“Please allow me to introduce myself/I’m a man of wealth and taste.” So sings Mick Jagger at the beginning of the Rolling Stones classic “Sympathy for the Devil.”
But when that “man of wealth and taste” met the cast and crew on the set of “The Burnt Orange Heresy” — the new art-heist drama co-starring Jagger, which hits theaters Friday — you can bet no one had any trouble guessing his name.
Certainly not the film’s lead actor, Claes Bang, who was more worried about keeping his cool. “The first thing I thought was, they need to make sure that I sit down when they bring him into the room ’cause I might faint or something,” says Bang, who has several scenes with Jagger in the rock legend’s first film role since 2001’s “The Man from Elysian Fields.”
But instead, Bang got right down to business with Jagger. “Meeting him, I sort of skipped all the formalities and jumped straight into work,” says Bang, who stars as an art critic scheming with an art dealer played by Jagger. “Even before I said hello, I said, ‘Hey, it’s good that you’re here. We need to talk about this scene.’ ”
Director Giuseppe Capotondi says “it was quite unnerving” going to Jagger’s London office to meet with him about the role in August 2018, a month before shooting began. “He’s the most famous rock star in the world,” the director says. “But the moment I entered, he was very approachable and nice and sweet. I asked him why he didn’t do anything [with film acting] in 20 years, and he said it was because he didn’t have time, that his music and his band kept him away.”
Now, though, the timing was perfect for Capotondi, who had sent Jagger the script after hearing from “a friend of a friend” that he was looking for another movie role after previously acting in 1970’s “Ned Kelly,” 1992’s “Freejack” and 1997’s “Bent.” “We got lucky that he had the month free, so he could actually do it,” Capotondi says.
Mick Jagger in 1997's "Bent"
©MGM/Courtesy Everett Collection
Mick Jagger in 1992's "Freejack"
©Warner Bros/Courtesy Everett Collection
Mick Jagger in 1970's "Ned Kelly"
Courtesy Everett Collection
Mick Jagger in 2001's "The Man from Elysian Fields"
Courtesy Everett Collection
“The script was really interesting and different and literary and surprising,” Jagger said at last year’s Venice Film Festival, which “The Burnt Orange Heresy” closed. But he said that his interest had nothing to do with him being an avid art collector himself: “I’m not really a collector. I throw things away. I buy things and then lose them. I’m a completely hopeless collector.”
Still, Jagger did his homework in the art world to become Joseph Cassidy. “He did his own research with his gallerist friends,” says Capotondi.
The director says that Jagger possessed certain qualities he was looking for in the character: “We were looking for someone of British heritage who could play … a serpentine character who is the devil in this Faustian tale,” says Capotondi. “He’s got the face and the persona for it. Onstage, he’s quite devilish.”
But Jagger wanted to make sure to separate the Rolling Stone from the role, offering some suggestions for his transformation. “He was very clear that he didn’t want to look like Mick Jagger [as much as] possible,” says Capotondi. “And so we changed his hairstyle, for example. The way he dresses is nothing like Mick Jagger. And as for his accent, Jagger said, ‘Why don’t we try and give him an accent from Chelsea — the neighborhood in London — from the ’60s and ’70s, when Chelsea was a bit rough around the edges?’ ”
Bang was impressed that Jagger “didn’t bring the rock star thing into it,” conducting himself just like any other actor — even if he sells out stadiums. “He was very humble, such a team player and just all about … doing exactly what he needed to do in order for the story to work,” he says. “I mean, that’s a dream colleague, really.”