The Who's Keith Moon biopic: Cast, release date, plot, songs and rumours about the upcoming film
17 March 2023, 10:32 | Updated: 19 September 2023, 13:49
Pete Townshend speaks to Gold
A film about The Who's mercurial drummer Keith Moon has been in the works for a long, long time.
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One project we've been eagerly awaiting for a very long time is a film about The Who's drummer Keith Moon.
- The Who's 15 greatest songs, ranked
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Moon wasn't just an incredible drummer and key figure in 20th century music, but also one of the most rock 'n' roll characters in pop history.
For around three decades now, his bandmate Roger Daltrey has been working to put the film together, and it looks like there might finally be real movement. Here's what we know so far.
What is the Keith Moon biopic called, and who has written it?
The working title of the Keith Moon film is The Real Me, named after the song from 1973's Quadrophenia album, which was also released as a single in North America in 1974.
With significant input from Roger Daltrey, the script has been written by Jeff Pope, who was nominated alongside Steve Coogan for the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay for Philomena in 2014.
Among his other high-profile work, Pope also wrote and produced TV miniseries Cilla and won a BAFTA for 2006 drama See No Evil: The Moors Murders.
The Who - Baba O'Riley (Shepperton Studios / 1978)
Both Daltrey and his sole surviving Who bandmate Pete Townshend will be executive producers, though this is clearly Rog's baby rather than Pete's.
"I'm not opposed to anything that might help me pay for my yachting," Townshend quipped to Rolling Stone in 2021.
"Quite broadly, I wouldn’t object to anything that created spirit around the music that we’ve worked on all our lives.
"We had maybe seven to 10 really profoundly productive years. And then, pretty much nothing. We're living on and living off those years, to a great extent."
The Who: 'Bell Boy', Charlton Athletic 1974
The Real Me is being produced by White Horse Pictures, and if that name sounds familiar, it's because among the many films it produced are the massive The Beatles: Eight Days A Week – The Touring Years, George Harrison: Living in the Material World and Bob Dylan: No Direction Home documentaries.
The company also has a good history with The Who themselves, having produced the epic 2007 documentary Amazing Journey: The Story of The Who and 2009's The Who at Kilburn 1977 – the full concert film originally recorded for 1979's acclaimed The Kids Are Alright documentary.
White Horse's Nigel Sinclair will produce the film with Oliver Veysey, Jeanne Elfant Festa, and The Who’s long-time manager Bill Curbishley.
Who will play Keith Moon and the rest of The Who?
As yet, we don't know.
Wayne's World and Austin Powers legend Mike Myers was in the frame when the film was first conceived, but the Canadian actor will be 60 later this year and Keith died of a drug overdose in 1978 when he was just 32.
Back in 2018, Daltrey told BBC 6Music: "It's going to be very, very dependent on the actor and the actor's eyes.
"Because you've got to cast it completely from the eyes because Moon had extraordinary eyes."
The Who - I Can't Explain
More recently, Roger told the NME: "Mike would have been great at that time but he's too old now, unfortunately,"
"But I do have someone in mind who’s a very very, very good actor. But again, he might be too old but he’s a template. So I can use him to bounce other people and look at their screen presence.
"Because there was something about the original Moon that has to be there in whoever I get to play Keith Moon in this."
The Who - Who Are You (Promo Video)
He also told Metro: "There is an actor recommended to me… he can do all the voices, he’s incredibly talented, won a lot of awards.
"Is it Tom Hardy? No. He's not got Moon at all in him. I need the full Moon."
As for who'll play the rest of the band – Pete Townshend, John 'The Ox' Entwistle (who died in 2002) and Roger Daltrey himself, there's not been any whispers as yet.
We should have answers pretty soon, though, as in January 2023 Variety suggested that casting would be sorted soon in time for shooting to start in June.
What will be the plot of the Keith Moon biopic?
Born in Wembley on August 23, 1946, Keith Moon joined The Who as a replacement for Doug Sandom in their earliest days in 1964, before the release of their first single.
Despite his struggles with self-destructive behaviour, including drug and alcohol abuse, Keith stayed with the band until his death in 1978.
Getting the story just right is part of the reason it's taken so long to get to this point.
"It’s been quite a journey,” Daltrey told The Independent in April 2022.
"I've had so many scripts written, by very eminent scriptwriters, but they just did not get it. They did not get him, they did not get the music business. It's been very difficult, but I'm quietly confident that we've got something special."
The Who - Substitute
He added to the NME: "A myriad of writers came up with failed scripts to finally make me sit down and write the kind of story I had in my head of how to tell a story that engages people, that really does expose the full Moon."
In 2019, Daltrey told Metro: "I am definitely making the film about Keith when I get the right script. I don’t want to make a biopic, I want a drama where Keith is the central character.
"I never met anyone like him in my life and I don’t think I ever will, and you should all be grateful for that. He was wonderful but dangerous and very frustrating. He was an uncontrolled genius, completely out of control."
The Who - The Kids Are Alright
He later added to the same newspaper: "The film is about genius you’re born with, that you can’t quite get to grips with… it becomes about addiction.
"I want people to understand how smart, how funny, how flawed Keith was. He was one of those people we really need because, by God, it's boring with all these new celebrities!"
So don't expect a glossy, triumphant story like Bohemian Rhapsody, saying his film will be "the antithesis" of the Freddie Mercury film.
"I haven’t seen Rocketman but I saw Bohemian Rhapsody and I thought Rami Malek deserved what he got," said Roger. "He did a great job with a really thin script."
What is the release date of the Keith Moon biopic?
The release date of The Real Me is yet to be confirmed.
Shooting has been pushed back so many times over the past couple of decades that we're not going to stick out necks out with a firm prediction.
With that said, Roger is finally happy with the script – so we're further along than we've ever been.
Daltrey told Metro in March 2023: "It’s 99% there. I’ve got the script with the director."
The Who - Pinball Wizard (Live at the Isle of Wight, 1970)
Around the same time, he added to the NME: "I’m waiting on a reply from a director that I was talking to prior to starting writing the script.
"I'm very pleased with the script, it will be made. As soon as he's finished the film that he's on, he will read it and I'll get a reply from him. Hopefully, we'll get it made ASAP."
But as we're yet to hear about a cast or director, Variety's suggestion of a June shooting date might be missed.
We'll predict shooting will still happen later this year or early next year, with the film to come out in late 2024 or early 2025.
What songs by The Who will the film feature?
The Who - Love, Reign O’er Me (Lyric Video)
No word yet on what music the film will include, and whether the cast will record any songs, or if they'll mime original recordings by The Who.
We can be pretty sure that the film will have the full rights to use whatever Who songs they like, with Roger Daltrey being the driving force behind the project and Pete Townsend also being on board as an executive producer.