Crocodile Shoes Still Fit After Walk With Evita
By John McKay
TORONTO - JIMMY Nail is back in his crocodile shoes.
And his TV fans are shedding tears of joy.
Nail is the rough-hewn Brit actor-singer-writer who
won a loyal international following, first with his offbeat
police drama Spender, then with the 1995 mini-series Crocodile
The original BBC six-parter was repeated on cable's Showcase
recently, in advance of this week's debut of Crocodile Shoes II:
(Wednesday, 9 p.m., Showcase).
It s the story of Jed Shepperd, a working-class stiff from Newcastle
who dreams of being, of all things, a country-music performer. Although
soft-spoken, shy and incredibly decent, Shepperd is actually a talented
song-writer and musician. And by the end of the first series he had a
breaktrough record hit and was well on his way to becoming a bona fide
star. Incidentally, Nail's recordings of Jed's soundtrack songs have been
hitting the real-life charts in Britain, too.
Nail fans can be forgiven for wondering, therefore, how far reality
might go in imitating art. In Crocodile Shoes, Jed's encounter with a
Nashville superstar ends badly when he naively rejects her advances
and he has to flee America. Meanwhile, between filming the two
mini-series, Nail was chosen by director Alan Parker for a prominent
role in the mega-musical feature Evita.
And in one of the film's early sequences, Nail plays a tango-dancing,
guitar strumming pimp who beds, then dumps young Eva Peron, played of
course by Madonna.
"There's nothing to kiss and tell about," Nail insists of his scenes
with, the blond ambition gal. "Everyone got out there and basically
worked their ass off, and it was an extraordinary adventure."
Nail, as polite and discreet as his Jed character, admits to being
humbled by the Evita company and has hothing but praise for Madonna's
"There are jokes about casting couches and it's not what you know but
who you know, but at the end of the day it's a meritocracy;" says Nail,
who concedes Madona comes with a lot of excess press-rumour baggage.
"Madona had some immensely difficult things to carry off in the studio.
I take my hat off to her, I honestly do."
Nail concedes his own Latin-lover performance might have some of his
friends baek home scratching their heads and wondering what's next.
"I think I've gotten away with it," he says with typical understatement.
Madonna was equally generous with her compliments to Nail at the recent
Golden Globe Awards in Hollywood.
"I went to the party afterwards. She said `I thank you.' and I said `Well, I
thank you for thanking me,' and she said `Well, I thank you for thanking me
for thanking you'. It was very gracious of her, I thought."
Nail confirms that Evita suffered scheduling problems after Madonna
"Things got rearranged and pushed and extended by quite a bit," he says,
"not to mention her costumes."
As a result, Nail left the lavish freight-train of Evita on a Thursday
evening and began work on the considerably more modest Crocodile Shoes II
Friday morning. So which kind of film does he prefer now that he has
tasted the big time?
"Oh well, that's a hard one, isn't it? A hundred-million-dollar worldwide
adventure or else ...? Yeah; I'll get back to you on that one!"
But if Nail's star is ascending, his Crecodile Shoes character is in
serious trouble. As the sequel opens Jed is accused of aIl sorts of crimes.
including the murder of his agent -- he was set up - and he quickiy
plummets from fame and glory to poverty and prison.
Nail is back with Crocodile Shoes II, and the fans are happy.
Note: This article appeared in the Winnipeg Fress Press, Monday,
January 27, 1997. Page C5.
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