“It’s a bit of a secret but I have been signed up for quite a big role in a very, very big franchise…”
Sean Cronin is an old hand in the world of films and the actor-turned-director has a very intriguing and inspirational biopic coming up about legendary disabled writer and football fan, Paul Hodgson. The former Bond villain will be directing the feature film, GIVE THEM WINGS.
Paul contracted childhood meningitis in 1965 when he was a few months old and he was unable to move or speak until he was 11-years-old. Refusing to be a victim of the disease, Paul fought back and did not allow himself to succumb to anguish or self-pity, as he battled against the odds. He has written several books and the hugely popular ‘Flipper’s Side’ tells his life story.
“Experts told him that he would never be able to move or speak,” informed Sean as he spoke enthusiastically about the film role via telephone before picking his child up from school, “…but he forced himself to overcome it all – he mentally pushed himself to conquer this and he is one of those guys who has got an amazing sense of humour. He said to me, “I can’t really move mate, but I can hold a pint.” He’s just a really funny and lovely guy.”
GIVE THEM WINGS is not the first time that the talented writer, Paul has scripted a film or even produced one: “He asked me to direct a true story called AN UNFORTUNATE WOMAN which is a short film – a true story – about Kathleen Mumford, who smothered her child in 1938 because it had cerebral palsy and they put her in an institution. Paul and I made a beautiful short film with the same name and it’s won seven awards worldwide now and this was written and produced by Paul – he is just so prolific.” He continues, “This film, GIVE THEM WINGS is a beautiful story of how a guy lost his mother to a stroke and died. He has had his own personal health battles to overcome and he has fought his way back to become such an amazing writer and film producer and I feel really honoured to have been asked to direct it.”
It is clear that 50-year-old Sean has developed a significant bond towards the subject of his movie and his respect for the man is always at the forefront of his mind. “He heard that I was a cinematographer and director, so he came to London and we met up, we really clicked. He is just such a funny guy. Despite what he has been through, you’d expect him to have a chip on his shoulder and be bitter about the cards he was dealt, but he isn’t. He has this incredibly, sunny aura about him and a slightly naughty sense of humour!”
The film will be shot in Darlington, where Paul was born and grew up, which looks set to go into production by February or March 2015. “Paul will be on set every single day when the production starts, as he is very, very hands on. He has trouble speaking and stammers, but when he is able to say it, it is always a stream of real intellectual consciousness and it will be great to have him involved. Well it’s his story so he will want to be very active with it. When he wrote the script, he did so using one finger, bless his heart.”
With a stream of impressive acting and directing credentials behind him and certainly ahead of him, taking on the role of filmmaker for GIVE THEM WINGS was a no brainer for the Londoner. “I came on board with directing it because it so compassionate and in reality, he shouldn’t be able to do all the things he does. Paul is such a charming individual and I really wanted to tell the story. It’s the kind of film that is going to win hearts. I love action films and fantasy adventures, but there is nothing like a real gritty, true story that will make people laugh and cry when they see it.”
Sean is best known for playing villains in some of Hollywood’s biggest blockbusters including JAMES BOND, HARRY POTTER and THE MUMMY and the actor-turned-director revealed he will be adding another villainous role to his already very impressive credentials: “It’s a bit of a secret but I have been signed up for quite a big role in a very, very big franchise and I’m unfortunately not allowed to say what it is yet. I can’t, but it’s one of the biggest in the world, so I am doing that for a few weeks. In this franchise I play a German millionaire super villain. I really wish I could say what it is, but I’m not allowed because it’s so huge…”
Wanting to share the news was bittersweet for the Bond baddie; excitement for the role was hampered by the need to keep it a secret, but he is never surprised to reprise roles as the miscreant, “I love acting, but with the way I look and with the scar near my eye, I always seem to end up playing the villains – I am never going to get the lead in a rom-com! It’s fine though, I really enjoy it, but directing for me is a much higher calling, as you are controlling the whole thing, you’re making a vision a reality and it’s very hands on, so I find it very rewarding.”
Next in the pipeline is the feature film IRONGATE, which is loosely based on the Armstrong family who made the first telescopic canon for the navy in the Crimean War, which will be his second feature. He concludes, “In this business you can’t really make a film until you have made a film, so the idea of doing all the commercials and short films is to win awards and hopefully get recognised as a director and then it gets easier to make films.”
With lots of exciting projects ahead, we will keep you informed about that secretive, villainous new role in one of the world’s biggest franchises when all is officially allowed to be revealed.