October 20, 2021

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Johnny Rotten Calls Sex Pistols TV Series ‘Disrespectful Sh*t’


Sex Pistols legend Johnny Rotten is none too pleased with director Danny Boyle’s upcoming biopic series about the punk rock pioneers’ short reign, Pistol, due next year on FX. Last week, Rotten called the imminent TV retelling a “disgrace,” suggesting it disrespects his history.

But the Sex Pistols singer and Public Image Ltd frontman didn’t say he’s averse to watching his early musical story unfold onscreen in some manner. However, he does have issues with how his character — taken up in Pistol by Anson Boon — is communicated through Boyle.

“I think that’s the most disrespectful shit I’ve ever had to endure,” the 65-year-old musician told The Sunday Times in an interview that emerged on April 24. “I mean, they went to the point to hire an actor to play me but what’s the actor working on? Certainly not my character. It can’t go anywhere else [but court].” [via NME]

Further, the Sex Pistols icon, whose real name is John Lydon, added that he and Boyle (Trainspotting, Slumdog Millionaire) aren’t “complete strangers” — the two evidently met during the opening ceremony at the 2021 London Olympics. But that seemed to add insult to injury for the musician. (A spokesperson for Pistol told the NME that “direct contact was declined” by Rotten after Boyle reached out to him about the series.)

“Sorry, you think you can do this,” Rotten seemed to state to Boyle directly, “like walk all over me — it isn’t going to happen. Not without a huge, enormous fucking fight. I’m Johnny, you know, and when you interfere with my business you’re going to get the bitter end of my business as a result. It’s a disgrace.”

FX revealed the first on-set images from the series last month, with Boon as Rotten plus Toby Wallace (Steve Jones), Louis Partridge (Sid Vicious), Jacob Slater (Paul Cook) and Christian Lees (Glen Matlock) portraying the Pistols’ in their prime. The six-episode TV series finds its basis in Jones’ 2018 memoir, Lonely Boy: Tales From a Sex Pistol, as Variety reported.

“Imagine breaking into the world of The Crown and Downton Abbey with your mates and screaming your songs and your fury at all they represent,” Boyle previously said of Pistol in a statement. “This is the moment that British society and culture changed forever. It is the detonation point for British street culture … where ordinary young people had the stage and vented their fury and their fashion … and everyone had to watch and listen … and everyone feared them or followed them. The Sex Pistols. At its center was a young charming illiterate kleptomaniac — a hero for the times — Steve Jones, who became in his own words, the 94th greatest guitarist of all time. This is how he got there.”

Pistol is expected to premiere in 2022.

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