Late Nights and Extreme Diets: How Anson Boon Became Johnny Rotten
Anson Boon is the 22-year-old British actor starring as Johnny Rotten in Pistol, Danny Boyle’s new Sex Pistols show. He hit the beach and brought homework, in the form of our work questionnaire.
INTERVIEW: Where do you work?
BOON: Most meetings in London’s showbiz scene take place in a dark basement in Soho, and I love it. There’s nothing like a terrifying audition followed by a pint in the pub next door on a rainy British afternoon.
INTERVIEW: Where are you now?
BOON: In a cafe near my house, eating two lunches. I spent the better part of a year on a rough diet to achieve Johnny Rotten’s skeletal figure, so I’m making up for it.
INTERVIEW: What gives you energy?
BOON: A tough challenge, a large coffee, and a good shower.
INTERVIEW: What’s your morning routine?
BOON: Is this where I’m supposed to say I wake up at sunrise for two hours of yoga and a pint of lemon juice? The reality is a fight with my alarm clock and at least two cups of tea to be able to function properly.
INTERVIEW: What is the hardest you’ve worked?
BOON: Without a doubt, Pistol. I felt a lot of pressure playing Johnny Rotten, which was a long and difficult process. Johnny walks and talks completely differently to me, and has the most unique way of thinking I’ve ever encountered. Every musical performance was played live by us actors. Danny wanted it to feel like you’re watching a real-life gig, so we didn’t correct anything musically in editing, either.
INTERVIEW: What’s your motivation?
BOON: Watching another actor give a banging performance.
INTERVIEW: When does it feel like work?
BOON: Normally I’m enjoying work too much, but there are occasions when the fun wears thin. Like one day when I spoke with young John Lydon’s slight lisp and high-pitched voice for too long and the pressure popped my jaw out of place.
INTERVIEW: What got you in trouble at work?
BOON: When the other actors who play the Sex Pistols and I broke into the studio after-hours and jammed together. We may have been risking the safety of all that expensive equipment we didn’t really know how to use, but nothing got broken in the end, and I’m pretty sure those late nights were what turned us from a group of hired actors into a band.
INTERVIEW: What’s your favorite workout?
BOON: Sprinting until I’m properly exhausted.
INTERVIEW: How long can you last?
BOON: I didn’t think this was that type of magazine.
INTERVIEW: What keeps you going?
BOON: The hunger for a new challenge.
INTERVIEW: What keeps you awake?
BOON: My dog’s snoring.
INTERVIEW: How do you unplug?
BOON: Long walks without my phone, watching football, and seeing a movie in the cinema.
INTERVIEW: Where do you want to retire?
BOON: I don’t want to retire. My granddad is 84 and still goes to work, plowing his field, every day. I want to follow in his footsteps.
INTERVIEW: What do you need?
BOON: A lot of preparation. John didn’t receive any formal musical training, so all the learning he did happened gig-by-gig. I couldn’t play him as the same person from start to finish, both onstage and off. The problem is we shot the series out of order, so it wasn’t like I could let my performance develop day by day. I remember one day going into work, shooting one of the Sex Pistols’s last and most accomplished gigs, having lunch, then shooting one of their very first and rawest gigs. I had to really plan out how John might change with each gig, so that I never got lost in the crazy shooting schedule.
Grooming: Christine Nelli using R+Co at The Wall Group.
Set Design: Taylor Robinson.
Production: Paige Viti
Production Manager: Niamh Hannigan
Fashion Assistant: Ariel Leon-Coeur