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On the set of Control

August 2006

IT is May 1980 and Joy Division are in rehearsals. As they near the end of Love Will Tear Us Apart, manager Rob Gretton swaggers in carrying a crate of beers.
"Eh up, something's up," says bassist Peter Hook. Rob's got one of his cheesy grins again. Been spending our wages again or what?" Gretton mainatins his grin, but says nothing. "Come on then you twisted b**tard, out with
it," chides Bernard Sumner, the band's keyboard
player and guitarist.
"It's all happening, boys," says Gretton. "Pack your bags, saddle up. May 19th we're off to the U. S. of fucking A. We're going to be somebodies," he continues, as they crack open a bottle each, buzzing with the news.
Frontman Ian Curtis is silent, stepping away from the party, frowning. He's not happy. Within two weeks - on the eve of the tour - he was found hanging at his Macclesfield home.
That scene from Closer, that'll make perhaps a
minute on the final cut, takes a dozen takes, as many rehearsals and three hours to shoot.
"It's normal, man," says Toby Kebbell, the Newark-bred actor who appeared in Woody Allen's Match Point and who's playing Gretton.
"I've seen takes go on for days and days."
For the scene, Kebbell, like Morton a graduate of the Carlton Junior Workshop, has an unlit
cigarette hanging from his mouth - he recently quit the habit.
"In a couple of scenes I've smoked because they're required for the part."
Gretton is "the comic relief", he says.
"It could seem dark," he says of the film. "But this is really what happened. Depression is a big problem. I think one thing the Americans have got right is seeing psychiatrists."
We're on the third floor of a former factory in Sneinton. A large dark room, a set bare but for the band equipment. The crew numbers around 20. Over the past six weeks they've been filming in the city at 60 locations including The Boulevard pub in Radford, Bestwood Social Club, Nottingham High School and the Marcus Garvey Centre. Of the 42 days' filming, 39 were in Nottingham. The three days in Macclesfield included exteriors shots at Curtis' home and the JobCentre where he worked.
The Nottingham base, where they've filmed most of the interior scenes, has been at the former Carlton TV Studios in Lenton Lane.
"A lot of Nottingham looks like Manchester did in 1980," says producer Orian Williams, a Californian who bears a striking resemblance to a young Brian Wilson. "It has the perfect aesthetic for the film. Like this building. In Manchester they've been turned into apartments."
They approached the regional screen commission, EM Media, and struck a deal - resulting in a co-funding to the tune of £250,000. For Williams it's a paltry sum. He shared
production duties with Nicholas Cage on the Oscar-nominated Shadow Of The Vampire.
"Nic is a great guy, really focused, a perfectionist," he says.
Control, which is due in cinemas in the spring of next year, spans the last few years of Ian Curtis' life. It charts the struggle between his love for his wife and his burgeoning relationship with his girlfriend, and the depressive side effects
of his epilepsy medication. It is partly based on the book by his widow Deborah Curtis, played by Samantha Morton. Morton is absent today, having finished her four-week stint. The media-shy Oscar nominee is
currently busy filming the sequel to Elizabeth with Cate Blanchett.
As the band run once again through the scene I realise they're actually playing live.
"That's how we wanted it," says Sam Riley, who plays Curtis. He knows how, having spent a few years fronting nearly-rans 10,000 Things. Despite a part in 24 Hour Party People, Riley is a virtual unknown. Prior to filming he was working in a bar in Leeds. Now he's starring opposite Samantha Morton.
"I'm in at the deep end, I know," says the 26- year-old. "I go through a rainbow of emotions with Sam. The whole spectrum. Arguing, making love..."
How was that?
He grins: "Very enjoyable. It's a tough job."

Riley landed the role ahead of A-listers such as Jude Law because he was exactly what director Anton Corbijn wanted.
"His resemblance to Ian Curtis is uncanny," says the tall Dutchman, who moved to the UK to photograph Joy Division in 1979.
He has since become a renowned photographer and video director, having worked with Johnny Cash, Nirvana, U2, Coldplay an Nick Cave.
"You take a risk, when they're unknown. But he has been amazing. He has really took it to heart and learned very quickly. I'm very proud of him."
And what of our Ms Morton?
"She was quite full on, I was thrown into the deep end with her as a first-time director. If she had issues with something we worked the scene and it always got better. She's a fantastic actress."
We break for lunch, the obligatory catering van and double-decker bus parked in the Co-op car park in Sneinton.

Over a chicken dinner Kebbell, who'd wowed critics with his role in Shane Meadows' revenge drama Dead Man's Shoes, says he's had little time for partying around the city.
"I'm here to work. I don't drink anyway."
Neither has he seen much of his family over in Newark, as he's been waking at 6am and finishing shooting around 8pm most days.
Morton had been spotted around Hockley, while the quartet playing Joy Division - James Anthony Pearson (Bernard Sumner), Joe Anderson, (Hooky), Harry Treadaway (Stephen Morris) - have been regulars at The Social.
"We want to do a gig in Nottingham," says Riley, whose resemblance to Curtis is striking. "Yeah, as Joy Division. We're really up for that."
In the meantime he's more pressing issues at hand - this afternoon they're throwing him down a flight of stairs.

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