Script consultant on Doctor Sleep (2019)

As a script consultant and script writer for hire I wrote the short film that kicked off Ewan McGregor’s film career in 1993. It was my first credit as a pro script writer, and one of Ewan’s first too.  The film was called ‘Family Style’; Ewan was very good in it.

Ewan’s career as a genuine movie star really didn’t start proper until ‘Trainspotting’ a few years later.  Since then, Ewan has done all kinds of work, from Obi-Wan in the Star War’s reboots to other smaller and more interesting indie work.

He’s had chances with big Hollywood films, (like The Island, Star Wars etc) but things haven’t really stuck. His best work is still ‘Trainspotting’ and it’s clever and enjoyable recent sequel.

So, here rolls up ‘Doctor Sleep’ another sequel, this time to Kubrick’s classic ‘The Shining’ with Ewan playing Danny Torrence as an adult. Based on Stephen King’s book, this riffs on Kubrick (even though King famously didn’t like Kubrick’s ‘The Shining’).

So, this is a pretty high profile role for Ewan, and I’m pleased to say he’s very good in the film, but this still isn’t THE part for him.  I think a lot of Ewan’s career has been spent looking for THE part.  Maybe it was Renton in ‘Trainspotting’ and maybe, THE part has already been and gone.  But Ewan is a better actor than some of the performances he’s given and the film’s he’s been in. I think there is another part for Ewan, and I think he’s still looking for it. THE part that will really put him into film history beyond ‘Trainspotting’.

Doctor Sleep returns to The Overlook Hotel and I must admit it’s exciting to see the old place again, a real treat to return to one of cinemas great haunted houses. Some sequences are matched shot for shot to The Shining, and it’s interesting for the real geeks to notice how the camera technicians get close, but can’t match Kubrick’s exact, almost mathematical framing and tracking. I understand why they didn’t and couldn’t, indeed it would be madness to try and match Kubrick’s precision frame for frame.

Ewan is very good in the film, and parts are rousing, but there’s also this whole daft B movie plot about these ‘energy vampires or something’ a plot which is fine and dandy for a B movie, but a plot which is also the very first thing that Kubrick would chuck out – much to King’s dismay. I like King. He’s good at what he does, but Stanley was on another level.

It would be interesting to see a film that actually just focussed on Danny Torrence, his bad memories of The Overlook, his struggle with alcoholism and his fears of the madness of his father being hereditary, returning to The Overlook to look and see if the ghosts are still there.  This kind of does that but…

It’s not a film solely about an older, scared and lonely Danny. That would be a better film and Ewan, could pull off that sort of doubt and worry and carry a film which is in his head (given the chance).

I don’t know where Ewan is going a lot of the time, from film to film, from lacklustre script to the next; he’s older now and has had problems with his personal life.  He deserves a role that will push him, and make him sit up and take notice. It might be a script about doubt and regret as he his does this well. Doctor Sleep isn’t it, but he may be getting closer to whatever he’s looking for, and it might not be a big Hollywood film when the part comes along, he just can’t afford to miss that role, he’s been auditioning for it his entire career…

My feature debut as a director Markham (out on 31 August to stream and buy on DVD)

Matthew Cooper has been a script writer for hire, UK Script editor  and UK script consultant for over 20 years. He’s written for most of the UK soaps, including writing award-winning episodes of Emmerdale, EastEnders, Hollyoaks and Family Affairs and has been BAFTA shortlisted and Royal Television Society nominated as a script writer. His UK script coverage service, Script reading service and script development service are highly sought after.

You can find some of his broadcast credits on the IMDb.

You can contact Matthew directly to purchase his ebook The UK Soap Opera Script Writers Handbook.

His directorial debut, the rubber reality horror thriller Markham will be released in 2020. You can find out more about Matthew’s work as a director here.

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