How a directors' night out inspired Edgar Wright's new rock doc The Sparks Brothers
In October 2017, directors Edgar Wright (Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, Baby Driver) and Phil Lord (21 Jump Street, The Lego Movie) attended a Sparks show in Los Angeles during which longtime fan Wright bemoaned that the cult art-rock band was not more popular.
"I said, 'Someone needs to make a documentary about them,'" recalls Wright. "Phil said, 'You should.' And I said, 'Okay, I will!'"
The result is the EW Must List–approved The Sparks Brothers (out June 18), which details the strange story of the even stranger group's sibling founders Ron and Russell Mael via vintage footage, animation, and interviews with the brothers, their collaborators, and a small army of celebrity fans like Flea, Jason Schwartzman, Beck, Amy Sherman-Palladino, Mike Myers, and Fred Armisen. "Edgar spent three years, off and on, traveling with us," says Russell. "It's way beyond what we expected."
The doc chronicles the cult faves' triumphs (1994's hit "When Do I Get to Sing 'My Way,'" their work on the new, Cannes festival–opening film Annette, starring Adam Driver and Marion Cotillard) as well as their torments (periods of commercial failure, aborted movie projects with Jacques Tati and Tim Burton). "I think it was good that Edgar chose not to try to shape it into something where everything's been rosy," says Russell.
The Sparks Brothers was met with ecstatic reviews when it premiered at this year's Sundance festival, and at the time of this writing has a 100 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes — a point higher than Citizen Kane, as it turns out. "The numbers don't lie," jokes Ron.
Watch the trailer for The Sparks Brothers above.
A version of this story appears in the July issue of Entertainment Weekly. Order the July issue now or find it on newsstands beginning June 18. Don't forget to subscribe for more exclusive interviews and photos, only in EW.