First Look: Harry Styles Plays a Locked-In Officer in My Policeman
Robbie Rogers had finally fulfilled his childhood dream of playing professional football, first as a member of Columbus Crew in Ohio and later as a member of English football team Leeds United. But he kept his personal life – and the fact that he was gay – a secret. “My experience in sports was that you can’t be gay. The only person I knew was Justin Fashanu, and he killed himself,” Rogers says now, thinking back to those times. “I had a lot of trouble with who I was. I hadn’t had a love story of my own. I was thinking about regrets and where I would be in 10, 20, 30 years.
While in Leeds someone gave him a copy of my policeman, a 2012 romance novel by Bethan Roberts. It shook his world. “It was kind of like my coming out book,” he says. “I really think the book found me.”
The story, set in Brighton in 1957, follows a police officer named Tom Burgess who is gay, but lives in a society where it is illegal to be gay. He begins dating a schoolteacher named Marion, but also embarks on a secret romance with a museum curator named Patrick Hazelwood. Forced to repress his true feelings, he decides to marry Marion, and as tensions rise between the spouses, Patrick’s life ends in shambles.
It’s a powerful story of forbidden love, regret and living as yourself. Rogers, who came out publicly in February 2013, read it many times over the years and eventually shared it with her then-boyfriend, a prolific producer. Greg Berlanti (they got married in 2017). They teamed up with Sarah Schechter, partner at Berlanti Productions, to produce the project and adapt the novel into a film.
The end result is a stunning love story, featuring three shining stars—Harry Styles, Emma Corrin, and David Dawson, as seen in these first-look images, which capture the stifling grip of societal obstacles. It took about eight years to make, but for Rogers it looks like the film, which Amazon will hit theaters in the US and UK on October 21 and stream worldwide on November 4, comes out at the right time. “Unfortunately, we see what’s happening in the Supreme Court, what’s happening in Texas, in Florida, in different places around the world,” Rogers says of the recent round of anti-gay “Don’t Say Gay” bills. ” and similar laws. “The world moves slowly and then there are very ignorant people who want to send us back to the 1950s.”
my policeman jumps between two periods: the 1950s, in which Tom (Styles) navigates this love triangle with Marion (Corrin) and Patrick (Dawson); and 40 years later, when Tom (Linus Roache) and that of Marion (Gina McKee) the tense life as a couple becomes complicated when Marion agrees to take Patrick in (Rupert Everett) after suffering a stroke.
When director Michel Grandage, a prolific British theater manager who found himself drawn to the story as a gay man, began scouting the trio of young actors to star in the 1950s story Styles wasn’t on their radar . His team actually came to Grandage, saying that Styles had read the script and was very interested in the film.
Grandage met Styles in his London office and was immediately impressed with the pop star. Styles, best known for his time in boy band One Direction and his successful solo career, had yet to do much in the film world, making his acting debut in Christopher Nolanthe 2017 war movie, Dunkirk. But Grandage says Styles came to that meeting as a fully trained actor. “He had read the script so many times that he knew every moment of it in that meeting. I found that incredibly impressive. He knew the lines of the others; he knew all of his lines. He knew why he wanted to talk about it, why one scene was working that way and another was working,” says Grandage.
Styles’ stage career and huge following also made it clear that he and Tom had a lot in common. “This story is about two people in love with Tom, slightly obsessed with him,” Rogers points out. “Harry – the world is so fixated on him, on his every move.”
And it would turn out that Styles’ limited acting experience worked well for the role, says Grandage. “Because he didn’t do much, he didn’t develop the ability to do tricks or even lie. He can only do it sincerely and as he knows it,” he says, comparing his naturalist work to that of a young Albert Finney Where Tom Courtenay. “They just step into the role, and it seems to be very simple in how they get there and Harry had it,” he says.