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
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
"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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