Sam Riley BLAG magazine shoot by Sarah J. Edwards

Life Imitating Art: The Time Sally Surprised Sam Riley With A Very Special Interview

Interview by Peter Hook and Sally A. Edwards
Photography by Sarah J. Edwards

Sam Riley BLAG magazine shoot by Sarah J. Edwards

Sally A. Edwards wanted to do something very special for Sam Riley‘s feature for his lead role as Joy Division’s Ian Curtis, in Anton Corbin‘s film, Control. We think you love the results.

The original story was first published in BLAG Vol. 2 Nø 9 print edition in 2008.

When we first heard the admirable photographer, Anton Corbijn had made his debut feature film, the word curious with the feeling of excitement sparking and sizzling off its edges sprang to mind.
‘Control’ is the debut, a film which centres around the highly esteemed, Ian Curtis and shows his dreams of following the path of his heroes, Iggy Pop and David Bowie. Meeting Peter Hook and Bernard Sumner at a Sex Pistols show and forming the band ‘Warsaw’ which later became ‘Joy Division.’ There are superb performances from a first-rate cast including Samantha Morton as Deborah Curtis, Joe Anderson as Peter Hook, James Anthony Pearson as Bernard Sumner, Craig Parkinson as Tony Wilson, Alexandra Maria Lara as Annik Honoré and Toby Kebbell who transforms himself into manager, Rob Gretton.

We won’t disclose anymore at this point, as we’ve got something very special lined-up for you.

“So I was working in a warehouse in Leeds and I thought, ‘Well, even acting’s got to be better than this.’ So I rang my agent who I hadn’t spoken to for years. I said, ‘Have you cast James Bond yet?’ And they said, ‘Yeah, they have, love… but they are doing a Curtis film, again.’ So I went along, and here I am talking with Hooky on the phone.”​

Sam Riley

We too, as many others, were very excited that a relatively unknown would take on the role of Ian Curtis. Meet Sam Riley, a tall, handsome, lovely lad hailing from Leeds who speaks in the native accent, laced with a gravelly undertone. To top that off his feet are refreshingly firmly on the ground. So, as a special treat and because you know how we like to put a spin on things (and not in the typical sensationalised way) we figured it would make sense to get someone from that time to interview Sam so we could get an internal view of it all.

We knew we would have some links. After going through the mental rollerdex, we called a good friend who worked on the film, ‘24 Hour Party People’ (The Michael Winterbottom comedy based on Factory Records’ Tony Wilson played by Steve Coogan.). Together we decided on who the best man would be for the job. We chose none other than the UK’s beloved, Hooky – that’s right, Peter Hook, pivotal member of Joy Division and New Order. After a couple of calls and emails we were given the thumbs up and a direct line.

Some scheduling followed. We arranged to go high-tech with a phone conference between the three of us via the laptop.

Before the interview: the photoshoot. Sarah and I meet Sam at London’s Soho House. It’s a quick, laid-back shoot. Sam is charming, modest and very chilled, calm and great to work with.

That night we watched the film. ‘Control’ is absolutely beautifully shot (we wouldn’t expect anything less), completely transfixing and well worth the critical acclaim it has received, along with the award nominations and no doubt, wins. It’s a feature that truly stays with you, and that’s a pretty rare thing.

Several days later I’m at my laptop opening up a well known VoIP (I told you it was high-tech), “SShhhhhh Ooooup!” it cries at it launches. Alright, here goes with my fingers crossed, I dial the number for Sam’s rehearsal studio in Yorkshire, get greeted by Sam who you can hear is smiling, then dial-in Peter (I, unlike pretty much the entire British population have been referring to him as Peter due to my initial introduction) who starts by asking Sam where he is. “I’m hiding. I’m in hiding in Menston in Yorkshire from all that stuff,” he laughs…

Control, 2007 trailer

Peter: Hahaha! That must make your publicist very happy.
Sam: Yeah. No, I haven’t got one of those either.
Peter: Oh, you’ve not? Aren’t the film company on your back?
Sam: Sort of, I was in London last week, doing a week of stuff.
Peter: I always wondered, is it in your contract that you have to do all that stuff? That you have to do a certain amount?

Sam: Yeah, I think so. I mean I have to, I can’t just turn my back on it now. I have to ride it out a bit.
Peter: You’re not enjoying it by the sound of it then?
Sam: No, I don’t mind it actually, because it’s still the first time I’ve done it. How do you feel about interviews then?

Peter: Hahaha! Well, I don’t know really, it’s one of the things that you’ve always had to do really. I mean we sort of found it really weird at the end of New Order, because you were doing the same amount of interviews and getting loads of press, but you weren’t selling any records. So it made you think, like, ‘Bloody hell! Why do we do all this press?’ and you sort of think, ‘Is it because everybody expects it?’ Or, ‘Does it actually work?’ It was one of those things and because we’ve always done it for like, at least on the past three or four records, you tend to, but you know it is a good way of getting a good jolly to get it paid for, to go and stay in smart hotels and talk to people at T4.

Sam: Yeah, I like that part of it, Peter. I got to stay at Soho Hotel for a week, which was nice.
Peter: Wonderful, isn’t it?
Sam: Yeah, it’s a smart place.

Peter: So how’s it affected you? Has it affected you in anyway? It was [Ian’s] birthday yesterday, or the day before wasn’t it?
Sam: Yeah, it was, yeah.
Peter: You remembered.

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