Christopher Eccleston at Comic Con in 2019
Christopher Eccleston has claimed he turned down the chance to appear in the film Billy Elliot as he found the initial script “offensive”.
In the past, the former Doctor Who star has spoken candidly about his own working class upbringing, and lamented the difficulties faced by people of similar backgrounds when it comes to breaking into the entertainment industry.
During a new interview with The Independent, Christopher shared how his own parents had supported him in pursuing a career in acting, admitting he was “tired of seeing working-class parents portrayed as being vehemently against their kids going into the arts”.
Referring to Billy Elliot as “that fucking ballet film everyone went mad for”, he added: “I was offered a meeting to play the father. But I said I’m not going to do that, it’s offensive.”
Julie Walters and Billy Elliot won acclaim for their performances in Billy Elliot
In Billy Elliot, the title character’s father takes issue when he learns that his son has been secretly attending ballet classes, rather than boxing training.
Christopher noted that he felt the film represented “a middle-class view of the working-class experience, made for the American market”.
“Fuck it!” he concluded.
Gary Lewis eventually landed the part of Jackie Elliot in the film, which also starred Jamie Bell and Julie Walters, the latter of whom earned an Oscar nomination for her performance.
Jamie Bell and Gary Lewis in Billy Elliot
Both Jamie and Julie scooped Baftas for their performances in Billy Eliot, while Gary Lewis picked up a Bafta nomination.
In the same interview, Christopher shared one of his more troubling on-set experiences, when a female A-lister falsely implied that he he had “copped a feel” when they were filming a sex scene.
“I’ve never felt more betrayed by a fellow actor than I did that day,” he recalled.