Take That members Gary Barlow, Mark Owen and Howard Donald revealed exclusively to Deadline that they joined Greatest Days filmmaker Coky Giedroyc (Save Me) in Athens, Greece on Tuesday to shoot a short scene for producer Danny Perkins’ Elysian Film Group production.
It was a truly glamorous moment. “We play buskers,” Barlow joked.
Owen explained that the trio is seen busking at a train station in Athens. They perform the number “Shine”, a song from their 2006 comeback album Beautiful World.
”Yeah, we did the scene once Coky negotiated our ten-minute cameo down to about three seconds,” commented Barlow, to much hilarity from his bandmates who’d gathered in a suite at the Majestic Hotel in Cannes.
Owen’s tresses were being coiffed, Donald was dressing and undressing as he tried on different outfits, and Barlow was already suited and booted, ready for his close-up. They were to do a photo session on the Majestic Pier, followed by a private meeting with buyers who were shown a promo for Greatest Days bursting with song and dance.
The film is based on the stage show The Band, written by Tim Firth (Calendar Girls), and produced by David Pugh and Dafydd Rogers, while Jonathan Kier from BRON Releasing is selling all rights.
“The five lads in the fictional band are us but they’re not us, if you know what I mean. They sing Take That songs and I suppose there are aspects that are similar to us,” said Barlow.
The band in both the stage and screen versions act as a sort of Greek chorus as they follow five teenage girls—all devoted fans. The cast includes Aisling Bea (This Way Up), Alice Lowe (Black Mirror), Amaka Okafor (The Responder), and Jayde Adams (Serious Black Jumper).
“We met our equivalents,” Barlow said, referring to newcomers Aaron Bryan, Dalvin Cory, Joshua Jung, Mark Samaras and Mervin Noronha.
They remain the same age throughout the film, whereas the five teenage girls grow into middle age. Mark Owen understood the poignancy of that. “The boys do not age because the songs remain the same forever,” he explained.
Howard Donald offered a similar point on the longevity of the group’s hits, saying, “When we split up in 1996 and got back ten years later, the beauty of the radio was that they were still playing our songs and everybody knew the songs, almost as if we hadn’t gone away. The original fans had grown up and their daughters had been introduced to our music.”
Also, Barlow recalled an observation director Giedroyc had made during the shoot in Greece: “She said that the film’s about friendships and relationships and that it’s like a love letter to friendship, this movie. That’s not a bad message to send out to the world in these times, is it?”
For the stage show, Barlow, Owen and Donald were executive producers with original Take That member Robbie Williams. However, for the film, just Barlow, Owen and Donald “are taking care of that. It’s the three of us, not Robbie on this,” Barlow stressed.
He added, “This has been a really fun thing to do, being part of this. We haven’t had much responsibility which has been the nice bit. Everyone else has done the hard work. But it’s such a treat to see people working in our industry again, and to see them doing it with our music is the cherry on the cake.”
The three of them took in Cannes from their hotel window. They performed in Cannes just once, years ago, during an advertising conference.
”Isn’t that the thrill of our business though?” Barlow reflected. “Someone, somewhere came up with an idea on the back of a beer mat… and here we are in Cannes.”
Owen and Donald had not appeared in feature films, until now. Barlow had an uncredited cameo as an X-wing pilot in The Last Jedi, “for all of three seconds. Best day of my life,” he said.
”Don’t tell my wife,“ he pleaded.
Next up, Barlow will take his solo theatre show A Different Stage to London’s Duke of York’s Theatre from August 30th for a limited run. The show will then resume on a tour of the U.K.
And Howard Donald revealed that the three of them will regroup towards the end of the year to begin throwing around ideas for a new album.
”But next year is the actual writing year,” Owen said.
Howard interjected, “We try to find a direction we want to go in. It’s hit and miss sometimes but we need the miss to get the hit.”
He said that the record would be a big one for the group.
”It’s like the third coming of Take That,” said Barlow.
“Yeah, Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” countered Howard.
”2023 we write and produce the album, in 2024 we go on a world tour. It’s going to be a huge tour, “ said Barlow.
”Our Greatest Days are ahead,” he said, beaming a big smile.
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