Actress Billie Piper makes her directorial debut with Rare Beasts, which has its world premiere at Venice’s Critics’ Week on August 31.
Rare Beasts – described as a pitch black comedy or ‘anti-rom-com’ – follows Mandy (Piper), a modern woman and single mother still dealing with the separation of her parents (David Thewlis and Kerry Fox). She falls in love with a complicated man Pete (Leo Bill). Piper also wrote the original script. Vaughan Sivell produces for Western Edge Pictures, in association with Ffilm Cymru Wales, Moffen Media, Fields Park and 42.
Piper is a former singer who has starred in TV hits including Doctor Who, The Secret Diary Of A Call Girl and Penny Dreadful. In 2017, she won an Olivier Award for best actress for her role in the Young Vic’s stage production of Garcia Lorca’s Yerma.
How long did you know you wanted to direct?
If I’m honest I’ve always loved writing and I really danced with the idea of becoming a writer since I was very young. I got my teeth stuck into writing this story. I needed a bit of pushing with the idea of directing – I’m fascinated by directors’ work. I’m a massive film buff, I’ve studied a lot of films. But I needed somebody to say do it, basically, and someone did – my friend [director] Wayne Yip. It made more sense to do it as a writer/director rather than a director for hire. I don’t know that I could direct someone else’s writing.
Billie Piper (Doctor Who) is to lead cast on Sky original drama I Hate Suzie.
Written by Emmy-nominee Lucy Prebble (Succession) and co-created by Piper, the series is being produced by His Dark Materials outfit Bad Wolf.
The eight-part series is described by Sky as a “bracing, funny drama about the moment in life when the mask slips”. Piper will play Suzie Pickles, a star on the wane, who has her whole life upended when her phone is hacked and a photo of her emerges in an extremely compromising position. It is due to air on Sky Atlantic and NOW TV in 2020.
The show was commissioned by Zai Bennett, Managing Director of Content at Sky and Cameron Roach, Director of Drama, Sky Studios. Liz Lewin is the commissioning editor for Sky and the series is co-created and executive produced by Prebble and Piper. Julie Gardner is executive producer and Andrea Dewsbery is producing, both for Bad Wolf. Sky Vision will handle the international distribution.
Prebble and Piper previously teamed up on hit ITV show Secret Diary Of A Call Girl.
Piper said, “It’s taken years to finally get Lucy, my long-term GF and favourite writer in London – to work with me again. We feel we’ve created something timely and not for the faint-hearted. If you too suffer with anxiety, shame, compulsive lying but like a laugh, please tune in at some point.”
Rare Beasts, the directorial debut of British stage and screen actress Billie Piper is set to premiere at the Venice Film Festival’s Critics’ Week, which has unveiled its lineup of nine first works, four of them from female filmmakers.
Produced by Vaughan Sivell of Western Edge Pictures in association with Moffen Media Limited, “Rare Beasts” is “a completely unhinged comedy,” section chief Giona Nazzaro said.
Piper plays Mandy, a struggling young writer and mother who comes from a dysfunctional family and falls upon a troubled man played by Leo Bill (Peterloo). The high-caliber cast of Brits also includes Lily James (Downton Abbey) and David Thewlis, best known as Remus Lupin in the Harry Potter film series.