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The Life and Death of Peter Sellers (2004)

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The feature adaptation of Roger Lewis' book about the actor best remembered as Inspector Clouseau in the Pink Panther movies.

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(book), (teleplay), 1 more credit »
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Title: The Life and Death of Peter Sellers (2004)

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Anne Sellers
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Peg Sellers
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Bill Sellers
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Dennis Selinger
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Casting Agent
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Ted Levy
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Dr. Lyle Wexler
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Spike Milligan (as Edward Tudor Pole)
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Storyline

The professional and personal life of actor and comedian Peter Sellers was a turbulent one. His early movie fame was based primarily on his comic characterizations, often of bumbling and foreign-accented persons, characters which he embodied. As his movie fame rose, he began to lose his own personal identity to his movie characters, leading to self-doubt of himself as a person and a constant need for reassurance and acceptance of his work. This self-doubt manifested itself in fits of anger and what was deemed as arrogance by many. In turn, his personal relationships began to deteriorate as his characterizations were continually used to mask his problems. His first wife, Anne Howe, left/divorced him and his relationships with his parents and children became increasingly distant. His relationship with his second wife, Swedish actress Britt Ekland, was based on this mask. In his later life, he tried to rediscover himself and his career with what would become his penultimate film role, ... Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

actor | death | clouseau | fame | peter sellers | See more »

Taglines:

Life is being someone else. (UK) See more »


Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

|

Language:

Release Date:

1 October 2004 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

A Vida e Morte de Peter Sellers  »

Box Office

Opening Weekend:

£125,748 (UK) (1 October 2004)

Gross:

£259,663 (UK) (8 October 2004)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Although the scenes featuring Emilia Fox's performance as Sellers' fourth wife Lynn Frederick were left out of the final cut, Fox is still visible in the background of the scene showing the filming of a scene from "Being There." She is the blonde woman standing behind the cameraman and crew behind Peter Sellers/Geoffrey Rush. In a deleted scene on the DVD there is a continuation of this scene. After the take is over, Lynn tries to talk to Sellers, but he remains in character of the simpleton Chance. See more »

Goofs

In the scene where Peter Sellers is working out, he is not wearing glasses. But in the next shot, while talking to Britt Ekland, he is suddenly mysteriously wearing the glasses. See more »

Quotes

[On their honeymoon]
Peter Sellers: Are you sure you're my wife?
Britt Ekland: What do you mean?
Peter Sellers: Because no wife should be that good in the sack.
See more »

Crazy Credits

The frame freezes and the end credits start. After some informations about the last part of life of Peter Sellers have scrolled up the screen, the credits stop and the camera suddenly pulls back, revealing Geoffrey Rush watching the end titles sitting in front of a monitor on a studio set. He turns toward the camera, waves, gets up, leaves the set and walks to a trailer. The camera tries to follow him inside, but he turns and says "You can't come in here". The door closes, and the camera zooms in on the sign with the name "Peter Sellers". The film again fades to black and we see the rest of the end credits. See more »

Connections

References Being There (1979) See more »

Soundtracks

Should I Stay or Should I Go
Written by Joe Strummer and Mick Jones
Performed by The Clash
See more »

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User Reviews

Not worthy of its great subject
16 June 2005 | by (Brick, NJ) – See all my reviews

It might be impossible to capture every aspect of a man's life in a two-hour film (A & E Biography frequently fails at this in the one-hour format with the bigger stars) while giving everything its proper weight. Peter Sellers' life is of such extraordinary dimensions that "The Life and Death of Peter Sellers" even fails at being a scrapbook. This is not necessarily the film's fault; the movie is mostly well-cast (only John Lithgow as Blake Edwards didn't seem quite right) and beautiful to look at, from the opening credits on.

The movie serves mostly as a sampler of Sellers' oddball behavior. Incidents are selected from his life (or slightly fabricated) to stand for the whole; one slap across Britt Ekland's face is meant to represent a lifetime of spousal abuse, but those unfamiliar with Sellers personal life will assume that he was merely temperamental off-camera. In fact, it doesn't even come close to the truth: Anne Sellers reported that Peter once fought her for 14 hours straight (she took a nap in between) and Britt says Peter pointed a loaded gun at her in Rome, only capitulating after she told him 'if you shoot me, you'll ruin your own career'. His mistreatment of his family is grossly underweighted compared to such trivial items as Sellers not quite getting the Texas accent required for the bomber role in Dr. Strangelove, then faking a broken leg to Kubrick so he wouldn't be able to climb the ladder to the elevated cockpit on the movie set and avoid having to admit his failure with the voice. Other things are not clearly explained; for instance, that the "clairvoyant" Maurice Woodruff was in the employ of the movie studios to get Sellers to do the pictures they wanted him to do, or the fantasy sequence after his seven consecutive heart attacks in LA, which relates to Sellers insisting that he had an out-of-body experience during he time his heart stopped. The asides to the camera by the Kubrick and Bill Sellers characters, and Sellers (in funny voices) indicate the director straining for depth; perhaps a documentary on Sellers' life would have been better.

On the plus side, Geoffrey Rush is nothing short of superb as Sellers. Everything about Sellers seems exactly right, including the voice, which is no small feat, since I don't think Sellers is all that doable. The voice certainly wouldn't be recognized as Sellers if done out of context, say, as a stage impersonation, yet it works, even though I can't really recall what Sellers' actual voice did sound like. (It was this lack of personality that made him such a great instrument for creating characters) Charlize Theron is also a dead ringer for Britt, though she's not given much to do.

This movie is mostly for Peter Sellers enthusiasts, like myself, who can pick out the obscure trivia (like the Texas accent sequence), explain it to other people and feel superior. The movie isn't bad, really; its extremely well-acted and well-crafted, but it fails miserably at explaining the man. Why was he the way he was? How does one reconcile his genius with his brutality and selfishness. Sellers is of such depth and magnitude that a two-hour movie just doesn't cut it. For a true picture of the man, I would recommend the Roger Lewis book on which the movie is "based", Ed Sikov's more sympathetic biography on Sellers, and Michael Sellers' memoir "P.S. I Love You". Sellers once described himself as being an "empty vessel", a body through which one of his great characters came to life. I feel the same way about this movie.


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