Don’t expect Sting to be next in line for a big-screen biopic. “Absolutely not,” the 68-year-old rock legend says of getting the Rocketman treatment. “I’m telling my story in an artistic way.”
You stepped in as a performer in the Broadway version.
I did. It’s a difficult subject. It’s not your standard Broadway [fare]— you know, they usually do fairy tales or Disney [adaptations]. This is the most difficult thing to do — an original musical about a serious subject. So we had trouble selling tickets and then the producers said, “You have to go in the play.” I had no intention of going in the play. But I agreed, and when I did I was very happy that I’d done it because I felt, well, one, I could do it. And two, it was so much fun. Even though the subject is a serious matter, it’s actually really fun.
Does acting feel comfortable to you?
I acted almost by accident, but I’ve made lots of movies. The last time I was in a play was on Broadway in the ’80s. I played Mack the Knife in Threepenny Opera. I’ve learned a lot on the job. I’ve also acted with some amazing actors. When you work with the best, you get a lot of gifts.
How do the vocal requirements compare between a Sting rock show and a musical like The Last Ship?
Well, I wrote this character for a baritone. I didn’t write it for me.
What are you?
I’m a tenor. So I’m exploring the lower registers of my voice, which aren’t normally explored in my rock show. But I actually find it a little less athletic. I can sing more in this range.
Do you mind if I throw out a few of your movies and see what memories they bring up?
Quadrophenia was the first movie I did. I was in it long enough to make an impression, but not long enough to blow it.
How did you get cast in that?
Just by going along to an audition and having the right look.
Were you the character you played in it — a mod “It” boy?
I was slightly too young to be a mod. But I remember the era. I was 12 when the mods were happening. But I had the right look.
And were you in a band at that point?
Yeah, I was in The Police. But we hadn’t broken yet. And then our first hit coincided with the opening of Quadrophenia in London — so it was a perfect storm. It vaulted me into super fame very quickly. Luckily I was 26 or 27 at the time, so it wasn’t like I was a teenage sensation. I was a school teacher, so I had my feet on the ground, as it were. Otherwise I think I would’ve gone crazy.
How did you adjust to rock stardom?
My intention was always to be a musician. That’s what’s written on my passport. That’s what I am. I doesn’t say “star,” it doesn’t say “celebrity.” I’m actually a musician. I take my profession very seriously. So fame and the blandishments of fame are secondary to my main purpose. I don’t take it that seriously. I enjoy the attention most of the time and I can cope with it. I exercise my citizens’ rights. I walk everywhere, wherever I am, alone. I don’t have an entourage. People are very respectful. I don’t invite hysteria. I’m also able to look after myself if they don’t.
Next movie: Dune.
I got the wonderful opportunity to work with David Lynch quite early in his career. I think it was only his third movie, after Eraserhead and The Elephant Man. So I was a fan. And David was casting a look more than my Shakespearian acting quality. So he created this character called Feyd. I had to wear these outrageous costumes. It was fun. We were in Mexico City for what seemed like forever in 100-degree heat wearing rubber suits. It was a bonding experience.
Sting shared a statement condemning the Brazilian government’s response — or lack thereof — to the devastating fires raging across the Amazon rainforest.
Sting wrote, “Populist leaders citing nationalist agendas, or claiming that climate change and its handmaidens are a hoax, are guilty of much more than standing by and doing nothing. This is criminal negligence on a global scale.”
He continued, “Amazonia is on fire at an unprecedented rate – 80% up from last year and with 39% more deforestation – and the world is suddenly taking notice. This is no place for the outdated bromides of nationalism in a world where we all breathe the same air and where we will all suffer the consequences of this willful negligence.”
Legend has it that the Emperor Nero “fiddled while Rome burned”. While obviously bristling at the dubious factoid that…
He added, “Calling Amazonia the ‘lungs of the Earth’ may not be exactly anatomically correct, but it does convey that it is a vital and irreplaceable link in the chain of wellbeing on our planet in the increasingly narrow band of climatic vectors where human life can survive. We simply cannot afford to let it burn.
In a note posted on Facebook, the musician heavily criticized President Jair Bolsonaro, a climate change skeptic who has expressed contempt for the indigenous people of Amazonia, opened up the Amazon to deforestation and commercial exploitation and downplayed the global reaction to the ongoing fires. As The New York Times reported, Bolsonaro also rejected a $22 million aid package to help fight the fires that French president Emmanuel Macron announced at the Group of 7 meeting (Bolsonaro later backtracked slightly, saying he’d be open to accepting the offer if Macron took back “insults made to my persons” and insinuations that Brazil doesn’t have sovereignty over the Amazon).