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TIFF: "Pride" star Bill Nighy still holding a Thatcher grudge

Actor Bill Nighy attends the 'Pride' Post-Screening Event Presented By Audi Canada at The Citizen during the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival on September 6, 2014 in Toronto, Canada.  (Photo by George Pimentel/WireImage) Actor Bill Nighy attends the 'Pride' Post-Screening Event Presented By Audi Canada at The Citizen during the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival on September 6, 2014 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by George Pimentel/WireImage)

Bill Nighy insists he's not just doing good public relations when he says working on "Pride" was one of his favorite acting experiences. The film tells the unusual true story of members of the LGBT community in Great Britain in 1984 raising money to support striking mineworkers.


Do you have any recollections of this specific action?


I didn't know this story, and it seems nobody knew this story. I couldn't find anybody who knew this story — aside from Stephen Beresford, who wrote the script, and the people who were involved. I have memories of the miners' strike because it was such a huge thing in Great Britain. It was civil war, and it was unprecedented, certainly in its length — it was the longest strike in trade union history — and in the intensity of the government action against the union. They prepared the strike before they were elected. Their big idea was to crush the unions, and they were seriously prepared and they were mobilized. I remember footage of convoys of police being bused to districts where they wouldn't be familiar with the people they were fighting so there weren't any mixed emotions. And they were starving by then. They had their mortgages defaulted, they were criminalized — often bogusly — they were really, really seriously assaulted. So they were in deep trouble. But here was an enormous amount of support from regular people. What's refreshing about the film is it's a little bit of the truth because it was largely misreported at the time for ideological reasons.

And the gay and lesbian community sympathizing with them made perfect sense because of that treatment.


The whole experience of being gay in 1984, it's bizarre. I find any level of homophobia mystifying. I mean, I can work out certain things, but in the end I just don't get why anyone would concern themselves with what anybody else did in that area. I just don't get it. And then to organize to try to prevent them from doing it, that's like sci-fi to me. I don't understand it. It's like when you hear about atrocities in the world, you think maybe they're another species. I don't understand that kind of thing. I don't understand Russia — not Russia, because I'm sure Russia is fine. It's jut those people who legislate in Russia. And the people who mindlessly legislate in India on this subject in 2014. It's bonkers, as we say in England.

The shadow of Margaret Thatcher certainly looms over all of this.


Sure, sure. It was a terrible time. I was not an enthusiast for Margaret Thatcher or her government or her policies, to put it mildly, and neither was anybody I knew. I didn't move in those circles. But it is quite extraordinary how in certain circles she is still revered and missed, which I find a little confusing, to be honest. But there you are.

Following the tradition of "Billy Elliot," "the Full Monty" and "Kinky Boots," how long do you think it will be until this is a musical?


Somebody else said give it three years, but I don't know that it will take that long. I think that's a musical waiting to happen, I would say.

Follow Ned Ehrbar on Twitter: @nedrick

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