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Production Notes for
the Universal Pictures Film

Billy Elliot

"The secret to dancing is that it is

about everything except dancing."

Martha Graham

The life of 11-year old Billy Elliot (Jamie Bell), a coal miner's son in Northern England, is forever changed one day when he stumbles upon a ballet class during his weekly boxing lesson. Before long he finds himself in dance, demonstrating the kind of raw talent seldom seen by the class's exacting instructor, Mrs. Wilkinson (Julie Walters). With a tart tongue and a never-ending stream of cigarettes in her hand, Mrs. Wilkinson's zest for teaching is revived when she sees Billy's potential. Rather forgetting the other ballerinas, she's drawn into teaching her new protégé.

But Billy must keep his participation in the class a secret from his widowed father (Gary Lewis) and overbearing brother Jamie Draven), as both men are on strike from their jobs at the mine, and are struggling just to keep food on the table. Their pent up frustrations finally explode when they discover Billy has been squandering his boxing money on less than manly pursuits.

Banned from ballet, and troubled by the diminishing mental capacity of his grandmother (Jean Heywood), Billy finds solace with his school friend Michael (Stuart Wells) which deepens into a touching friendship. Meanwhile, Mrs. Wilkinson encourages Billy to try out for the Royal Ballet School in London, where he can refine his craft while escaping his oppressive surroundings.

But he is torn between his responsibility to his family and to the gift with which he has been blessed. For his overwhelming desire to dance is more than a means of self-expression. It is his passion, and it is his destiny.

Working Films and BBC Films in Association with the Arts Council of England present Billy Elliot, the triumphant story of one boy whose unexpected love of dance helps him to overcome poverty and prejudice, and ultimately achieve his dream. The film stars Oscar® nominee Julie Walters, Gary Lewis, screen newcomer Jamie Bell, Jamie Draven, Jean Heywood and Stuart Wells.

The film is directed by Stephen Daldry, from a screenplay by Lee Hall, and produced by Greg Brenman and Jon Finn. Natascha Wharton, Charles Brand, Tessa Ross and David M. Thompson serve as executive producers. Brian Tufano is the director of photography, with Maria Djurkovic as production designer, John Wilson as editor, Stewart Meachem as costume designer, Peter Darling as choreographer, and Stephen Warbeck as composer.

Next: The Birth of Billy Elliot

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Michael W. Phelan:

Last modified: Tuesday, January 7, 2003 11:28 PM