De-Lovely – Q&A with Kevin McNally

Meet Kevin McNally, talking to Bridget Osborne about the Cole Porter bio-pic shot in Chiswick and his career in film and TV

Kevin McNally’s TV and film career started in 1976, with a part in I Claudius, the BBC drama which made such a huge impact back in the days when we all watched the same things at the same time (currently available to watch again on iPlayer).

Since then he has made some 36 films and 60 TV series as well as radio and theatre appearances and video games. He is best known for the role of Joshamee Gibbs in Pirates of the Caribbean – in five films spanning 20 years.

A long term Chiswick resident, he is always busy and seems if anything to be getting busier, so we are especially pleased that he is able to join us on Sunday night, 1 October, for the grand finale of the festival – a screening of the Cole Porter bio-pic De-Lovely, which features sequences shot in the gardens of Chiswick House and in which he has a part (a singing part, no less).

I will be talking to him not just about that film, but about his career as a whole, after the screening of De-Lovely at 7.30pm.

Image above: De Lovely filming at Chiswick House & Gardens; photograph Dennis Firminger

De-Lovely (2004), directed by Irwin Winkler, tells the story of the life and career of the American composer and songwriter Cole Porter, from his first meeting with his wife, Linda Lee Thomas, until his death in 1964.

Known for his witty lyrics and upbeat tunes, Cole Porter’s songs became popular in the 1930s and ’40s through Broadway musicals, with classics such as Let’s Do It, Let’s Fall in Love from the musical Paris, Begin the Beguine from the musical comedy Jubilee and It’s De-Lovely from the stage musical Red, Hot and Blue.

Unlike many successful Broadway composers, Porter wrote the lyrics as well as the music for his songs. After a serious horseback riding accident in 1937, he was left disabled and in constant pain, but he continued to work. His most successful shows had mainly been in the 1920s and ’30s, though he made a triumphant comeback in 1948 with Kiss Me Kate.

It is a tribute to the popularity of his work that many of his musicals, such as Anything Goes, are still performed (there was a production of Anything Goes at the Barbican only last year).

Born in 1891, Cole Porter met his wife Linda Lee Thomas in 1918 and they married the following year. She realised he was gay, but the marriage was convenient for both of them and they remained devoted until her death in 1954.

He was born into money and made more with his own success, and was known for his extravagant lifestyle. His story is told in the film as a series of flashbacks as he lies on his deathbed.

Kevin McNally will be talking about this film and others from his prolific career, to the editor of The Chiswick Calendar, Bridget Osborne, after the screening of De-Lovely at 7.30pm on Sunday 1 October.

The Chiswick In Film Festival, which was started in 2022, is a celebration of Chiswick’s connections with the film industry – both as a location for sequences in many films and TV series and as a place where many people working in the industry call home. Kevin and his family are long term residents of Chiswick. He is married to actor Phyllis Logan (Downton Abbey).

The film festival is a joint collaboration between The Chiswick Calendar and Chiswick Cinema, and Chiswick based film professionals Andrea Carnevali and Rob Sprackling.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar