What Can We Expect From Upcoming Morrissey Biopic ‘Steven’?

So, there is to be a film about Steven Patrick Morrissey, aka Morrissey, aka The Pope of Mope, aka the former singer of The Smiths, aka the world’s most vehement vegetarian. He’s also a novelist, but we don’t really talk about that.

We know it’s called Steven and the script is finished, as there have been dribs and drabs of reports about the upcoming biopic since the middle of last year. Another piece of news has broken today: the lead has been cast. The responsibility has fallen to 25-year-old Jack Lowden, a relative unknown you might recognise from War And Peace, which aired on the BBC over the winter. All eyes are on True To You, the fan site that Moz uses as his conduit to the world, often penning his own pieces, which are then published by its editors. Well, maybe he uploads them himself, but it’s hard to imagine Morrissey grappling with WordPress.

Jack Lowden

Anyway, what can we expect from this rock star biopic about a rock star who shuns sex and drugs and who, in our collective imaginations, is happiest curled up with a mug of Rooibos tea and a battered copy of The Collected Works of Oscar Wilde?

It’s not about sex and drugs

Well, obviously. No, but the point is that the movie will not focus on the rock’n’roll years. Rather, in the vein of Sam Taylor-Johnson’s 2009 film Nowhere Boy, which looked at John Lennon’s adolescence in Liverpool, this one will chart Morrissey’s deprived upbringing in 1960s Manchester. As director and co-writer Mark Gill explained in 2014, during the early stages of pre-production: “This is a love letter to Steven Patrick Morrissey and dark Satanic mills of Manchester.”

It will be accessible. Apparently

How do you make a crowd-pleaser about a figure as divisive as Morrissey? It’s a toughie, but Gill promises the script is “as much as a film for non-Morrissey fans as it is for die-hard devotees”, though he concedes that Steven will be a “love letter” to the singer.

It should be pretty funny

One of the greatest misconceptions about Morrissey is that he’s not funny. Do you really think he wasn’t taking the piss when he sang a song called ‘Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now?’ Look at his 2013 Autobiography. Yes, there’s a gruelling 100-page section where he details the Smiths/Morrissey royalties dispute court case in exhaustive and eye-scrapingly dull detail – his reputation for bitterness may be slightly more deserved, alas – but the first 100 pages are hilarious. They document his aforementioned childhood, so there’s plenty of material for Gill to go at. Like: “Naturally my birth almost kills my mother, for my head it too big.”

It could be a bit like Control, the Ian Curtis biopic from 2007

We say this only because Steven‘s producer Orian Williams and casting director Shaheen Baig both worked on that film. So, yeah, it might be similar to that harrowing account of Ian Curtis’ tortured life, but, like, a bit funny?

It will celebrate Manchester

Which admittedly has so much to answer for. The Hollywood Reporter‘s deliciously OTT account of the film claims Steven “will cover the pre-Smith life of the depressive poetic bisexual vegetarianism, growing up in bleak Manchester”, though Lowden has a more optimistic take. He’s said “Morrissey “wanted to get out and escape into that explosion of music that was in Manchester around that time. It was exhilarating.” So, Lowden’s no method actor, but he clearly gets it.

It won’t be out for a while
There’s currently no release date but filming for Steven starts in Manchester from mid-April.