Before Douglas Booth Played Nikki Sixx, He Played Boy George
British actor Douglas Booth will be seen as Nikki Sixx in the upcoming Motley Crue biopic The Dirt, which premieres on Netflix on March 22. But it’s not the first time he’s played a musician in makeup.
In 2010, Booth played British pop star Boy George in the drama Worried About the Boy, which followed George’s rise to fame via a series of difficult relationships with his male lovers, his connection with Sex Pistols impresario Malcolm McLaren and his success with ‘80s band Culture Club.
Worried About the Boy was Booth’s first major role; he was just 17. “I had to be kind of brave because they knocked my eyebrows off, and I had to go see all my mates looking like a bug,” he told Harper’s Bazaar in 2015. “I read his biography; I spent time with George; I got to wear his original clothes he'd made, like those leather jackets he'd customized and put a thousand safety pins in. Nothing quite like that to get you in the head space of that character.”
He recalled his first meeting with George as “amazing – and bizarre.” “I remember the first time he visited the set was about halfway through filming," he recalled. "By that time, I had really become this character. I was working so hard, so there was no time to go out or become me at the end of the day. It was get home, sleep, wake up, be the character. I was actually living the character for the period we were shooting it. I remember being genuinely confused about how Boy could be on the other side of the room, while I was standing there. It was like looking at my future.”
Watch Douglas Booth in ‘Worried About the Boy’ Trailer
George recalled similar feelings, telling the BBC in 2010 that he'd "seen pictures of Douglas and thought, ‘He’s really beautiful but he doesn't look like me.’ But when I saw him in the gear, I was like, ‘Oh my God, he really does look like me!’ It's so weird. … It was really creepy looking across the room thinking, ‘He really does look like me.’”
He said Booth’s performance was “amazing." “I watched it on my own to start with," he noted. "I don't know what I was expecting it to be and I thought I might horrified but it really made me laugh. … Somehow he has the stink of me! He just gets it. There's something about him that reminds me of me when I was 17. … I think not many people can pull off those kind of looks. They're quite individual – not many people can wear a yellow face and make it look pretty. So it's a triumph. I was really impressed with his acting.”
Both actor and musician recalled the one moment when George criticized a scene that was being shot. “I walk into the girls' bathroom for a pee,” Booth said, “because back then, the men had so much more extravagant outfits and makeup that the the men's toilets were completely blocked, and the women's was clear. I went into the stall and sort of kicked the toilet seat up and peed, and George was shouting from behind the monitor, ‘I never peed standing up! I’d always sit down!’”
George said, “He’s standing up and I said, ‘Oh, I wouldn’t have stood up!’ But that was about it really. I didn't interfere with what they were doing because it was very nice up there, and when I saw what they were doing, I was really impressed by it.”
Watch Douglas Booth in ‘The Dirt’ Trailer
While Booth, now 26, will be seen with a bass guitar when he plays Sixx in The Dirt, his main instrument in real life is the trumpet – though he admitted in 2016 that he hadn’t found time to play it as often as he’d like.
“I played it for five minutes and realized I wasn't as good as I used to be and put it down," he said. "I used to practice every single day, and my music teacher would say, ‘If you don't practice for a day, you'll notice. If you don't practice for two days, I'll notice. If you don't practice for three days, everyone will notice.’”