What Fresh Lunacy is This?: The Authorised Biography of Oliver Reed
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Oliver Reed may not have been Britain's biggest film star - for a period in the early 70s he came within a hairsbreadth of replacing Sean Connery as James Bond - but he is an august member of that small band of people, like George Best and Eric Morecambe, who transcended their chosen medium, became too big for it even, and grew into cultural icons. For the first time Reed's close family has agreed to collaborate on a project about the man himself. The result is a fascinating new insight into a man seen by many as merely a brawling, boozing hellraiser. And yet he was so much more than this. For behind that image, which all too often he played up to in public, was a vastly complex individual, a man of deep passions and loyalty but also deep-rooted vulnerability and insecurities. Why was a proud, patriotic, intelligent, successful and erudite man so obsessed about proving himself to others, time and time again? Although the Reed myth is of Homeric proportions, he remains a national treasure and somewhat peculiar icon. Praise for other books by Robert Sellers: Hellraisers: The Life and Inebriated Times of Richard Burton, Richard Harris, Peter O'Toole, and Oliver Reed: 'So wonderfully captures the wanton belligerence of both binging and stardom you almost feel the guys themselves are telling the tales.' GQ. Vic Armstrong: The True Adventures of the World's Greatest Stuntman: 'This is the best and most original behind-the-scenes book I have read in years, gripping and revealing.' Roger Lewis, Daily Mail. Don't Let the Bastards Grind You Down: '...a rollicking good read...Sellers has done well to capture a vivid snapshot of this exciting time.' Lynn Barber, Sunday Times.
was a fine malt whisky. ‘I don’t drink whisky,’ said Alex. ‘It sends me crazy.’ ‘Chicken!’ screamed Ollie. ‘Chicken boy. Chicken.’ Higgins grabbed the glass and downed it in one. His face twisted up in pain and he spat it out. He was ill for two days. But he had his revenge by treating Oliver to a crème de menthe laced with washing-up liquid. ‘Ollie was burping bubbles for weeks,’ says Higgins. Michael Christensen visited a few times and he and Ollie would have lobster-eating contests in one
The Devils. Unbelievable. To have all that rattling round in your head.’ They ate some toast, then Ollie announced that tomorrow he was taking everyone for lunch at a restaurant owned by one of his friends. ‘I can’t go,’ said Barton. ‘I’m doing a TV commercial tomorrow in London. I’ve got to get the first plane out of Guernsey, six-thirty in the morning.’ Ollie said, ‘No, no, you’re not going. You’re my guest. Nobody leaves here until I say. We are going to my favourite restaurant.’ As everyone
him highly professional. But there was one incident that the producer has never forgotten. The house used for the bulk of interiors was in such a state of decay that it had been earmarked for demolition. Most of the party scenes were shot there, including the memorable moment when Ollie enters a room with a spliff a foot long dangling from his mouth, and when told to drop dead by a girlfriend casually jumps out of the window. Perry decided to hold the cast and crew wrap party at the house too.
bad boy he was very quiet, he liked to read, he liked there to be quiet around the house, he was very easy to get on with.’ Was part of the appeal of these trips for Oliver the opportunity just to relax and unwind, away from the distractions of his life in England, with just Carol and her young daughter? One also senses that Ollie enjoyed the feeling of being part of a ‘family’ with Carol. Of course, he had a son back home, but he’d always wanted a daughter, and Carol has never forgotten the
stands out today when you look at it are two things. First, the sheer beauty of it, the costumes, the make-up, but especially the production design by the then unknown and untried Derek Jarman. And then there is Oliver. ‘It is his greatest performance,’ says Murray Melvin. ‘And seeing it again recently with some of the gang we were all in tears at the end, saying, God, he was brilliant, why the bloody hell isn’t he here to see this now, to really appreciate what he did, because in retrospect it’s