The Life and Death of Peter Sellers
From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
The Life and Death of Peter Sellers is a 2004 film about the life of British comic actor Peter Sellers, based on Roger Lewis's book of the same name. It was directed by Stephen Hopkins and starred Geoffrey Rush as Sellers, Miriam Margolyes as his mother Peg Sellers, Emily Watson as his first wife Anne Howe, Charlize Theron as his second wife Britt Ekland, John Lithgow as Blake Edwards, Stephen Fry as Maurice Woodruff and Stanley Tucci as Stanley Kubrick.
The film shows Peter Sellers as a demented genius, not having a personality of his own. It glimpses his life as a family man and as an actor.
According to the film, Sellers was not excited about landing a role in Pink Panther films, as the Clouseau character was only offered to him after Peter Ustinov turned it down. Also, it upset him that Clouseau was only a minor character, with David Niven's character getting the bulk of the attention. Sellers' performance impressed Blake Edwards, though, and Clouseau was made the central character in the hugely successful sequels.
The Pink Panther films are only a small part of this docudrama, however, as it spans Sellers' career from The Goon Show through Being There. Much emphasis is put on the fact that Being There (which earned him an Oscar nomination) was the one film about which Sellers was truly passionate since it was an opportunity to show off his skills as an actor as opposed to simply a comedian (he also reportedly greatly identified with the main character). Sellers is also shown aspiring to be a leading man in the James Bond satire Casino Royale which prompts ridicule from the film's crew.
Actor Geoffrey Rush stated in interviews that the film was itself structured to be reminiscent of a Peter Sellers film. This included at various times Rush (as Sellers) dressing up to play other characters in his life (several were ultimately edited out, but are included within the special features on the DVD). In these instances he broke the fourth wall to give a monologue to the audience.