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ONE CHANCE

About the Production
In early November 2012, at the Churchill Theatre in the London suburb of Bromley, Corden stands on a stage that has been dressed to look like 'Britain's Got Talent', belting out 'Nessun Dorma.' The milieu is convincing, and so are the stand-in doubles for judges Simon Cowell, Amanda Holden and Piers Morgan, at least from behind. But the most convincing factor of all is Corden himself, dressed in a slightly shabby suit and nervously coming onto stage to deliver his moving rendition of Giacomo Puccini's soaring aria. It's enough to send chills down the spine and bring tears to the eyes, much like Potts' achieved with his original audition.

While it's Potts' voice blaring out of the speakers, Corden is also singing live to ensure his breathing matches that of a real singer's. The actor is as lost in the music as Potts was back in 2007, conveying every ounce of emotion and concluding with his muted, modest acknowledgement of the audience's rapturous applause and the judges' awestruck reactions. It's a powerful sequence that cast and crew know they have to get absolutely right for ONE CHANCE to send audiences away with the same feeling of elation and delight engendered by that original audition. Fortunately, Corden is able to nail take after take as Frankel changes the camera's angle and distance and sets up a semi-circular tracking shot to capture his star from every angle he'll need to cut the sequence together in post-production.

"I loved that day," Corden says later. "I loved doing it, and it just felt like we came away knowing that our film has a good ending."

While Frankel agrees with the Rocky overtones of a guy who's approaching middle age and has put his dreams aside, he also see the film as a modern-day Cinderella story (albeit with a male protagonist) in which someone whose life represents a form of drudgery sees it transformed overnight. It's a tale that contains universal appeal. "The instantaneous nature of his fame is so thrilling to watch," says Frankel. "That's what was so memorable about the YouTube clip: not just that you were seeing something quite beautiful but that you were watching someone's life change in two minutes. The sensation you get is like watching someone jumping out of an airplane without a parachute: how did they just do that?"

As a mainstream Hollywood director coming to shoot in the UK with a primarily British cast and crew, Frankel was impressed by the professionalism he found. "The crew was fantastic, and they were a very unfussy group of actors," he says. "They liked to get on with it and do the work. I'm lucky that that's been true of my experiences in Hollywood, too." Frankel brought his longstanding cinematographer across the pond with him. ONE CHANCE marks his fourth feature collaboration with Florian Ballhaus, and their on-set relationship is one of humorous banter as well as deep understanding of each other's work habits and tastes. "Florian brings a great intelligence, a great narrative sense and a great sense of humor to his work in painting pictures for cinema," says Frankel. "And he tolerates me. That level of collaboration is very important to me."

Frankel was very open to his actors improvising and not treating the script as sacrosanct, a wise move when working alongside such comedic talents as Corden, Julie Walters and Mackenzie Crook. The film's star didn't set out to deliver a facsimile impersonation because "I'm not playing J. Edgar Hoover or Idi Amin." But Corden has worked hard to adopt some characteristics, including Potts' soft-spoken, Bristol-accented voice and the physical mannerisms of someone who hasn't always been allowed to be comfortable in their own skin. The actor also wore a dental prosthetic modeled on Potts' uneven teeth (before he had them fixed) throughout the shoot.

"My job is just to be as true to him as I can be," Corden continues. "It's made easier because the character in the film isn't the person we recognize now as Paul Potts, it's everything leading up to that point. I feel like I have a touch more freedom in that."

Where the plot deviates from real life, it's in the name of storytelling, a fact that the real Potts has accepted with good grace. "The most important thing is the message, and I think the message is bang on: a guy who's struggling for money because of injury and illness gives up and then flips a coin and does something that changes his life," says the singer. "I'm really happy it's being covered as a comedy because a 90-minute sob story is not what anybody wants to watch. People come to the cinema to escape reality."

Potts and his wife visited the set in Port Talbot on the day that their own wedding and wedding reception were being shot. "That was weird," Potts smiles. "I was sat next to David Frankel and Julz was on the other side, and one of the assistant directors said to me, 'Oh look, it still brings out the emotions. She's crying.' I said, 'Those aren't tears of emotion, they're tears of laughter because she's just finding this whole thing so surreal.'"

"Of all the days for them to come" laughs Roach, who was walked down the aisle as Julz by her own father. "I had butterflies in my stomach. I was all made up in a massive wedding dress, and I met the real Julz like that. It was really strange but I got chatting with them both and they are just a lovely couple. You can tell that there's so much love there and I hope we've captured that for the film."

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