Sex lib and dancing in Nick Hornby's film debut...
Late March: it’s another chilly night in London, lashings of rain pepper St John’s, a church converted into a concert hall. Which is exactly the purpose it’s serving tonight for An Education – the only difference is that it’s early ‘60s London and the hall is full of hatted men and beehived women, including the four leads Carey Mulligan, Peter Sarsgaard, Rosamund Pike and Dominic Cooper.
Mulligan (Pride & Prejudice) steps up to her first starring role as the bright but pretentious Jenny, a Twickenham lass who falls for older man-about-town David (Sarsgaard), described in Nick Hornby’s script as “not quite handsome”. He whisks her off for nights of champers and dancing with best pal Danny (Cooper) and his dim-bulb girlfriend Helen (Pike), but there lurks a seedier side. He will have her virginity…
“It was the beginning of women being really free,” Pike tells Buzz, reflecting on her first comedic role. “Skirts got shorter, legs came out more and there was this sense of freedom. This is set in 1962 and the pill came out in 1962 so I’d like to think that Helen is one of the first women to benefit from that.”
Hornby was in the bathtub reading a piece by celebrity interrogator Lynn Barber about her coming of age when he decided this was the tale for his screenwriting debut. His producer wife Amanda Posey nabbed the rights and several drafts, directors and false starts later, the film started shooting in March under Danish director Lone Scherfig.
“It’s like a snapshot of time in English history,” says Cooper, who was part of a cast get-together at a Lindy Hop swing club organised by Pike. “They thought I was a freak!” she giggles. “They all looked in total dismay.” “I was hugging the walls,” laughs Sarsgaard. “They didn’t like it if you weren’t good at it,” adds Cooper. “I got told off for doing bad swing!”