I know, I know, it’s a cryptic headline. Good, because it got you to take a look. Now you are here please allow me to explain just why the film based on my book will be nothing like Mr. Nice.
Perhaps the starting point is this article in the UK media that was published last weekend. It features my book Undercover: Operation Julie – The Inside Story.
I quote the opening part of the article:
It’s one of Wales’ most famous stories about a drugs ring that makes Breaking Bad look like a high school chemistry class.
And now, a film company has decided to take the tale to the big screen – but they’re planning on putting a comedy spin on the story.
The film will centre on Operation Julie in the 1970s which saw undercover cops take down a massive drugs ring in Wales.
It was said at the time that the drugs ring made around 60% of the world’s LSD.
The operation, named after Sgt Julie Taylor (an officer involved in the busts) has already featured on TV and was immortalised in The Clash’s Julie’s Been Working for the Drug Squad .
Now, you may ask who or what was Mr. Nice.
This is what Wikipedia says:
Mr Nice (US title Mr. Nice) is a 2010 British-Spanish crime-drama. Directed by Bernard Rose, Mr Nice is in part a biopic due to it being a loose film adaptation of Mr Nice, the 1997 cult autobiography by Howard Marks. The film features an ensemble cast starring Rhys Ifans as Howard Marks (with Marks himself giving Ifans instruction), along with David Thewlis, Omid Djalili and Jack Huston, with Crispin Glover and Chloë Sevigny.
Ifans portrays Marks, a real-life Welsh marijuana smuggler who ran one of the biggest global cannabis smuggling operations from the late 1960s to the early 1980s, mostly while on the run. Marks associated with some of the more colourful characters of the era, allegedly even cutting deals with the likes of the FBI, the Mafia, the IRA and MI6. After serving time in Terre Haute, one of the “toughest” prisons in the United States, Marks stopped smuggling and dealing in cannabis (although he still openly used the drug himself), and gained wider fame as a pro cannabis campaigner, stand-up comedian, actor (at least in cameos), lads mag columnist, television show panelist, music producer, motivational speaker, and even prospective Member of Parliament.
Like Marks’ autobiography on which it is based, the film has polarized critics.
The connection between my book and Mr. Nice? There are a few.
It all started with this early review of my book. Please note the graphic below contains excerpts from two Amazon reviews. It’s also the old cover.
It was flattering to know at least one reader thought my book worthy of adapting for a film. I didn’t think too much of it until I was flooded with inquiries as to whether my book was optioned for film and TV rights.
That in itself is a long story and may get told one day. For now, let me mention the second connection to my book and Howard Marks aka Mr. Nice.
I did receive a serious inquiry from Victor Glynn of 369 Productions. Victor is a veteran of the UK film industry and also headed up Sony in LA at one time. He’s a big hitter. We did have a deal in principle, so much so that his executive producer wrote a screenplay based on my book.
It didn’t happen. I think mainly because of serious health problems affecting both Victor or his close family and the executive producer.
Victor Glynn knew Howard Marks well. His production company were also seriously interested in making a film about ‘Mr. Nice.’ It ran into some kind of legal problems so Victor dropped out of the scene. It happens.
My third and equally slim connection to Howard Marks is through my days when I was studying to become a barrister at London’e Inns of Court School of Law. This is way after I had left the police force.
I got friendly with a much younger guy who was dating Howard Marks’ sister. It resulted in me being invited to the sister’s birthday party partly so I could meet Howard Marks. Everyone thought it would be a hoot for the ex-Operation Julie undercover cop to meet the former drug trafficker, Howard Marks. It didn’t happen. I don’t recall the exact reason for that.
Right, I hope you are still with me. So, why will the film based on my book be nothing like the Mr. Nice film.
There are a number of reasons. One, I think audiences will find it hilarious in parts as the screenplay has many comedic parts to it. The script has been written by two talented and very funny guys, Jack Cheshire and Ryan Cull.
The Managing Director of the production company, David Wooster of Worldmark Films, always saw my book was right for this kind of treatment for an adaptation. After time and a few discussions, I agreed with him,resulting in an option being agreed on.
I also remind myself there are many funny scenes in my book. It’s not all serious stuff.
Yes, it has drama but it’s not a Hollywood-style Die Hard-type of movie. It’s quintessentially British and that, in my book [see what I did there], is a good thing,
People love that British humour, right?