‘The Almond and the Seahorse’ Filmmaker Celyn Jones to Direct ‘Madfabulous’ (EXCLUSIVE)

Welsh actor, writer and directorCelyn Jones has set “Madfabulous” as his next directorial venture

Published Time: 08.05.2024 - 18:31:43 Modified Time: 08.05.2024 - 18:31:43

Welsh actor, writer and directorCelyn Jones has set “Madfabulous” as his next directorial venture.

The British indie is based on the true story of Henry Cyril Paget, fifth Marquess of Anglesey, who was once one of the richest men in Britain but died penniless and forgotten at the age of 29 in France.

“It’s full of pathos and humanity, it’s very much a character who wants to get the attention of his family who don’t want him and he keeps upping the ante with his spending, his flamboyance and his dancing,” Jones told Variety about the 1890s-set film. “What happens if you are a theatrical, and you are very gender fluid at a time when when people didn’t even know what that was? And you’ve got all the money in the world to do that. Well, of course, you buy a theater company, you buy every jewel you could get your hands on, you invent the selfie, you do these amazing and fabulous things that are very relatable today, when you look at the digital social media world.”

Jones describes Paget as “David Bowie and Marc Bolan rolled into one” and likens the story to “The Favourite,” “Amadeus,” “Marie Antoinette” and “Brewster’s Millions.”

Mad As Birds, the company Jones runs alongside Sean Marley and Nicola Pearcey, will produce in partnership with Ffilm Cymru Wales.Principal photography will commence this summer on Jones’ home island of Anglesey, Wales. “Dylan Thomas, which was our first film at Mad As Birds – “Set Fire to the Stars,” 2014 which I wrote and played Dylan – if that was a black and white punk film about a poet, then we’re about to go disco, and even full technicolor,” Jones said.

Jones also has three theatrical releases this year. Finn Bruce and Brook Driver’s “Swede Caroline,” a mockumentary set in the world of competitive vegetable growing, is currently on release. The ensemble cast includes Jo Hartley, Jones, Richard Lumsden, Alice Lowe, Aisling Bea and Ray Fearon. Releasing May 10 is Jones’ feature directorial debut, the Zurich debuting and Dinard-winning “The Almond and the Seahorse,” where he stars alongside Rebel Wilson in her first dramatic role. Here, Jones plays a traumatic brain injury survivor. And due in July is Janie Pugh’s Edinburgh and Toronto title “Chuck Chuck Baby,” following a group of women led by Louise Brealey working in a chicken factory, that showcases Jones’ darker side as an actor.

“Three very different roles, very different characters and very different film -

s… they’re all led brilliantly predominantly by women. And also women doing it for the first time – Jo Hartley leading a film for the first time in ‘Swede Caroline,’ Rebel Wilson leading a drama for the first time and then Louise Brealey in ‘Chuck Chuck Baby,’ that’s been a really fabulous element to it all,” Jones said. “They’re all British independent films that have played internationally and theatrically. And that’s rare. Just the fact that those films have been done with so much care, love and attention, and they’ve all got on to the big screen, is a credit to the people who’ve really got behind them.”

Jones co-wrote “The Almond and the Seahorse” with Kaite O’Reilly, on whose play it is based, and co-directed with Tom Stern. He says that he found the audience response to the film “moving and overwhelming” at its festival outings and particularly at its U.K. premiere, which was attended by survivors of traumatic brain injury.

“They were saying things like, it’s the first time they’d ever seen themselves represented so accurately on screen. And that the conditions or illnesses weren’t used as a device or a mechanism to push a story or an agenda, the fact that in the film, they’re shown so clearly and nuanced and accurately and they they were very moved and touched by it. And they can see the humor and pathos in it,” Jones said.

On what informs his choices as an actor, Jones said, “I am looking for the monster in the man or the man in the monster, I’m looking for some depth, nuance, a chance to be brave and take a leap. Because that’s where the best work is, which is the scariest place to be because failure lives very close to success. I’m not scared of the dark side of the human condition, I’m pretty robust and willing to explore those elements as an actor. And at the same time, I’ve got no problem with love, positivity, hope and kindness.”

Jones has been active as an actor for 25 years and as a screenwriter for half of that time. “As a director, like an actor, I’m drawn to character and to unique storylines that are stranger than fiction,” Jones said.

“Madfabulous” goes into pre-production in June.

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