'Pistol': Sydney Chandler played guitar with Chrissie Hynde (exclusive)

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·3-min read

Watch: Pistol cast discuss meeting real-life counterparts

Sydney Chandler says playing guitar with Chrissie Hynde before playing her in Pistol was 'the scariest thing in my entire life'.

Danny Boyle's six-part drama series traces the rise and fall of the Sex Pistols, while also exploring the burgeoning London punk scene in the late 1970s.

Hynde, who would go on to front The Pretenders, is depicted as a member of staff at SEX — the boutique run by Vivienne Westwood (Talulah Riley) and Pistols manager Malcolm McLaren (Thomas Brodie-Sangster).

Sydney Chandler as Chrissie Hynde and Talulah Riley as Vivienne Westwood in Danny Boyle's drama Pistol. (Disney)
Sydney Chandler as Chrissie Hynde and Talulah Riley as Vivienne Westwood in Danny Boyle's drama Pistol. (Disney)

Chandler and Riley were able to meet with their real-life counterparts ahead of filming on the series, which took place amid COVID-19 restrictions last year, and even play music with them.

"I was able to meet with Chrissie quite a few times. She had me play guitar with her, which was the scariest thing in my entire life," Chandler told Yahoo.

UNITED KINGDOM - JANUARY 01:  Photo of PRETENDERS and James HONEYMAN SCOTT and Chrissie HYNDE and Pete FARNDON and Martin CHAMBERS; Posed studio group portrait L-R James Honeyman Scott, Chrissie Hynde, Pete Farndon and Martin Chambers  (Photo by Fin Costello/Redferns)
James Honeyman Scott, Chrissie Hynde, Pete Farndon and Martin Chambers on The Pretenders in 1979. (Fin Costello/Redferns)

Read more: John Lydon says he was "ostracised" from making of Pistol

"She was really helpful and kind and shared so many memories, especially about [Pistols bassist Sid Vicious] actually.

"I learned about so many small things that you couldn't get from anyone else except the source. So it was really generous of her to share her thoughts and her memories."

Riley, meanwhile, said it was "wonderful" to be able to meet Westwood, who is now an undisputed icon of British fashion.

Chrissie Hynde (Sydney Chandler) and Sex Pistols guitarist Steve Jones (Toby Wallace) form a romantic bond in Pistol. (Disney)
Chrissie Hynde (Sydney Chandler) and Sex Pistols guitarist Steve Jones (Toby Wallace) form a romantic bond in Pistol. (Disney)

She added: "I went to the Vivienne Westwood offices and saw her amongst all her creations. She was very gracious, very generous with her time and spoke about that period."

Obviously, access to the real-life inspiration for her character was not something that was available to Emma Appleton, who appears in Pistol as Nancy Spungen — Sid Vicious's girlfriend, who died in 1978.

Malcolm McLaren, manager of the Sex Pistols, appears at Bow Street Magistrates Court, pictured outside with his girlfriend Vivienne Westwood. London, 30th August 1977. (Photo by Charlie Ley/Mirrorpix/Getty Images)
Malcolm McLaren, manager of the Sex Pistols, appears at Bow Street Magistrates Court, pictured outside with Vivienne Westwood, 1977. (Getty)

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Spungen has been portrayed several times on screen before, most famously by Chloe Webb opposite Gary Oldman in Alex Cox's 1986 movie Sid and Nancy.

"I definitely wanted to shut out some of that noise in terms of other interpretations because I was very aware that this is hopefully a Nancy that we haven't seen before," said Appleton.

Emma Appleton plays Nancy Spungen to Louis Partridge's Sid Vicious in Pistol. (Disney)
Emma Appleton plays Nancy Spungen to Louis Partridge's Sid Vicious in Pistol. (Disney)

"But in terms of source material, I did want to get an essence of who Nancy may have been. I read a book that her mother wrote, which was very important because I wanted to try to weave any of that information into the Nancy we then had in the script."

Based on the memoirs of Pistols guitarist Steve Jones, the show is destined to be controversial for its depiction of the band, with frontman John Lydon already critical of it as a "middle class fantasy".

Sid Vicious of the Sex Pistols, wearing an eye patch, with Nancy Spungen, 1978. (Watal Asanuma/Shinko Music/Getty Images)
Sid Vicious of the Sex Pistols, wearing an eye patch, with Nancy Spungen, 1978. (Getty)

Read more: New on Disney+ in May 2022

Lydon had previously launched unsuccessful legal action in an attempt to prevent the music of the Sex Pistols from appearing in the show.

Toby Wallace plays Jones in the series, alongside Anson Boon as Lydon and Jacob Slater as drummer Paul Cook, alongside Louis Partridge as Vicious.

Pistol is available to stream in its entirety on Disney+ from 31 May.

Watch: Trailer for Disney+ series Pistol