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Wild Rose director heaps praise on his old school

Tom Harper: ‘I cannot state how important Acland Burghley was’

26 April, 2019 — By Dan Carrier

Tom Harper on location with Jessie Buckley

IT’S a film that had movie critics purring and charmed cinema audiences, a movie that will surely be on the nomination lists next award seasons.

The director? A former pupil at a school in Tufnell Park.

Tom Harper told the Tribune how Acland Burghley had inspired him to go into the film industry, a career that has brought him to Wild Rose, the engaging tale of a Glaswegian-born country singer battling to pursue her dream of a Nashville career while dealing with troubling domestic circumstances.

“I was totally inspired by my teachers at Acland Burghley,” Mr Harper said. “I cannot state how important Acland Burghley was.”

The 39-year-old’s previous credits include TV series such as War and Peace and Peaky Blinders. Wild Rose stars Julie Walters and Jessie Buckley.

“I actually started out wanting to be a musician and be in a band,” said Mr Harper. “But I soon realised all my friends were better at their instruments than me – so I looked elsewhere for a creative endeavour.

“I took GCSEs in music and dance, and a lot of my friends did art. The school promoted an artistic approach and artistic pursuits. Music and dance helped lay a foundation for me that was really important. “

Mr Harper came across the Wild Rose script while he was waiting to start work on another film.

“A project I was working on was taking a long time to come together, so I thought OK,” he said.

“I read it and fell in love with it. It had such heart. I had worked with Jessie on War and Peace and she just seemed so perfect for this role – it was a no-brainer. I had spent a lot of time working abroad with her and we are friends and so we were looking for another project we could do together.”

He added: “Julie came in later. Obviously she is very well known and experienced – and she was just extremely professional and hard working and was such a team player.”

Mr Harper admitted he was not a big country music fan before he set out to tell a story of a woman whose life is consumed by her love for the music.

“We all have some Johnny Cash and Dolly Parton in our lives but for me it was something on my periphery,” he admitted.

“But I did a job in Texas and I saw a lot of live music and learnt more about it. Now I am a full-on convert.”

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