Below the Breslin, in the black lacquered bowels of the Ace Hotel, a select group of guests gathered Saturday night to celebrate the Tribeca Film Festival premiere of "Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll," the rollicking, artfully-told biopic of British New Waver Ian Dury.
Juliette Lewis was among the crowd, who swilled cocktails until the wee hours of Sunday morning (before migrating south to the Bowery Hotel), as was Whitney Port, spending much of the evening canoodling with her date.
But the real guest of honor was, of course, the film's star, Andy Serkis, a man who could hardly get a beverage to his lips with the amount of revelers offering him their hearty congratulations.
U.S. audiences are probably more familiar with Serkis' voice, or at least a high-pitched rendition of it, since the British actor garnered critical acclaim for his work as the CGI-rendered "Lord of the Rings" villain Gollum, but it's his latest effort that truly sees him inhabiting a character.
"I had read a biography about Ian Dury and thought, 'Why hasn't this been told?'" the affable Serkis said, smiling through a shaggy layer of a scruff as he explained his affinity for the complex rocker, who'd spent his life stricken with polio.
"Paul Verack, [the film's writer and] a very close friend of mine, and I sat at a pub in SoHo in London called the Blue Post and we sort of hatched out this plan."
That plan included eschewing the typical trappings of a biopic, specifically a traditional timeline. Given Dury's unique story, as well as his background as a trained artist, the duo sought to capture the character's essence through a stylized and eclectic narrative.
"We wanted to find the key, not the key events like when he was born and when he died. So we were fairly clear it was going to be a impressionistic and kaleidoscopic view of the man and not a normal rock biopic," he said.
Thankfully Serkis, no doubt an actor who loves his music and appreciates its history (10 years ago, he starred in "24 Hour Party People," a film about Factory Records and the madcap Manchester days of the 1980s), seems supremely at ease playing Dury.
Speaking of which, with "The Hobbit" slated to start filming as soon as MGM figures out its whole restructuring debacle, we had to gauge his confidence in reprising his iconic role as Gollum.
"Gollum is still there under my skin, the fabric of the character is there, and I know that [director] Guillermo del Toro is going to have some completely new ideas and will take the character on a completely other journey, so I am very excited about that" he said, seemingly giddy with excitement.