Mike Leigh

8th April 2019

British writer and director Mike Leigh joins us to talk about his new historical drama Peterloo and tells us if he’d ever consider making a blockbuster action spy movie.

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Photo:BEN STANSALL/AFP/Getty Images
Mike Leigh on his new film ‘Peterloo’
Mike Leigh is an acclaimed writer and director. His films are honest, touching and real. He has a clear, distinct work ethic guiding all of his films: to draw the realest possible performance out of his actors. It starts with a deep, collaborative study of the character. Followed by a lengthy, collaborative rehearsal process. Leigh made the films Naked, Topsy-Turvy, Secrets & Lies, just to list off a handful.

Mike joins us to discuss his new film Peterloo. It’s a historical drama set in Manchester, in the Northern part of England. Leigh’s hometown. It tells the story of the Peterloo Massacre. If you’re rusty on your English history, here’s a refresher: The Peterloo Massacre took place in 1819. The UK was still recovering from a lengthy war against Napoleon and his allies. The economy faltered, hitting England’s North especially hard.

People were asking for change. Demanding it. And on August 16 that year, they took to the streets for a demonstration. When British authorities tried to arrest one of the speakers, things spiraled out of control quickly. 18 people were killed. Hundreds more injured. Among the dead were women and children.

Mike tells us how he values finding emotional truth in historical films – even if it means fast-forwarding a year or two. Or four.

Peterloo is in theaters now.

Check out this interview on YouTube!

In this episode...

Senior Producer
Maximum Fun Producer
Maximum Fun Production Fellow


  • Mike Leigh

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Bullseye is a celebration of the best of arts and culture in public radio form. Host Jesse Thorn sifts the wheat from the chaff to bring you in-depth interviews with the most revered and revolutionary minds in our culture.

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Senior Producer


Maximum Fun Producer

Maximum Fun Production Fellow

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