Music & Lyrics
"My love of opera stems from classical music," says Potts. "As a child, I started to listen to Brahms,
Tchaikovsky, Dvorak, and then stumbled across a recording of Jose Carreras singing 'Che Gelida
Manina' from La Boheme. I was hooked by the passion and the music."
Developing his love for singing in school and church choirs, and finding his voice to be a source
of solace in the difficult moments of his life, Potts went on to sing in amateur productions for Bath
Opera, for whom he performed leading roles in Mozart's Don Giovanni and Verdi's Aida.
Doctors warned him not to sing Aida after discovering an adrenal tumor following hospitalization
for a burst appendix, but he wasn't to be dissuaded. After surgery for the tumor, he performed in
Puccini's Manon Lescaut for the Southgate Opera Company in London, before breaking his
collarbone and suffering whiplash in a 2003 cycling accident.
This mishap and the financial difficulties that followed are what inspired him to enter 'Britain's
Got Talent', despite not having sung for years. Potts literally stumbled across the audition
application while surfing the web during a break from writing reports for his area manager at
Carphone Warehouse. "I was Googling around and got a pop-up window which I intended to
close but I accidentally maximized it and it turned out to be an ad for 'Britain's Got Talent'
auditions," he recalls. "I filled out the form and then saw my reflection in my laptop screen and
thought, 'No one's going to pick you. You're fat, you're too old and you're singing the wrong
kind of music.' But I decided to flip a ten pence piece. If it landed on heads I would press
'submit', tails I would press 'cancel'."
No prizes for guessing the result. Walking on to the stage was terrifying, but Potts had made a
wise song choice: 'Nessun Dorma' is arguably the world's most recognizable aria, taken from
Puccini's opera Turandot. The delirious audience reaction and three judges beaming in surprise
must count as the best moment in Potts' life, surely? "I was pleased to get that reaction, but I still
was looking for a trap door because Simon had yet to speak and I was expecting him to say
that it was okay but I'd messed up the note that everybody waits for..."
Much of the singing we hear in ONE CHANCE will be Paul's voice, but that doesn't mean that
Corden didn't take it very seriously since he was required to sing live during the scenes. At one
point, there was discussion that Corden's own voice be used, and the actor was certainly up for
it, squeezing in voice lessons while performing eight shows a week on Broadway. "But there's a
big leap between being able to sing and being able to sing opera," he notes, "and you had to
believe this guy is good enough. There was no point in doing it unless I could sing that big note in
'Nessun Dorma' really, really well. Ultimately, I think we made the right choice."
For the scenes in which Corden was required to belt out a song, the actor sang live with his
vocal/opera coach Kylie Watts standing off camera and conducting the actor so he could get
the breathing required for live performance correct. "It was important because people can tell
when someone is miming on screen," notes Watts, who joined the production shortly before it set
off to Venice, where she helped Corden get to grips with the Italian-language repertoire for
operatic arias. "If you don't speak Italian, it's hard to get to grips with at first," says Watts.
"Kylie has to remind me sometimes what I'm actually singing about," says Corden. "Will people
believe it? I hope so." Watts, a professional opera singer in her own right as well as a personal
friend of Potts' (they met on a singing course in Rimini), also appears in the film's recreation of
the Bath Opera production of Aida and found herself impressed by Corden's inherent musicality
and performance as her good friend. "What James did this morning was amazing," says Watts,
referring to the filming of the 'Britain's Got Talent' sequence in Bromley. "The first take that he did
brought tears to my eyes. He did an incredible job."
Potts' story has touched millions of people, most of whom who might not dream of going to see
an opera or a classical music concert. His story is one of triumph over adversity, and overcoming
the knocks and challenges life has thrown at him. After winning the first series of 'Britain's Got
Talent', Potts went on to perform in front of Queen Elizabeth II at the Royal Variety Performance,
played the Sydney Opera House and became the biggest-selling opera singer of the year in
2008. His three albums have sold millions of copies between them. The first, One Chance,
topped the charts in nine countries. He's also given nearly 500 concerts in everywhere from
Germany to Denmark to Taiwan to South Korea, where he performed in a stadium for 25,000
people. Ask a London taxi driver -- those great arbiters of the cultural conversation -- to name a
famous opera singer, and chances are they'll mention Potts' name.
With ONE CHANCE, many more people will come to know Potts' name around the world, the
determined underdog, dealt a bad hand by life, succeeding against all odds. "I hope this movie
finds a broad audience, I hope it surprises people," says Frankel. "We would all love to have a
secret talent that we one day got to share and I think this movie taps into that."
"I think this film is going to appeal to so many people," says Walters, "because it's about
overcoming adversity, but it's also about how Paul Potts got there. He's very well known so
people will be interested in seeing what his journey was. It's an interesting journey
psychologically, being bullied and his relationship with his father and mother and eventually
having the courage to stand up and do it."
"Never give up. If there's something you dream of doing, just persevere and go for it. Believe in
your dream, believe in yourself. ONE CHANCE is a film filled with universal messages and themes
that we can all relate to," says Menchel, "It shows that even a little guy can win, that anybody
can do it."
"If you don't ever give up, you can't fail and Paul is the shining example of that," adds Corden.
For the original aspiring singer who became a reality-show sensation, having a story made about
his life is both daunting and exciting. "I've always had the belief that in life you have to live each
day as it comes," concludes Potts. "That's how I've dealt with the setbacks I've had, and how I
deal with what has happened to me since 'Britain's Got Talent'. I think that's a lesson for anyone
-- don't ever take anything for granted and just take each day as it comes. I'm astounded that
people are going to be watching a movie about my life. I'm really looking forward to it."
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