PSAS & Victoria Sellers' full-page ad in VARIETY DAILY
(about "The Life And Death Of Peter Sellers")
With the US debut of Stephen Hopkins' film THE LIFE AND DEATH OF PETER SELLERS, members of Peter Sellers Appreciation Society (PSAS) seek to voice concerns over the portrayal of Peter Sellers, the actor whom we remember and revere.
The film takes its title and the majority of its dramatized incidents from Roger Lewis' 1996 biography of the same name. In the book, Mr. Lewis presented Peter Sellers as an unhappy madman who made everyone around him suffer. Mr. Lewis failed to find any positive sides to a man who brought joy to people around the world-and continues to, on a daily basis. Instead, every negative anecdote was magnified and Mr. Lewis imposed his own amateur psychoanalysis on his subject-whom he never met. Our research over the years, including interviews and discussions with people who did in fact know Peter Sellers intimately, has yielded very different and more tangible insights.
Despite the tremendous talents of the film's actors, particularly star Geoffrey Rush, and the efforts of Mr. Hopkins and the crew, the film does not succeed in conveying the real Peter Sellers. Although the film has commendably toned down some of the book's unrelenting negativity, Peter Sellers is still cast as “the bad guy”. Less than half of the 54 years of his life are even depicted. Further, there are significant mistakes in the film's chronology and depictions of people and projects. Is it really that difficult to adhere to the factual truth? It would seem so.
The film lacks objectivity and - as a result-it lacks Peter Sellers. We fear that viewers will come away from watching the film with a false image of the man. Who was Peter Sellers? A great actor. An inspiration to fans, peers and colleagues. A human being. In other words, not, as portrayed in the film, a mindless wretch to be blamed for every friction.
The real Peter Sellers exists, and endures, in the hearts and minds of those who truly knew him well and the millions of people whose lives he has illuminated-and continues to. New explorations and appreciations of his art should be cultivated and encouraged, rather than an exploitation and minimization of the man.
PETER SELLERS APPRECIATION SOCIETY