film star at last!

Well, not quite! But mixing with the stars!

In the summer of 2011 I received an unexpected email asking if I was interested in the part of "Bill" in a film, to be directed by Dustin Hoffman, called "Quartet".
Apparently, it was to be Dustin's first time as director and he had specified that he wanted professional musicians and singers on the cast rather than actors miming.

My first reaction to this unexpected contact was "who's pulling my leg" but in a couple of days two young ladies came to my house armed with a video camera.
I did a bit of speaking and then played a few notes on my violin, not very successfully because the violin had been officially locked away as I had declared myself "retired" earlier in the year.
However, to my astonishment, a few days later I received a message to the effect that I had got the part.
Dustin's comments were that I fitted the bill (pun!) perfectly except that I looked "too young, but make-up would take care of that"!

So ensued a crash course in violin playing skills revival - actually quite a pleasurable pursuit!
Then started, with audio recordings in August 2011 and filming in September 2011, an experience I wouldn't have missed for the world.
It proved a real challenge to "fiddle" once again but was thoroughly enjoyable to work at string quartets with old colleagues; Ita Herbert (1938-2016), violin, Graeme Scott, viola and John Heley, cello
It also offered the opportunity to meet some celebrated "stars". And nice folk they were too, by and large. A wonderful few weeks!

The filming took place at Hedsor House, Bucks, a splendid building next door to Clivedon. Here is some of the story in pictures....

  Residential home name plate Hedsor House & Gardens Hedsor House, Bucks Monica photographs name In "Bill's" trailer  

click on photos
to enlarge

click on photos
to enlarge
    Monica "shoots" John John's "Hitchcock" profile Lots of waiting around    
  Cellist John Heley expounds String Quartet poses Ita Herbert, 2nd violin After make-up with Graeme Graeme Scott, viola (right)  
  Billy Connolly with the quartet John tells Billy a joke Billy returns favour John & Michael Gambon Michael with Ita & Graeme  
  Tom Courtney talks music Kle Savidge, music supervisor "Quartet" flyer String Quartet in gazebo with Dustin Hoffman