Breaking Baz: ‘Priscilla, Queen Of The Desert’ Movie Sequel Readying To Shoot With Original Stars; ‘Maurice’s Jubilee’ Update; Love’s Labour Not Lost On ‘Bridgerton’s Luke Thompson

EXCLUSIVE: Stephan Elliott, who directed the celebrated cult classic The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, tells this column that a sequel “is happening” and that the original movie’s stars Terence Stamp, Guy Pearce and Hugo Weaving are back “on board” 30 years after the film’s initial release.

“I’m not repeating myself, we’ll start the new film in Australia, but by God, we’re going on one helluva journey,” Elliott reveals.

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“The original cast is on board, I’ve got a script that everybody likes, we’re still working out deals. … It’s happening,” he adds with brio.

Since it played a midnight screening in Un Certain Regard at the 1994 Cannes Film Festival, Priscilla has become a byword for glittering, extravagant excess. That was a party night to remember; except I was there and all I can remember is getting back to my hotel at 6 a.m.

The film, about a transsexual and two drag queens (played by Stamp, Pearce and Weaving, respectively) who set off from Sydney in an old-school bus the trio dubbed Priscilla to perform to disco golden oldies and ABBA hits in the almost treeless, scorching desert plains of southern Australia while sheathed in glamorous frocks and bejeweled headgear atop their wigs, has enjoyed a mammoth crossover audience that has increased in the intervening years as new generations have discovered the movie.

(L-R) Terence Stamp, Hugo Weaving and Guy Pearce in 1994’s ‘Priscilla, Queen of the Desert’
(L-R) Terence Stamp, Hugo Weaving and Guy Pearce in 1994’s ‘Priscilla, Queen of the Desert’

With the mainstream success of TV shows like RuPaul’s Drag Race, it’s probably difficult for some to comprehend how revolutionary it seemed three decades ago for drag artistry to feature in a movie that wasn’t just being marketed to a niche LGBTQ audience. Elliott and his associates saw a way of enticing “the straight audience as well.”

Elliott says that for years he was resistant to making a follow-up film. ”I just was not sure, I just didn’t want to repeat myself,” he stressed.

“I thought, what am I going to do? Stick them on a cruise ship, stick them on a train? You name it, over the years I’ve been pitched Priscilla 2 in spades.”

Five years ago he began toying around with the idea of a sequel, but it took the death of his parents — his father and his mother died within two years of each other — plus the pandemic to focus his mind.

Their passing hit Elliott hard, but his fond memories of them spurred his creativity. “I was writing and configuring after dad died in early 2020,” he says. ”Then mum died in early 2023. It was a tough one, and so I finally realized that I do have something to write about.”

The new story brings back Bernadette, Stamp’s character; Adam/Felicia, the roles played by Pearce; and Tick/Mitzi, the parts assumed by Weaving.

(L-R) Guy Pearce, Terence Stamp and Hugo Weaving in ‘Priscilla’
(L-R) Guy Pearce, Terence Stamp and Hugo Weaving in ‘Priscilla’

Tick’s character in the 1994 film had a 7-year-old son. “Well, he’s grown up now,” says Elliott. “Therefore I’ve written in a bunch of new characters to support a new generation.”

He says the new movie will feature “old disco classics, but we’ll be moving into contemporary as well.”

Elliott mentions the new Priscilla the Party! show that recently opened in the HERE at the Outernet in the heart of the West End. It has a 4 a.m. liquor license, “so what we’ve done now is just add alcohol.”

He notes that “the crowd goes ballistic over Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way,” so Gaga numbers are a possibility for the new movie. “We’ve got to move with the times,” he adds.

PolyGram backed and propelled the original film and Gramercy distributed it; both entities have folded. MGM holds some rights, as do some other enterprises including the Australian Film Finance Corporation and the New South Wales Film & Television Office. Al Clark was the picture’s producer and Rebel Penford-Russell was an executive producer. “The bottom line is that I’ve just had everybody to the table and we’re hammering out the deal now just so everybody’s happy,” Elliott says.

Stamp’s now 85, and Elliott says he wants to get a wriggle on and “get it happening, get it shooting this year. Actually, as soon as possible.”

For several years, the 1976 Japanese-made bus, called Priscilla for the movie and which was rented during the filming in 1993, disappeared. It surfaced at a property in New South Wales but was damaged by wildfire and floods. However, the History Trust of South Australia took possession of it a year ago and launched a fundraising effort to restore it.

Priscilla the bus, at right, following bush fires and floods in New South Wales
Priscilla the bus, at right, following bush fires and floods in New South Wales

“I don’t know how it survived but we have a plan,” says Elliott. “Don’t worry, the bus will feature.”

Also, says Elliott, about a year ago he and his colleagues began the task of remastering for the first time and remixing the print for 30th anniversary screenings in theaters around this summer’s Pride week.

“It’s the 30th anniversary, the bus has been found, Priscilla the Party! is about to roll out globally and it’s time for Priscilla’s final adventure to get made,” he says.

He will serve as director, writer and producer, though he intends to partner with another producer.

Elliott spoke with me after I reached him at his home in Portugal. Although he confirmed the sequel, he says an official announcement will be made soon once various negotiations are completed.

He would love to welcome back original creatives, “but it has to do with their availability.”

The Oscar-winning Priscilla costumiers Tim Chappel and Lizzy Gardiner also collaborated with Elliott on Priscilla the Party!

Julian Glover & Susan Hampshire Ready For Their Close-Up With ‘Maurice’s Jubilee’

On the topic of actors of a certain age wanting to get on with projects, there’s also the case of Julian Glover (Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Game of Thrones) now 89, and 86-year-old Susan Hampshire (The Forsyte Saga, Vanity Fair) who are keen to get cameras rolling as soon as possible on a movie called Maurice’s Jubilee.

It’s based on an award-winning play by Nichola McAuliffe about a master jeweler who meets the young Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace when he goes to collect the Crown Jewels the night before the coronation in 1953. They have a cup of tea and make a promise to meet again for another cuppa on the eve of her majesty’s Diamond Jubilee.

McAuliffe has adapted her story for the screen and it has been developed as a feature by director Nicholas Connor. The aim is to shoot both on-location and in a virtual production studio.

Hampshire will play Helena, Maurice’s wife.

(L-R) Susan Hampshire, Nicholas Connor, Nichola McAuliffe and Julian Glover (seated)
(L-R) Susan Hampshire, Nicholas Connor, Nichola McAuliffe and Julian Glover (seated)

The movie spans several decades, so clearly younger actors will be cast to play Maurice and Helena in earlier years. “But we need to get going,” says McAuliffe. “Julian and Susan aren’t getting any younger and are keen to get in front of the cameras,” she adds, noting that the production is seeking funding to get the cameras rolling.

Love’s Labour’s Not Lost On ‘Bridgerton’s Luke Thompson

Bridgerton star Luke Thompson reveals an appetite for for high jinks and tomfoolery as Berowne, the King of Navarre’s chief attendant and fellow scholar who, along with two fellow young lords, promises to forswear women for three years.

This is Shakespeare’s early romantic comedy Love’s Labour’s Lost, and Thompson provides just the right comic touch to pull it off. He and his fellow castmates seem very much at home in director Emily Burns’ version, which she places in a swanky spa called Navarre nestled on a South Pacific island.

Luke Thompson in ‘Love’s Labour’s Lost’
Luke Thompson in ‘Love’s Labour’s Lost’

It’s the perfect curtain raiser for the Royal Shakespeare Company’s new co-artistic directors Daniel Evans and Tamara Harvey, who opened Burns’ production at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon on Thursday night.

The choice of play was smart. For starters it made sense to open with a Shakespeare. Would have been a bit daft to present a Noel Coward. And that it’s one of the Bard’s lighter works rather then one of his tragedies is a good thing. There’s time enough in future seasons for heavies like Lear and Macbeth.

Royal Shakespeare Company co-artistic directors Daniel Evans and Tamara Harvey
Royal Shakespeare Company co-artistic directors Daniel Evans and Tamara Harvey

Thompson also shows off his romantic chops to good effect in Season 3 of Bridgerton.

(L-R) Brandon Bassir, Luke Thompson, Abiola Owokoniran and Eric Stroud in ‘Love’s Labour’s Lost’
(L-R) Brandon Bassir, Luke Thompson, Abiola Owokoniran and Eric Stroud in ‘Love’s Labour’s Lost’

Fellow actors in Love’s Labour’s Lost include Abiola Owokoniran, Eric Stroud, Brandon Bassir, Jack Bardot, Melanie-Joyce Bermudez, Ivanna Kimbook, Amy Griffiths, Sarita Gabon, Jordan Metcalfe, Jeffrey Chekai, Tony Gardner, Kok-Hwa -Lie, Nathan Foad, Marianella Phillips, Jeffrey Chekai, Shailan Gohil, Tika Mu’Tamir and Jamie Tyler.

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