Synopsis by Mark Deming
The often-troubled life of one of the greatest comic actors in the history of the British cinema provides the basis for this biopic. Peter Sellers (Geoffrey Rush) was raised by a domineering mother (Miriam Margolyes) and meek father (Peter Vaughan), and at an early age discovered he liked to hide behind the emotional curtain of playing a character. In time, Sellers put this skill to use as an actor, and discovered he had a great gift for comedy. In the late '50s, Sellers rose to fame on the wildly popular radio series The Goon Show alongside Spike Milligan (Edward Tudor Pole) and Harry Secombe (Steve Pemberton), but as his success on radio gave way to stardom on the big screen, Sellers' ego began to get the better of him. While working on a film with Sophia Loren (Sonia Aquino), Sellers fell in love with the great Italian beauty, and eventually left his wife Anne (Emily Watson) to pursue her; when it became clear that Loren wanted nothing to do with him, Sellers fell into an affair with her stand-in instead. Professionally, Sellers career hits a new high when he agrees to take a role in a picture being directed by American filmmaker Blake Edwards (John Lithgow) called The Pink Panther, and personally he finds a new love with the beautiful Britt Ekland (Charlize Theron). But Sellers' mood swings eventually put paid to their marriage, and while he finds commercial success as a funnyman onscreen, he achieves little in the way of happiness or respect. Produced for the American premium cable service HBO, The Life and Death of Peter Sellers was screened in competition at the 2004 Cannes Film Festival.
actor, rise-to-fame, show-business, comedian