Earlier this year, in an interview with The Daily Record, James McAvoy hinted at a tantalizing potential project on the horizon saying, “I’m looking at a part soon, like the second half of this year, that is quite extreme I mean, quite full on mental.” While the actor is currently shooting the crime drama “Welcome to the Punch,” the premise of that film — about a London detective whose old nemesis, an armed robber, reappears after five years away — doesn’t sound “quite extreme” or “full on mental.” However, one project that has been floating with his name attached is an adaptation of Irvine Welsh‘s “Filth” and it now seems the long-gestating project is coming together.
The book is right in the usual Welsh wheelhouse, both lurid and darkly hilarious, as it follows the adventures of Bruce Robertson, a sex-obsessed, cocaine-addicted, bigoted Scottish police officer who is supposed to be investigating a murder but gets sidetracked by his own peculiarities, worries and hangups ranging from the pranks he pulls on his co-workers to his various sexual conquests. Looking in on Robertson is partner-of-sorts, Ray Lennox, and his boss, Bob Toal, in a story that is as outrageous, inventive and edgy as you might expect from Welsh and it has lined up a solid cast.
Today we spoke with the author about a film version of another one of his books, “Ecstasy” (more on that in a moment), and during our conversation he confirmed that not only is McAvoy on board for “Filth,” but that he’ll be joined by Jamie Bell and Alan Cumming, with filming to kick off in January 2012. “That’s going to be the main cast,” he told us adding, “James is going to be main character, Jamie is going to be Lennox his kind of sidekick and Alan is going to be Toal, his boss.”
Welsh is on board as a producer, with Brit helmer and friend Jon S. Baird behind the camera, who had impressed the author with his debut feature film. “Jon did a biopic of Cass Pennant, a film called ‘Cass,’ which was well received in the U.K…It was compared favourably by some of the critics to ‘This Is England.’ It was the same kind of style and really kind of a beautiful little film,” Welsh explained about how Baird came on board.
“Jon and I hit it off and became good friends. He’s worked really, really hard on it. I’ve been trying to that made with different producers and [with] different directors attached and different cast attached for years and years. He did a revised screenplay which was absolutely brilliant,” Welsh elaborated on the film’s development. “I think Jon’s definitely done something really sort of magic. He’s captured and he’s kept the essence of the main protagonist but he’s done a lot of interesting things with it as well. He’s kind of rendered very, very cinematic and I think it’s a great script and it’s going to make a great film with that cast attached.”
It’s hard to argue with that. Our big question is how the monologue by the protagonist’s tapeworm (yes, no joke) will be handled and if the film will stick with the wickedly black-as-night ending to the novel. Either way, McAvoy was not kidding around when he alluded to the project, and it’s certainly not like anything he’s done before. More to come next week including our exclusive trailer premiere for “Ecstasy,” with more from Welsh and the film’s director, Rob Heydon.