An English national treasure, Bill Nighy’s Oscar nomination earlier this year for Best Actor in a leading role in Living was celebrated in London, but for many it was his performance 20 years earlier as Billy Mack in Love Actually that is engraved in our hearts. With a penchant for partying, promiscuity and drugs, he stole every scene, including when he turned to the camera on a children’s show saying, “Here is an important message from your Uncle Bill. Don’t buy drugs. Become a pop star and they give you them for free!”
Bill and I spitballed back and forth as to how to tell a story in a single frame. Together, we agreed on a period piece to add narrative and found prompts in the image of James Dean in Boulevard of Broken Dreams. Not someone to be pigeonholed, Bill wanted the story to be set outside of London – that was a little predictable - so we settled on New York. From there the jigsaw puzzle came together. The Meatpacking District, a snowstorm and a nod to a memorable news story in the early 1960s.
When the shoot wrapped, I was saddened that Bill could not morph back into Billy Mack and take me for a big night out.