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NME: Does Rock ‘N’ Roll Kill Braincells?! – Toyah Willcox

August 5th, 2021

New from the NME! One of the most interesting Toyah interviews/features for a long time…

In Does Rock ‘N’ Roll Kill Braincells?!, we quiz an artist on their own career to see how much they can remember – and find out if the booze, loud music and/or tour sweeties has knocked the knowledge out of them

1 You starred in Derek Jarman’s 1978 punk film Jubilee. Upon its release, who created a protest T-shirt deeming it “the most boring and therefore disgusting film”?
“Vivienne Westwood!”


“I got one right! I’m so happy! Derek Jarman, the director, was thrilled by that (Laughs). When we started pre-production, people were behind the film, but then the punk world felt it was going to be exploitative. Derek Jarman was special and had no compromise. He saw talent in everyone and everything. Working with him on Jubilee, I quickly became aware that I was being catapulted from nowhere into the glitterati of this new movement and I immediately knew it was special.”

Ever run into Vivienne Westwood?

“I actually did some modelling for Vivienne. She probably wouldn’t have known it was me, but I did some modelling for TV at her shop [Sex] which was great fun. I got John Lydon through the screen test for Quadrophenia. Franc Roddam, its director, asked me to go over to Johnny Rotten’s apartment, learn two scenes with him, and accompany him to the studio to do the screen test for the role of Jimmy. He was an absolute gentleman and a brilliant actor, but nobody would touch Johnny because they felt he was unpredictable.”

You’ve acted with some big names including Katharine Hepburn and Laurence Oliver…

“Laurence Olivier was quite old when I worked with him [on the 1984 TV movie The Ebony Tower] and not terribly well so we could only shoot with him three hours a day, but he burnt brighter than anyone I’d ever met. He was a rebel and wonderfully naughty. I used to have supper with him in the evenings and was told not to let him drink – and we’d get through six bottles of champagne and he could still keep going! My first professional job was at the National Theatre so to be acting with him in a movie was thrilling.”

• Continue reading at the NME.