| Dylan with Jessica Lange at the Sundance Film Festival. (Reuters)
Jan. 24: It looked a case yesterday of one too many mornings for Bob Dylan, the singer cutting a forlorn figure at the world premiere of the BBC-funded £7 million Masked and Anonymous, his first film in 15 years.
These days, Dylan rarely looks well — and he needed to wrap up warmly in woolly hat and scarf against the cold at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah.
But even diehard fans were shocked by his appearance to promote his part as Jack Fate, a singer on a downward spiral. He had a haunted look and, presumably for the film, had dyed his hair blond.
As ever, Dylan, who will be 62 in May, made a point of not explaining himself. He remained silent as he stood with his co-stars Jessica Lange and Mickey Rourke for a photograph.
He then darted past fans to slip into a cinema for the screening, with fellow actors Penelope Cruz, Bruce Dern, Christian Slater, Val Kilmer and John Goodman. Dylan’s health has been an issue for years. Until now, his battered looks were put down to his hard travelling.
His celebrated “never-ending” tour schedule resumes next month with a trek through Australia and New Zealand.
Much is expected of Masked and Anonymous which has already been snatched up for distribution by Sony, Dylan’s record label. Dumfriesshire-born Nigel Sinclair, 53, the producer, said: “Sony chased it down and asked us if they could take the film on.”
Billed as “a darkly poetic tale of a singer who has fallen from grace”, the film, which also stars Jeff Bridges, Ed Harris and Angela Bassett, has the best cast of a Dylan film since Renaldo and Clara, the 232-minute home movie he shot during his 1976 Rolling Thunder tour.
All the actors have agreed to appear for minimum union rates or for pay deferments.
To make the film, Sinclair set up a new company, Spitfire Productions, which has joined forces with BBC Films to provide the finance. Dylan, using both acoustic and electric guitar, sings more than 40 minutes of songs, including the traditional Dixie, If You See Her, Say Hello, I’ll Remember You and Dirt Road Blues.
Larry Charles, the director, said: “Selling the movie has never been an issue for me. Bob Dylan told me a long time ago, ‘Don’t look at the short term when it comes to this movie’.” He may have been referring to Hearts of Fire, his last film, featuring Rupert Everett, which was a disaster.