The Ghost of Richard Harris will launch on Sky Arts on November 19. Directed by Adrian Sibley, this candid Sky Original documentary recalls the life of the legendary actor, poet and singer Richard Harris, whose distinguished career has sometimes been overshadowed by his reputation as a “hellraiser”.
This feature documentary explores the colourful and turbulent life of the Irish actor – as told by Richard Harris himself. His voice – the ghost of the title – is drawn from many sources. These include some previously unheard tapes recorded by Irish journalist Joe Jackson, whose interviews with Harris took place over a period of 15 years. The film also features unseen sand intimate family footage from the Harris Estate. Perhaps, he is best known to younger generations for playing Dumbledore in the first two Harry Potter films, but Richard Harris also left a legacy of some remarkable movies. In this film, he is remembered by some of those who knew him well. They include his three sons: Damien, Jared and Jamie – as well as those who worked with him, such as Vanessa Redgrave, Russell Crowe, Jim Sheridan and Phil Coulter. The film explores Harris’ complex, flawed genius and his unique and multiple talents. He was, after all, a chart-topping singer and an acclaimed poet – as well as an actor whose career spanned the decades and who earned his first Oscar nomination in the 1960s (for This Sporting Life) and his last in the 1990s (for The Field).
The Ghost of Richard Harris is part of Adrian Sibley’s extensive and distinguished filmography. The biographical film director’s previous subjects include Sir Anthony Hopkins, Baz Luhrmann and Steve Martin. He also directed The Kate Bush Story: Running Up That Hill (2014), Prince’s Last Year (2018) and The Road to Palmyra (2018).
Director Adrian Sibley says “I had the pleasure of meeting Richard Harris through his son Damian at the Savoy to talk about making a documentary about his life and times. He’d seen my film with Anthony Hopkins where he talked about drinking and thought we’d work well together. Richard took me out for supper, and I had one of the best nights of my life. He was the ultimate storyteller and everyone in the restaurant stopped to listen to him, but I still felt that he was only talking to me. I knew I could make a fascinating film about this unusual man but unfortunately soon afterwards he became ill and died. Now on the 20th anniversary of his death and using hours of unheard audio tapes, I’ve had the opportunity to work with him from beyond the grave and make the film we discussed, with him unravelling the story of what he calls “a turbulent journey” of “great highs and lows”, in short, a life that few can even imagine.”
The Ghost of Richard Harris has been financed by Screen Ireland and Groove International alongside Sky Arts, which is part of an increased wider investment in Irish content by Sky. International sales are being handled by Abacus Media Rights.
The Ghost of Richard Harris will be available on Sky Arts from 19 November 2022.