The Ghost of Richard Harris will launch on Sky Arts on November 19. Directed by Adrian Sibley, this candid Sky Original documentary recalls the life of the legendary actor, poet and singer Richard Harris, whose distinguished career has sometimes been overshadowed by his reputation as a “hellraiser”.
This feature documentary explores the colourful and turbulent life of the Irish actor - as told by Richard Harris himself. His voice - the ghost of the title - is drawn from many sources. These include some previously unheard tapes recorded by Irish journalist Joe Jackson, whose interviews with Harris took place over a period of 15 years. The film also features unseen sand intimate family footage from the Harris Estate. Perhaps, he is best known to younger generations for playing Dumbledore in the first two Harry Potter films, but Richard Harris also left a legacy of some remarkable movies. In this film, he is remembered by some of those who knew him well. They include his three sons: Damien, Jared and Jamie – as well as those who worked with him, such as Vanessa Redgrave, Russell Crowe, Jim Sheridan and Phil Coulter. The film explores Harris’ complex, flawed genius and his unique and multiple talents. He was, after all, a chart-topping singer and an acclaimed poet – as well as an actor whose career spanned the decades and who earned his first Oscar nomination in the 1960s (for This Sporting Life) and his last in the 1990s (for The Field).
The Ghost of Richard Harris is part of Adrian Sibley’s extensive and distinguished filmography. The biographical film director’s previous subjects include Sir Anthony Hopkins, Baz Luhrmann and Steve Martin. He also directed The Kate Bush Story: Running Up That Hill (2014), Prince’s Last Year (2018) and The Road to Palmyra (2018).
Director Adrian Sibley says “I had the pleasure of meeting Richard Harris through his son Damian at the Savoy to talk about making a documentary about his life and times. He’d seen my film with Anthony Hopkins where he talked about drinking and thought we’d work well together. Richard took me out for supper, and I had one of the best nights of my life. He was the ultimate storyteller and everyone in the restaurant stopped to listen to him, but I still felt that he was only talking to me. I knew I could make a fascinating film about this unusual man but unfortunately soon afterwards he became ill and died. Now on the 20th anniversary of his death and using hours of unheard audio tapes, I’ve had the opportunity to work with him from beyond the grave and make the film we discussed, with him unravelling the story of what he calls “a turbulent journey” of “great highs and lows”, in short, a life that few can even imagine.”
The Ghost of Richard Harris has been financed by Screen Ireland and Groove International alongside Sky Arts, which is part of an increased wider investment in Irish content by Sky. International sales are being handled by Abacus Media Rights.
The Ghost of Richard Harris will be available on Sky Arts from 19 November 2022.
About Bright Yellow Films
Bright Yellow Films is a film and television company that aims to make films that protect the director's vision and give platforms original content from television programmes to feature documentaries. Notable feature documentaries include The Ghost of Richard Harris, which had its premiere at The Venice FIlm Festival this year, and the critically acclaimed Netflix film Misha and The Wolves, about a supposed Holocaust survivor. Other documentaries made by Bright Yellow include The Road to Palmyra, a journey through war torn Syria with photographer Don McCullin and Looking for England where he turned his camera on his own country. The company was co-founded by award winning directors Sam Hobkinson and Adrian Sibley and is now run by Adrian who has made many successful biographical films including The Kate Bush Story: Running Up That Hill.
About Samson Films
Samson Films is a film & TV production company based in Dublin. As well as developing its own film and TV drama material, Samson also acts as a co-producer and executive producer on a wide range of Irish, European and International feature film projects. The company has been awarded Slate Funding by Creative Europe on a number of occasions, most recently in 2021. Samson has also received Screen Ireland Slate Funding. The managing director, David Collins, is a founding member of the European Film Academy and has also regularly served on the boards of ACE and Screen Producers Ireland.
About Groove International
Groove International is an independent production and finance company based in London serving film, theatre and television. Recent productions include The Ghost of Richard Harris, which premiered at the Venice Film Festival this year, Cabaret at the Kit Kat Club which is about to enter its second year at the London playhouse. Cabaret was nominated for 9 Oliver awards, collecting 7 including Best Musical Revival, Best Director and Best Actor and Actress for Eddie Redmayne and Jessie Buckley.
Groove also backed the well-reviewed family psycho-drama Mad House, starring David Harbour and Bill Pullman at the Ambassadors Theatre. Upcoming productions include Mother Goose to star Sir Ian McKellan and John Bishop and Moulin Rouge’s expansion to Cologne, Germany as well as supporting Pride & Prejudice (or not) in its upcoming tour of the UK. Groove is currently developing the stage adaptation of cult movie Withnail & I. As well as its theatrical interests, it is developing several TV series, feature films and documentaries.
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