Taylor Swift may have stolen the show when she walked the red carpet for the world premiere of the Paul Potts biopic "One Chance" at the Toronto International Film Festival earlier this week, but the opera singer and "Britain's Got Talent" winner who inspired the film insists that he didn't feel overshadowed by the singer's presence. At least not in terms of star power and attention.
"She's so much taller than me!" Potts tells the Huffington Post, every bit as affable and self-effacing as BAFTA-winning actor portrays him in "One Chance."
Besides, he's too pleased with "Sweeter Than Fiction," the original song that Swift wrote and performed for the film to feel slighted. "It's great to have someone of her status involved in the movie, and the song is great. Taylor Swift is a great songwriter, a very tall person in general. But I look small compared to most people, anyway. Well, in height terms, not in other ways," he says with a cheeky nod to his less-than-Hollywood-svelte figure.
Potts, it seems, has approached every part of the process that went into making "One Chance" with the same genial and laissez-faire nature, ever since people starting talking to him about doing a movie based on his life after he won "Britain's Got Talent" in 2007. He was intrigued by the idea, and open to letting filmmakers take on his life story, but wasn't ready to get too excited yet.
"I studied film at university, as well, so I kind of get a bit about the industry. So often, you'll see an idea for a film and 90 per cent of them never, ever happen. So it would be foolhardy to think 'Oh! This is going to get made!'"
When the project finally picked up steam last year, Potts was happy to let director David Frankel and screenwriter Justin Zackham to tell his story the way they saw fit. The singer had a couple of meetings with Zackham, and told the writer whatever details he wanted to know, but Potts was more concerned with the feeling of the story they were telling than verisimilitude.
"The essence of the story is correct. The timeline's a little bit all over the place, but it's a movie. It's not meant to be a literal biography. That's why I've written an autobiography," he says with a smile, and a quick plug for the book, which is expected to come out later this year.
Potts only had one demand when it came to "One Chance": it couldn't be an overwrought drama about a sad sack man who had suffered through bullying, medical issues and creative humiliation before receiving his big break at the hands of a talent show. That's not all that his life was leading up to his big break, and it's certainly not the kind of movie that he thought anyone would want to see.
"I was always determined, right from the start, that I wanted the movie to be a comedy. I wanted it to be something that would make people feel good, feel happy and make them laugh, but make them feel some of the poignant moments as well. When I’ve watched movies, when you have the sad moments, you need something else to balance against that, because you don’t want people walking out feeling sorry for the main character. That’s not what you want at the end of it. You want them to be with the character.”
"One Chance" certainly made the singer's wife Jules laugh when the pair visited the set, although not necessarily for the right reasons or at the most appropriate time.
"Jules and I went to watch them film the wedding scene. We sat next to David Frankel, and he was pointing at Jules because Jules had tears streaming out of her eyes. And he said 'Oh, look! She’s so moved.' I said, 'I know Jules better than you. She is not crying out of emotion. She's crying with laughter.'
"And she was. She was just laughing her head off. They had to stop filming at one point. It was just unbelievably surreal. There was James and Alexandra [Roach] walking down the aisle as us and there we were, sitting in the church and watching them. It was just bizarre."