Sook Chappell, Tom Wu, Kenneth Hadley, Robert Wilfort, Ty Glaser, Molly Hallam, Richard Ayoade, Simon Markey, Martin McDougall, Bruce Mackinnon, Josh Cole, Richard Syms, Osmund Bullock, Markus Napier, Kennie Andrews, Vera Zaal, Tiara Tian, Charlotte Connoley, Stephanie Jacob
Director: Stephen Hopkins
Countries: USA / UK
UK: 122 mins
UK Certificate: 15 contains strong language and drug use
UK Release Date: 1 October 2004
THE LIFE AND DEATH OF PETER SELLERS is an intimate look at one of the world's most prolific and gifted comedic actors, whose brilliant, idiosyncratic gift for mimicry and invention made him an international cultural icon. With Stephen Hopkins directing a tour de force performance by Academy Award winner Geoffrey Rush, the film is a kaleidoscopic and genre breaking journey through the life of Sellers, exploring his comedic genius and personal torment.
The film uses Sellers' uncanny ability to adopt personalities as a way to explore the actor's inability to come to terms with his own. Sellers' comic masks serve as windows to his inner life, his perpetual transformations revealing both his unquenchable need for love and the difficulty he had in returning it.
It's 1957 London and BBC Radio's young audiences are electrified by the zany antics of "The Goons," a troop of comedic anarchists with a flare for the absurd. One of the creative geniuses behind the group is Peter Sellers (Geoffrey Rush), a frustrated actor anxious to break into film. Goaded by his manipulative and overly possessive mother, Peg (Miriam Margoyles) into taking a more aggressive approach to his career, Peter uses creative deception to land his first film role, which, in turn, garners him the British Film Academy Award.
Sellers has "arrived" and is eventually cast opposite the Italian bombshell, Sophia Loren, (Sonia Aquino) with whom he falls hopelessly in love, only to be rejected by the happily married actress. His distorted affection for Loren causes a rift in his marriage to Anne (Emily Watson) and his willingness to discard her and their two children sends her into the arms of another man.
Battling depression and loneliness, Sellers consults Maurice Woodruff (Stephen Fry), fortune teller to the stars. He not only predicts Seller's relationships with beautiful women, but also guides him toward certain movie projects, while he secretly takes monetary incentives from the studios looking to sway Sellers.
Successful director Blake Edwards (John Lithgow) wants Sellers for a supporting role in THE PINK PANTHER starring David Niven. But it is Sellers dazzling characterization of Inspector Clouseau that steals the show. Despite its overwhelming reception and critical acclaim, Sellers hates his performance.
Sellers is saddened to learn of his father's (Peter Vaughan) hospitalization and imminent death and somewhat incredulous that his mother waited so long to notify him, assuming he was "too busy with his career."
Director Stanley Kubrick (Stanley Tucci) taps Sellers to take on the multiple lead roles in DR. STRANGELOVE, which leads to his first Academy Award nomination. When he fails to win the Oscar, a depressed Sellers visits Maurice, who attempts to steer him into accepting Blake Edward's offer for a PINK PANTHER sequel by predicting that his true happiness will be with someone with the initials "B.E.".
When Sellers reads that the beautiful Swedish actress Britt Ekland (Charlize Theron) is arriving in London, he mistakes this for Maurice's prediction and sets out to woo her. After a three week courtship, they marry. Several weeks after the wedding, Sellers suffers a near fatal heart attack in which his heart stopped. Determined to find happiness with Britt and in his career, Sellers vows to give up the zany characters and to become a serious actor. His attempt to play it straight with the James Bond-type character in CASINO ROYALE is a fiasco and he walks off the set.
Sellers races to the hospital with Britt who is in labour with their first child and unceremoniously dumps her in a wheelchair and turns her over to the nurses. His parenting skills are further tested on the set of AFTER THE FOX, when he throws Britt off the set because their baby is crying.
When Peg dies, Sellers takes his grief out on Britt and, following a nasty fight, Britt takes the baby and leaves him to battle depression and career anxiety.
Blake Edwards offers Sellers THE RETURN OF THE PINK PANTHER, which he agrees to do following a seance that Maurice arranges to communicate with Peg. The film is a hit and in his typical, self-loathing way, Sellers humiliates Edwards at the premiere. He retreats to his chalet in Switzerland where he wallows in memories of his personal and professional past.
Desperate to make a fresh start, Sellers burns his prized possessions in a symbolically purifying fire. Obsessed with the book "Being There," and passionate about turning into a movie, he eventually gets to make the film. Who he was as a man and who he was as a performer is crystallized in the role of Chance the Gardner, which leads to another Oscar nomination.
Blake Edwards convinces Sellers to meet him at a restaurant in Switzerland to discuss yet another PINK PANTHER sequel. When the director sees a motionless, catatonic-like Sellers standing outside under a lamppost, covered in snow, he knows that will never happen.