Remembering My Beautiful Laundrette

On Film / Short Takes — Dec 2, 2015
My Beautiful Laundrette

This fall the British Film Institute inaugurated a season-long celebration of on-screen romance with LOVE, its UK-wide series of theatrical screenings and rereleases of classic film love stories—from Badlands to A Room with a View. In conjunction with this month's screening of Stephen Frears’s My Beautiful Laundrette, this week the Guardian devoted its regular “How we made” column to Frears’s treasured 1985 work. The film, which stars Gordon Warnecke and Daniel Day-Lewis, is a Margaret Thatcher–era love story—considered transgressive when it was released—that focuses on the unlikely relationship between a young Pakistani laundromat owner and his street-punk childhood friend. Now, three decades after the film’s premiere, Frears and Warnecke have taken a look back at their daring drama, offering delightful insights into the filmmaking process.

“Giving Daniel Day-Lewis the part of Johnny, Omar’s boyfriend, was a peculiar experience,” recalled Frears. “He had come to see me about another project and was talking with a south London accent. I said: ‘You’re the son of a poet laureate, why are you speaking like that?’ He said he’d been to a comprehensive,” said Frears, referring to England’s free public schools, “and had adopted it as a defence. Then he wrote me a letter saying he’d kill me if he wasn’t cast.” Discussing his own experience with the then-unknown Day-Lewis, Warnecke noted that “Daniel and I were called the Listerine Kids—since our characters seemed to be forever kissing people, we were constantly tipping it back before takes.” Read the article in full here.