A biopic film about Robbie Williams is in the works, helmed by The Greatest Showman director Michael Gracey. In an interview with Deadline, Gracey said the project, which he has co-written, will begin production in the summer. It will tell the story of one of the UK’s most successful pop stars, who shot to fame with boyband Take That before a wildly successful and occasionally rocky solo career.
Including two albums with Take That, Williams has four of the 60 biggest-selling albums in UK history, more than any other artist, and, while US fame largely eluded him, he is hugely popular across Europe.
Williams’ music will feature in the film, and he will rerecord his songs to match the film’s emotional arc, according to Gracey:
All Robbie’s songs will be resung, for the emotion of the moment. If in his life he’s in the depths of despair, he’s not going to sing a song as cabaret flamboyant showmanship; it’s going to be broken, a cappella, stripped down, because that’s where he is emotionally. In moments of pure joy, you’ll get songs sung in this whirlwind of hysteria.
It is unclear if Williams will appear on screen, with Gracey adding:
As for how we represent Robbie in the film, that bit is top secret. I want to do this in a really original way. I remember going to the cinema as a kid and there were films that blew me away and made me say as I sat there in the cinema, ‘I’ve never seen this before.’ I just want the audience to have that feeling … It’s this fantastical story, and I want to represent it in its harsh reality all the way to these moments of pure fantasy.
Gracey describes Williams’s story as a “superhero narrative”, calling him an “everyman who just dreamed big and followed those dreams and they took him to an incredible place. Because of that, his is an incredibly relatable story. He’s not the best singer or dancer, and yet he managed to sell 80m records worldwide.”
Eleven of Williams’s 12 solo albums have reached No 1 in the UK, the most recent being The Christmas Present in November 2019. He has been awarded the most Brit awards in history, with 18 – twice as many as Adele and Coldplay who are tied in second place with nine each.
Williams – who has four children with his wife, the actor Ayda Field – has suffered from depression and substance misuse issues during his career; he is now sober. He recently lamented the British attitude to alcohol, saying in 2020: “The thing about drugs and drink is the delusion. In the UK and many places, it’s as natural as breathing … you leave school then you go to the pub and that is it, and then you drink. We don’t need any of that stuff.”