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It took six years from that first meeting to the cameras rolling in Belfast (chosen because it looks more like Dublin in the Seventies than Dublin does now).The movie business can be so soul destroying, it makes rock-and-roll look easy.But somewhere around the 10th rewrite, new issues emerged. The truth is, I never actually thought they were going to get it off the ground.“The problem with your life, darling,” Nick told me, “is that there’s no third act.” “That is because it’s a life, Nick,” I pointed out. “We’re going to give you one.” Film is a very different medium to the written word. The first time I saw a screen test of an actor playing me I wanted to crawl out of the room.Ben Barnes is among the most handsome, charismatic young leading men in Britain.He played Prince Caspian in the Narnia Chronicles, for goodness sake.And so began my personal odyssey through the world of rock and roll, 13 years of missed chances, blown deals, bad judgement and worse luck.
“If you want your life back, you’ll have to kill me,” he laughed. “I know a lot of people who would wear that T-shirt.” He took to calling and leaving messages on my answer machine: “Neil, it’s Bono. Nick Hamm contacted me after my book came out in 2003 to say that he wanted to option the film rights.It was as if a chasm in time had ripped open and was about to swallow me up when, mercifully, a voice called “cut”, the music stopped, the band froze, and a different thrum of chatter and activity filled the room. Most people who have films made about them have done something worthwhile, or at least of historical significance. All I did was fail, repeatedly, abjectly and quite unheroically. I have been immortalised in celluloid as a total loser. I was convinced it was my destiny to become a world-beating rock star.As my narrow point of focus pulled back to take in the cameras, lights and microphones of the film set, a creamy English voice broke through the action, bringing me back to Earth. I had it all mapped out: the concept albums, the sci-fi world tours, first band on the moon.This may have been pretty much how I always saw myself, but I am not sure everyone agreed with this assessment.I said to Nick, “With his looks and my talent we could have gone far.” Nick said: “It’s OK, he’s playing you as a kind of supergeek.