Danish director and Toronto regular Lone Scherfig (An Education) tackles the badly behaved British aristocracy in Laura Wade’s adaptation of her play Posh, about an infamous Oxford University dining club.
The film premieres Saturday; HanWay handles international sales
What sparked your interest in this story?
I saw Laura’s play twice. It was so witty and ambitious that I told my agent that if there were a film version I’d love the chance to direct it. I was keen to make a film that had a slightly different energy and I wanted to make a film about class.
Class remains ever important in the UK…
Yes. There are variations elsewhere but it remains extreme in the UK. That said, the film is as much about tribes and conformity as British class.
What do exclusive clubs like The Riot Club tell us about society?
They are micro-societies. There are tiny ghettos like them all over the world, places where wealthy people don’t feel they have to hide their wealth.
Your producer Peter Czernin was a flatmate of David Cameron after being at Eton together. Did you ask him for any insight into members of the Bullingdon Club, which The Riot Club is based on?
Pete knows how knives and forks should be arranged at a formal dinner so it was good to ask his advice on certain things!
Would you like to see clubs like the Bullingdon Club abolished?
No, that would be extreme. I would prefer that anyone with great privilege acted responsibly. But for me the film was not that specific. Laura’s play is inspired by the Bullingdon Club but you won’t recognise any contemporary politicians in this film.
Despite that, one or two Tory MPs have complained about the film…
But they haven’t seen it. It’s more nuanced than they might think. And anyway, sometimes people being opinionated is a form of enthusiasm.
And how was it directing ten young men?!
Great. They are totally different to the boys they portray. I would direct each one differently. I remember thinking I’d love to put one of them in a trunk and take them home. I don’t have a son!
What’s next for you?
I’ll be shooting a couple of episodes of a US TV series called The Astronauts Wives Club for ABC. Then I’ll probably be coming to the UK to shoot another film. It will be a deviation from my previous work and technically very different.