Cary Elwes to Direct Biopic About The Who Manager (Exclusive)

The Who Band Portrait - H 2012

The Who Band Portrait - H 2012

Producer Orian Williams is teaming with the actor to tell the colorful story of Kit Lambert, who discovered the legendary band and made them famous.

The life -- and death -- of Kit Lambert, famed rock impresario and manager of The Who, is coming to the big screen with all the music and drama that entails, courtesy of producer Orian Williams and actor Cary Elwes, who will be making his directorial debut, The Hollywood Reporter has learned.

The filmmakers are targeting a late-spring start for principal photography in the U.K. Pete Townsend and Roger Daltrey have read the script and are on board to contribute biographical details, as well as one kick-ass Who soundtrack that is something of a soundtrack to the '60s and '70s.

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Ironically, Lambert discovered The Who when he was trying to make a film about a young London band. Instead, he decided to launch their musical career, and with Chris Stamp -- brother of Terence Stamp -- Lambert pushed Townshend to take The Who into more experimental avenues. The result was the seminal rock opera album Tommy, which became a 1975 Ken Russell film. Lambert also worked with Jimi Hendrix and other artists, and was as known for self-destruction as they were.

"It's a riches-to-rags story," says producer Williams. Lambert lost a great deal of money at the end of his career and took up drugs and alcohol in an even more serious way until his death resulting from a fall down the stairs of his mother's house in 1981. He was definitely an old-fashioned British pop music raconteur.

"Kit Lambert was one of the great engines of creativity and change in the 1960s," Williams tells THR. "He used his wild behavior intelligently, to inspire a fearlessness that pushed The Who and others to break down musical and cultural walls." 

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The script was penned by Pat Gilbert, a former editor of the British music magazine Mojo. He based it on exclusive interviews with the managers of The Yardbirds, Marc Bolan, Japan and Wham! This is Gilbert's first screenplay. When he met Williams, he told him Lambert's story would make a great film. "All I said to him is, 'Write it,' " recalls Williams. "And he did."

Williams is best known for another period music biopic, Control, which is about the life and death of Ian Curtis of Joy Division. He's also readying a film project about Jeff Buckley and has Big Sur -- a movie about the end of Jack Kerouac's life -- set to premiere Jan. 23 at Sundance.