The stars of new Take That musical ‘Greatest Days’ didn’t realise they were in the running to be part of the film’s boy band when they initially turned up to audition.
Hitting cinemas on Friday, June 16, the movie follows four former schoolgirls who had their lives changed at a concert by their favourite boy band, and then reunite 25 years later to reminisce on their memories.
Featuring the music of the nineties heartthrobs – including classics such as Could It Be Magic, Never Forget and Pray, along with recent staples like Patience, Shine and the title song – the onscreen band, although not strictly Take That, is heavily based on the group with several nods to their look and visuals throughout.
Speaking exclusively to RETROPOP, Aaron Bryan, Dalvin Cory, Joshua Jung, Mervin Noronha, Mark Samaras open up about their involvement in the project, with Mervin laughing: “I didn’t realise it was a job because I was in my second year at uni and they came in to do a workshop, so I thought they were coming to test out something for the actual industry.
“It was just a fun vibe – which is the best way to do an audition – and then a couple of weeks later I got an email for a recall and I didn’t even know what it was about.”
Mark was also none the wiser when he auditioned, believing he was up for an ensemble role. “It wasn’t until the final round when Coky [Giedroyc, director] specifically said, ‘We’ve auditioned 5,000 boys for these five roles, we’re looking for the five boys to be the boy band,’ that I realised. But I think that helped the process, because I went in like it was just another job…”
The final line-up was selected in February 2020 – weeks before the world went into lockdown as the Covid-19 pandemic took hold. Although filming had to be postponed, the boys bonded in a WhatsApp group chat which provided them a support network to get through the challenging time.
“We were in the group chat every day, hoping and praying that we were going to shoot this film at some point,” laughs Dalvin. “So we basically had almost two years to get to know each other before we got on set and it was actually the biggest support system ever. These four boys – without them, Covid would have been completely different.”
Aged in their early- to mid-20s, Take That’s nineties heyday had been and gone by the time the boys in the movie arrived, but they’ve all witnessed the band’s phenomenal comeback, including the original line-up reunion in 2010 starring Gary Barlow, Mark Owen, Jason Orange, Howard Donald and Robbie Williams.
But Aaron knows them better than most, having been a dancer with the group – now featuring Gary, Mark and Howard – back in 2018. “It was a bit weird for me,” he laughs. “When we met them, they were talking about the roles and it was almost like I’d gone from dancing behind them on stage to becoming them. It was quite strange!”
The trio – who appear on screen in their own special cameo and even give an impromptu performance – visited the set during filming in Athens, Greece, where they filmed footage for the upcoming ITV documentary ‘30 Years in the Making’, with Josh adding: “They were pretty complimentary of us, weren’t they? I think Gary said something like we were the better looking, younger versions of Take That.”
As they prepare to unleash ‘Greatest Days’ into the world, the boys are in agreement that the process has given them a newfound respect for Take That and the stamina involved in their high-energy live performances. “Everybody was dancing, singing… everything was a big performance,” says Aaron. “Anything you watch, it was a full-on performance in every aspect!”
Mervin adds: “That’s the thing in the nineties, all of the artists could dance, they were putting on a show and they had the whole package. If you look at old-school Chris Brown or TLC or the Spice Girls, they were all real artists.”
But when it came to perfecting their act as a group, the boys insist finding their own groove is the key to their onscreen chemistry. “What I took away from the film was that, although we are resembling Take That in the sense that we are singing their songs and wearing their costumes, we had to find our own boy band,” explains Mark. “And that’s why it works.
“Take That are so loved because they’re really close knit and have so much fun on stage and I think because Drew [McOnie, Choreographer] and Coky really let the five of us find our own kind of rhythm as a group of five, we all got our own places to shine and felt like a really tight knit group.”
He adds: “If you’re working with people that you love and you’re doing something that you love, you’re going to create something that you love. Whether the film is received well or not, no one knows until it’s out, but we could leave the process and be really proud of what we did, because we created something really magical between the five of us.”
‘Greatest Days’, starring Aisling Bea, Alice Lowe, Jayde Adams, Amaka Okafor, is out now.
Read the full interview in the August 2023 edition of RETROPOP, out now. Order yours or subscribe via our Online Store, use our Store Finder to locate your nearest stockist, or get Digital Copies delivered direct to your devices.