Lars Ulrich Explains Why He Doesn’t Want a Metallic Biopic


In a recent chat with Collider, Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich explained why he isn’t in favor of making an officially authorized Metallica biopic despite recent successes in the rock world from the likes of Queen and Mötley Crüe.

First, the interviewer asked whether Metallica would consider making another film in the style of Some Kind of Monster, the 2004 documentary that went inside the recording sessions for what would end up becoming St. Anger while also shining a light on the personal struggles of the band members. Lars replied:

“Again? I’m not against it. Certainly, it was a difficult time and a trying time that was being captured on film, but I’m very, very proud of how the project came out. I’ve sat through that film enough to sort of be able to almost remove myself from it.

“It’s almost like [watching] characters on a screen, and kind of third-person, if you know what I mean? But obviously, what worked about it, and [directors] Joe [Berlinger] and Bruce [Sinofsky]’s vision, really, was the dramatic arc that ended up sort of organically playing itself out.

“I think that’s a significant part of the reason that the film resonated with so many people.

“It probably resonated with more people in the film world than the music world, which is interesting, because a lot of people in the film world were almost shocked at how transparent it was.

“And I think at that time, before social media, and before the kind of access that social media obviously requires and facilitates, not a lot of people had seen a rock ‘n’ roll band that vulnerable and that up-close, and as we say at the end, ‘warts and all.’

“So obviously, there was a lot of stuff in there that a lot of times doesn’t get aired because people only want to sort of promote the positive things, or whatever.

“So I’m very proud of the fact that we stuck with it, I’m very proud of Joe and Bruce’s vision, which we supported, and I’m very proud of the fact that we actually took control of the film back from our record company and handed it over to Joe and Bruce – because they did such an incredible job.

“Would we do it again? Again, it’s the same answer as before. I’m not against doing it again, but I think maybe the value is less because of how social media nowadays has kind of…

“Everybody’s much more used to seeing behind-the-scenes of musicians and actors and creative types, and well-known people share much more about what goes on, especially now in the COVID times, about sort of what goes on in their houses, and what goes on in their creative processes, and the writing stages and the recording stages, and all that behind-the-scenes stuff.

“So it probably has little less ‘holy fuck!’ value than it did 20 years ago when that movie first came out.

“But again, I think it’s important to remember that a significant part of the reason that movie connected with so many people was because of that dramatic arc that was there.

“Obviously, when we were going through that process for those two years, nobody knew how it was gonna end. It’s pretty crazy that none of it was scripted, and so we were very lucky in that sense, in that there was a sort of, almost, basic screenwriting 101 [with] the three acts in the way the dynamics play out over the course of that two-hour journey.”

On the topic of a possible Metallica biopic, when asked who Lars would like to see portray him on screen, he answered:

“[Laughs] Yeah, well, they’d need a five-foot-seven, small, balding… I mean, we sort of joke about this all the time.

“We use to have kind of the standard answer back in the day, just because you’d get asked that every three months in interviews. James Spader would play me, the Cowardly Lion from The Wizard of Oz would play Hetfield, and we’d joke about how Carlos Santana would play Kirk [Hammett].

“We had all kinds of fun, but the question would beckon, what time period are we talking? Is it Metallica in their youthful times, or now?

“There’s so many incredibly talented people out there, and it’s incredible how some actors can just transform. I think what Taron did as Elton John stands out as just being incredible casting, an incredible fit.

“But the biopic thing, I think that’s more of a cautionary tale, which kind of falls in under the whole thing with autobiographies. I’m not sold on the idea.

“The idea of writing an autobiography I think is challenging because I think you would have to be completely truthful.

“And to be 100% truthful, it’s hard to tell the stories without bringing other people into it, and then you sort of get into that whole thing where maybe the protagonist in that particular story wouldn’t want the story told.

“So to me, it’s kind of a dilemma of, these stories deserve the truth if you’re going to talk about them, but at the same time, you can’t take for granted that everybody who’s involved in those stories wants those stories out there.

“It’s a little bit like you and I take a picture together, and then I put it up on my social media without asking you. So there’s something about that I haven’t quite figured out yet, but obviously, as a creative undertaking, I would love to throw myself out into what Metallica would look like in the medium of film.

“That’s one of the main reasons we did ‘Through the Never’ six or seven years ago [in 2013], but if it’s going to be more of autobiography, I think that’s going to be way more challenging because there’s so many biopics where you kind of sit and roll your eyes.

“I guess somewhere I’m just kind of a stickler for the truth, for some reason, so if you’re not gonna tell the truth, then maybe you shouldn’t say anything at all. That’s where it gets a little complicated for me, but let’s see how it plays out.”

On the topic of when Lars plans to retire, he offered:

“The spirit is still youthful. We still feel engaged and inspired and invigorated by the idea of playing music, by the idea of being in a band, by the idea of connecting with an audience.

“Who the fuck would’ve thought, 35 years ago, that we’d still be sitting here in the year 2020 releasing records and doing interviews, and at least up to 2019, playing gigs, and connecting with audiences all over the world. Nobody would’ve expected that!

“So I would say that if the necks and the knees and the elbows and the shoulders and the rest of the body parts hold up, then I still think we’ve got a good run. There’s certainly no shortage of enthusiasm or desire.

“I can tell you last weekend that I was watching a Rolling Stones tour documentary on YouTube from their 1976 tour in Europe, and the whole theme of the documentary – there’s like 45 minutes in Belgium and it’s 1976, so most of the dudes in the Stones were probably 32 or 33 years old, give or take a year or two…

“And at that time, the main question being asked of all of them was, ‘How long do you plan to keep doing this? You’re 32 years old, leave it to the youngsters.’ That was 44 years ago, and The Stones are still out there loud and proud, and making audiences feel good.

“So I’d say that health issues and pandemics aside, we hopefully still have a good run, and we can’t wait to get back to making another record. Maybe our best years are still in front of us, hopefully.”

Metallica have been working on new song ideas remotely during the pandemic, with James Hetfield, Lars and Kirk Hammett all recently saying they’ve been writing independently and plan to jam together in a “bubble” some time later this year. The band hosted a pre-recorded drive-in concert in August at hundreds of outdoor movie theaters and just released a recording of last year’s S&M2 concert, which beat out Katy Perry for top-selling new album in its first week of release. Meanwhile, a re-worked version of “Nothing Else Matters” is slated to appear in the upcoming Disney film, Jungle Cruise.

[via Ultimate Guitar]

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