By Fred Topel | Images property of Universal Pictures
Pirate Radio is set on one of the rogue ships broadcasting rock n’ roll off the coast of England in 1962. Tom Sturridge plays a young man sent to live on the boat. Of course he comes of age there. Should Sturridge ever be drafted into the Navy, he’s already done his boat training.
Tom Sturridge Boards Pirate Radio
“Everyone’s calling it boat camp like it was some kind of Saving Private Ryan elite naval training,” Sturridge said. “We just slept on the boat for a couple of days and got drunk and watched bad films. It was great. Everyone keeps going, ‘How was boat camp?’ It was great.”
The history of pirate radio boats was news to Sturridge, though the music was old hat. “Nothing. I was completely ignorant to it. My concept of Pirate Radio is very different. The music, I think you’ve got to be born in a cellar to not know about the Stones, The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, Dylan and stuff. But Richard [Curtis] has a weird freakish encyclopedic knowledge of that music and of that era, so he would kind of flood us tracks all the time. They gave us iPods with everything.”
Getting into character was easy with the soundtrack to the film. “The most important thing to me was the music simply because I think the easiest way to work out what it was like to be young in 1962 is to listen to the most eloquent young people from 1962 sing about what it’s like to be young in 1962. I listened to a lot of music, but as far as research of the actual pirate radio and what was going on on the boats, my character specifically is supposed to be ignorant and naïve to all of it. Basically, everything should have been a new sight, a new experience for me so I didn’t have to do that much.”
Filming Pirate Radio became a coming of age experience for Sturridge as well. “My overriding memory is more general, the romanticism of every day, everybody getting into the boat and going out into to the sea and the sun coming up and Bob Dylan playing over the PA system. People were really fishing off the sides. It’s so disgusting to say but making a Richard Curtis film is like being in a Richard Curtis film. It was a really good summer.”
Pirate Radio opens to theaters some time in November 13, 2009.