Fresh from a tumultuous Venice and a Madison Garden gig in between, Harry Styles was back on the festival circuit this weekend for the Toronto world premiere of Michael Grandage. My policeman.
Adapted from the late 1950s novel by Bethan Roberts, Styles plays a young police officer who embarks on a forbidden and then illegal relationship with a male art gallery curator (David Dawson) while asking a local teacher ( Emma Corrin) her hand in marriage. .
Linus Roache, Rupert Everett and Gina McKee also appear in the cast as older versions of the three characters, 40 years later when laws and attitudes regarding homosexuality changed and evolved.
The press conference for the film, whose world premieres took place on Sunday evening, was quieter than Styles’ previous tumultuous outing in Venice for Oliver Wilde. Don’t worry honey.
Beyond reports of a falling out between Wilde and co-star Florence Pugh, there was also a media outcry over footage that appeared to show Styles spitting on fellow cast member Chris Pine while sat down for the premiere. Both actors denied the reports.
None of this was discussed in the controlled environment of the my policeman Toronto press conference, at which questions were submitted and discussed in advance.
The actor was able to speak at length – alongside the rest of the cast – about his reasons for taking on the role and his hopes for the film at the Toronto launches. A key draw had been his character’s timeless quality and genuine complexity, he said.
“The overall themes are incredibly timeless. I think that’s why the film does so well. The themes of love and freedom and the pursuit of that are incredibly relevant no matter when you want to set them up,” he said.
“Then, for me, a big benefit was that people could see a part of themselves in each of the characters. The most beautiful thing about the story is that all the characters have very beautiful qualities and they have also flaws that we might hope we didn’t have, but as humans we all have them.
Grandage said he was drawn to the book for the way it showed how attitudes towards homosexuality had changed over the past 60 years, at a time when acceptance of non-heterosexual sexual orientations felt “an little fragile”.
“The world we find ourselves in now is very different from the one depicted in the film in 1957. Although for the first time in my life, I think it’s a bit fragile right now and that’s partly what that drew me to this film. movie,” he continued.
“Film is many things but it’s great when a film can be part of a debate and certainly my policeman can be part of the debate that is going on right now.”