Interview with Leo Gregory

“Excuse the pun, but it was like jumping in at the deep end.”

Like most of his generation, Leo Gregory didn't really know much about Brian Jones or the Rolling Stones before he took the role in Stoned. “I kind of thought his untimely death and short life were tragic, but also this ongoing tragedy where this icon wasn't necessarily on many people's radars, or as many as he should have been.”

Admittedly, despite Jones's status as one of several era-defining icons, he's not exactly a household name anymore, though there's nothing to prevent audiences from enjoying the movie if they're unfamiliar with the real life events. “I think younger audiences get something different from it,” says Gregory. “They don't have any baggage, they're coming at it with a blank canvas, and they're really responding to it.”

Having mostly heard about the period from his mother, Gregory can sympathise. But there's an undeniable allure to 1960s culture that shines through in the movie, particularly the rock and roll lifestyle.

“I can certainly see why it's every schoolboy's dream,” he admits. “Obviously, they created amazing music, but from the more frivolous side of things, it's the 60s, there's beautiful women and beautiful clothes, and I think every self-respecting young man fancied himself as a rock star!”

Never having picked up a guitar before the movie, it's obviously not a particular dream of Gregory's, though he laughingly concedes that he might've wanted to be “a rapper, maybe.”

It's not all girls and glamour, though. Stoned doesn't shy away from portraying the less pleasant side of the scene, and similarly doesn't idealise Jones. It's a remarkably unsympathetic portrayal of the star, though in Gregory's opinion, that's mostly because he wasn't a particularly sympathetic person. “I don't feel that the movie bastardises him necessarily, but it doesn't paint him as a martyr, which I think it could have easily done. With rose-tinted spectacles and hindsight, it could've been very much ‘poor Brian, the martyr,' and I don't think that would have been a fair depiction either. I think Stephen did a great job.”

Which is fortunate, as the director was one of the main reasons Gregory signed on to the project in the first place. “Obviously,” he says, “working with the big man Mr Woolley was a no-brainer, as the Americans say.”

As much fun as Gregory seems to have had playing a 1960s icon, there are evidently less pleasant aspects of the job. While the movie's been doing the festival circuits, Gregory's been getting a lot of comments about his nude scenes. He's philosophical about it, though. “If you're playing a role, it's not you. So if you're onset going ‘Leo doesn't want to get naked', you're not doing your job. It's not Leo, it's someone else you're trying to be.”

That's as may be, but it's still him up there on the screen. “I'd done it once before in Out of Control,” he recounts, “and that was me getting stripped naked by prison wardens and then smeared with excrement. I think once you've done that, you're up for anything.”

Rock and, as they say, roll.

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