Interview: Jonas Åkerlund on his Coldplay videos (pt 2)
12 September 2014 6:34 pm
The legendary director tells us about making True Love
Acclaimed Swedish director Jonas Åkerlund has made the videos for Magic and True Love from Ghost Stories. In the second part of our interview, he tells us about making the True Love promo. Click here to read part one.



Having made the video for Magic, how did the True Love one come about?
Well, between these two videos, we kind of kept in touch. The editing took quite a long time and I also helped them with a campaign for Target.

Ah, did you direct the A Sky Full Of Stars advert?
Yes, exactly. So we stayed in touch and we kept talking and listening to more music and discussing what we could do. And then we started to talk about True Love. And it kind of came about in the same way as Magic did. One thing I said early was that I wanted it to be very different in tone from Magic. But related somehow because it has a story.

Do you prefer your music videos to have a story?
Actually I don’t prefer it, it’s totally what works with that specific moment and song. Obviously Coldplay’s music - at least in my mind - you really listen to the lyrics and you make up your own story. That’s what I’ve always done when I listen to Coldplay.

Where did the idea for the body suits come from?
Well, Chris actually came to me when we were shooting Magic and said he went to a circus show with his kids and saw these guys performing in these outfits. And he said, “I love it, we’ve got to do something with it!” So, I found the guys with the outfits and we created our own ones. But I wrote the story not really thinking about the outfits. I just wrote a story that I think worked for the music - basically a pretty simple love story. But then there were these outfits, which made it very different.

There’s a running theme in the video about life as a large person: not being able to get on the bus, or sit in your theatre seat. Is it meant to be an exploration of what it is to be overweight?
Well, the way we approached the story and this whole idea was way more about just being different in the world, where life is a struggle and then you meet somebody who understands you and then it all falls into place. Then you understand that they are very talented, and that together they are stronger. That’s what I was kind of going for as a message or as part of the story. I wasn’t really thinking about the overweight thing. Although of course when you say it, that’s what it’s about as well.



And like Magic it’s about a couple coming together with a happy ending. So there is a similarity with the narrative. Was that deliberate?
Well, I liked the idea of making two completely different videos in tone and look, but still have them kind of belong to the same family. That’s what I was going for. And we did the same thing with this one as we did with Magic, with me writing a proper short film script rather than writing a standard music video treatment.

And again Chris acts it well.
Yeah, absolutely. And all those years of yoga were paying off, because that outfit was pretty brutal to have on and then do all these tricks, like spinning around!

Ah yes, how does that spinning trick work?!
Well, I shouldn’t tell. It’s another magical trick!



Did you have a choreographer for this video?
Yes, we actually had one of the best choreographers in the world! Her name is Blanca Li. She’s a fantastic ballet choreographer out of Paris. And once again we were so lucky, because a few months ago Coldplay did one Paris show and I spoke to Blanca - who really is one of the best in the business - and I asked her on the phone if she’d like to go and see the show, and she was like, “Yes!”. So she went and she met Chris and they hit it off. And she then came to Los Angeles and helped us figure it out with these outfits.

And how did Jessica Lucas come to be cast for the female role?
Well, we knew we were going to be shooting in Los Angeles, and we wanted to cast someone from there. We actually did it like you would on a movie: we had a list of great actors and then me and Chris sat down and discussed it. And we got stuck on Jessica, because we’re both big fans of her movie Cloverfield. So I managed to get her to come down to have lunch with me and Chris. He put on his best charm and we got her!

Did you tell her about the body suits before she agreed?
Er, yes! Literally about halfway through the lunch I got out my computer to show her a photo. And we thought she was going to stand up and leave!



But she carries it off really well. You almost forget they’re in suits by the end.
Yes, absolutely. That’s a good effect.

How many of the suits did you make?
It’s actually less than you think. Three for him and three for her. He’s got his skateboard outfit, his janitor outfit and his tuxedo at the end.

The skateboard scene did seem like a dream come true for Chris as a big Back To The Future fan.
Yes! Exactly. We did it really early in the morning because we didn’t want any paparazzi to take pictures of it. That would’ve ruined it. We didn’t want any pictures of the suits to come out and people having opinions about it before the video was done.



Keeping videos under wraps must be a lot harder these days, with cameraphones and social media.
Well, for me, because I work so much in Los Angeles, I have the same crew, so I don’t get so much problem. But if you’re on location, there’s always paparazzi. There’s more paparazzi now in LA than anywhere else! So, yes, that can be a problem. But we got away with it for this one.

Before you go, we always ask Coldplay.com interviewees about their favourite Coldplay song. What’s yours?
I’d have to say - because of a long story - the Scientist. That’s probably a lot of people’s answer, but all I can say is that it was sent to me to possibly do the video and I had never heard it before. I was in a car in Sweden and just popped in a CD. That song was amazing from the first time I heard it. It just stuck with me. It became the theme song for me and my wife.



Tagged As: interview video True Love