Tom Hollander and Andrew Davies on Dylan Thomas

‘The wobble gets people’ said Tom Hollander, comparing Dylan Thomas to….Adele, of all people. She would probably appreciate that, not sure about him. Thomas’s unique voice was a big topic of discussion today: Hollander said he had to tone it down as it was too ‘fruity’ for modern ears.

Hollander has just played Thomas in ‘A Poet In New York,’ scripted by Davies. Clips from the film were shown during the talk, and the podgy, retching, pasty Thomas on-screen was hardly recognisable from the tanned real life Hollander. He tried to put the weight on sensibly to avoid getting diabetes but in the end just gave up and ate chips.

It’s hard to dramatise the descent of an alcoholic which is basically dull as well as horrible to watch so Davies had to contrast the beauty of his words with the ugliness of his actions. Dylan is well known for being the great poet of mortality, but he was also described as one of the best writers on being young, falling in love and getting drunk. Hollander said his favourite line from the film was in response to a doctor who told him to stop drinking or he would die. Thomas’s answer (in Davies’s line) was ‘but we’re all dying aren’t we.’ True of course but as Hollander also said, ‘it’s not too long and easy to remember.’

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