RETURN OF THE REBEL
SHE'S BACK - WITH MORE TALES OF ACTING,
RECORDING, STRANGE CLOTHING, AND LIFE IN THE FAST
It's five in the evening (French time, that is)
and Toyah's taking a well deserved breather.
She's been filming all day long with arguably the
world's most celebrated actor, Laurence Olivier -
now Lord Olivier. What's it like working with
someone so famous?
"Wonderful. Incredible," explodes
Toyah. "We call him 'Sir' because we all
firmly believe that's what he deserves to be
In fact they got on like house on fire. "I
have dinner," she continues, "with him
every night. I'm the only one who can drink the
way he likes to. We're both firm believers in
drinking. We both have very strong capacities for
What's Lord Olivier's favourite drink?
"Oh, champagne. He loves it."
Did he know any of Toyah's back catalogue?
"No, we haven't got round to talking about
that yet. But his kids are coming over here and,
no doubt, we'll get a chance to talk about that.
The problem is, I always want to talk about him
when I'm with him. He's told me some really
beautiful stories about his time in Hollywood and
especially about how his ex-wife Vivien Leigh got
the part in Gone With The Wind. He's so charming
to be with."
Toyah and Lord Olivier are tucked away in the
Dordogne region of France, making a 90-minute
film called The Ebony Tower for Granada
For this they're using two stately chateaux - one
as a hotel and the other a backdrop for the
movie. Toyah's as enthusiastic as ever.
"I'd never seen a chateaux before but it's
just great. There's a family still living here
and they have immaculate taste.
"I can't describe it. If you get a Habitat
catalogue and look at their new paintwork, that's
the kind of style that is here. And it's been
here for over 100 years. All hand done with
enormous cast-iron beds in every room.
She can barely contain herself. "Outside,
it's very falling- down, very atmospheric. Not
creepy at all but very inspiring."
The film (which probably won't be screened 'til
late '84) is based around a short story by the
author John Fowles. It tells a fraught tale of
how four people react to each other over a short
period of time.
There's an exiled English painter (played
naturally enough by Lord Olivier) who shares his
chateau with two young art students, variously
called The Mouse and The Freak (that's Toyah).
"My character," she laughs, "is
very bitchy, very calculating and she stirs
"It's a very challenging role because in the
film I have to hate Sir Laurence and I find that
hard to do. Deep down I want to hold him and kiss
him just as I would do with my dad."
After The Ebony Tower which will swallow up the
whole of September, Toyah returns to music-making
with a six-month world tour (the British dates
are scheduled for "late Autumn") a new
album called "Love Is The Law" (due for
October release) and a new single "Rebel
Run" which is already in the shops.
promises some major surprises.
the first time I've written real love songs - a
fieldI've never ventured into before. The songs
are all inter-related. There's a loose story
behind it but I'm not telling anyone that.
There's a very emotional feeling to the whole
"There are even surprises on the back of the
12-inch version of 'Rebel Run'. No, I'm not
saying what they are. People will have to get it,
"Love Is The Law" was put together
under particularly gruelling circumstances. By
day she was working on the new material and by
night she was appearing in the stage play
Trafford Tanzi, a fiery slice of feminist drama
set in the wrestling ring itself. There simply
weren't enough hours in the day.
"To begin with," sighs Toyah, "I
moved the band into my house and we moved a
portable studio in as well. "I'd get up
about 9:00, cook breakfast for everyone and we'd
record until 5:30 when I'd go to the theatre, do
the show and be home by 11:00. Then we'd carry on
recording 'til 4:00. That went on for about two
"I began to feel pretty ill but I'm really
glad I did it. I didn't enjoy last year too much
so this year I was determined to make up for that
- living twice as fast."
As you can see, Toyah has a new look - a kind of
ferocious mixture of a science fiction future and
an American football present - but the difference
now is that this image is strictly confined to
the single "Rebel Run". She no longer
wants one look to represent all the different
aspects of work.
"I simply forgot about changing the imagery
for Toyah Willcox a year ago. I just create an
image now for a song. Toyah is now a very private
person. I now demand more privacy because I've
been a very public person for a long time.
But how could she describe the "Rebel
"It's the modern woman in that she's very
The crash helmet and the massively padded
shoulders quite deliberately paint a picture of
defiance and independence.
"I have no sympathy," says Toyah,
"for anyone who can't handle the pressure
within their own society. I think the idea of
women being inferior has just disappeared and a
woman who allows that to happen to her has only
herself to blame.
"And it's the same with the man who says
he's lumbered with a wife and a job. It's his own
fault. I have very little sympathy for these
cliched social diseases. Kids today are very
bright and very aware and they know much more
about the sexual possibilities, for example, than
I ever did."
Finally, what ambitions does she still cherish?
"For the band we have to break more foreign
ground although that doesn't mean I'll be
ignoring England because England will always be
"For myself, I'd love to do an enormous
movie. The Lead role. But I can't forsee that yet
because there still aren't many well-written
parts for women in movies. Actually, I would like
to work with Bowie but that's more of a childish
Have you seen Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence?
"No, I'd love to see it. I know I'll like it
Hits, September 1983