TV & Movies

Photos Of The Pistol Cast vs. Their Real-Life Counterparts

How well does Pistol recreate one of culture’s most relentless punk bands?

by Kadin Burnett
Anson Boon as John Lyndon, Louis Partridge as Sid Vicious, Toby Wallace as Steve Jones, Jacob Slater...
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Premiering May 31, FX’s new miniseries Pistol attempts to tell the story of the Sex Pistols, one of England’s most notorious and anti-establishment bands of all time. Across six episodes, the series captures the band’s ascent and chaotic demise against the backdrop of a punk revolution.

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Directed by Danny Boyle (Trainspotting, 28 Days Later), the series is based on Sex Pistols member Steve Jones’ memoir Lonely Boy: Tales from a Sex Pistol, which chronicles how the band stamped their name on the course of counterculture artistry. The miniseries also touches on the band’s relationship with iconic ’70s artists and designers coming up in the punk scene.

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Also known as John Beverley, Sex Pistols bassist Sid Vicious is portrayed by Louis Partridge (Enola Holmes). He remains, perhaps, the most well-known member of the band, despite being a part of the Pistols for less than two years and his untimely death in 1979 at age 21.

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Vicious replaced former bassist Glen Matlock and was already a massive fan of the band before joining in 1978. He was a perfect fit due to his relentless attitude and trademark nihilism. However, it was that same reckless anarchism that ultimately may have led to the murder of Vicious’ girlfriend Nancy Spungen.

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Game of Thrones star Maisie Williams stars as Pamela Rooke, also known as Jordan Mooney, an English model and prominent fan of the Sex Pistols. Rooke first made a name for herself after modeling the work of famed designer Vivienne Westwood.

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Rooke’s trademark look became her dark racoon-style eye makeup and platinum blond hair. She’s credited as being a pioneer of England’s punk scene in the 1970s, alongside Johnny Rotten of the Sex Pistols. She would periodically appear onstage with the Sex Pistols, once famously wearing a shirt that stated, “Only anarchists are pretty.”

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Thomas Brodie-Sangster (the cute little boy from Love Actually) stars as Malcolm McLaren in Pistol. He served as the promoter and manager of the Sex Pistols during their run in the ’70s. Along with his duties to the band, McLaren was a multihyphenate also working as a designer, visual artist, and boutique owner.

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McLaren was at the forefront of the punk movement, acting as one of the era’s bigger designers and delivering fashion rooted in counterculture. Most of his designs came out of SEX boutique in Chelsea, which he own and operated alongside his then-girlfriend, Westwood.

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Talulah Riley serves as the series’ Vivienne Westwood. The British designer is known for her popularization of new wave fashion, which helped in modernizing and mainstreaming the punk scene. Alongside her then-boyfriend, McLaren, her designs made a name for SEX boutique.

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Though she began as a punk icon, Westwood remains one of the largest names in the fashion industry. Her designs have evolved over the years, ranging from punky to “New Romantic.” Despite having boutiques around the world, the political activism that first inspired her designs continues to influence her work.

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John Lydon, otherwise known as Johnny Rotten, is played by Anson Boon. The Sex Pistols frontman served as the band’s lead singer, best known for his wild hairstyles and aggressive voice. After the Pistols disbanded in 1978, Lydon founded another band, Public Image Ltd.

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Lydon was famous for his rebellious nature and wardrobe, which ultimately drew the eyes and ears of the band’s future manager, McLaren. He was also the pen behind some of the band’s most famous hits like, “God Save the Queen,” “Pretty Vacant,” and “Anarchy in the U.K.,” all of which helped establish him as a trailblazer in the punk scene.

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English musician Glen Matlock was part of the original roster of the Sex Pistols and is played by Christian Lees. Though he was credited as being a part of the Sex Pistols’ one and only studio album, Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols, Matlock was replaced during the recording process by the notorious Vicious.

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While Matlock has served as the band’s bassist during reunion performances, he and his former band mates have disputed just how involved he actually was during the recording of their album. Though it was reported that Matlock was pushed out of the band, he stated in the 2000 documentary I Was a Teenage Sex Pistol that he left of his own accord.

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Pistol sees Sydney Chandler take on the role of Chrissie Hynde, an American singer-songwriter who served as the founding member of the English-American rock band The Pretenders. Hynde was an up-and-coming act in the ’70s punk scene, causing her to cross paths with several members of the Sex Pistols.

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Hynde headed to London in 1973, where she found work at NME, a music publication. However, her career as a journalist was short-lived, later finding work at the boutique SEX. It was there when she struck up a relationship with both Vicious and Rotten, both of whom she tried to marry in an attempt to extend her stay in the United Kingdom.

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Emma Appleton plays Nancy Spungen, perhaps the most tragic figure tied to the Sex Pistols mythos. Spungen is probably best known for her tumultuous and abusive relationship with Vicious, who is believed to have inadvertently murdered Spungen during a drunken altercation in 1978.

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Before dating Vicious, Spungen worked as an amateur music journalist, which allowed her access to many of the popular bands of the era, including Aerosmith, The Ramones, and the Sex Pistols. She and Vicious moved in together shortly after meeting and continued to cohabitate at the Hotel Chelsea after the band broke up in 1978.

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Paul Cook, also known as “Cookie,” was the drummer for the Sex Pistols during their time together. He’s played by Jacob Slater, who took on the challenge of portraying one of the more beloved drummers to ever grace the punk scene.

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Cook met Steve Jones in 1972, and after becoming fast friends, the two musicians became the de facto founding members of the Sex Pistols. Jones served as the band’s lead guitarist, while Cook managed the drums. After the band broke up, Cook and Jones would form another group in 1981 named The Professionals, but not before releasing Sex Pistols singles without Lydon.

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A self-taught guitar player, Steve Jones was one of the founding members of the Sex Pistols, alongside Cook. Toby Wallace stars as the band’s lead guitarist, who also happens to be the writer of the memoir upon which Pistol is based.

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Before the Sex Pistols were an established act, Jones, along with Cook and English guitarist Wally Nightingale, co-founded the band The Strand, before changing their name to The Swankers. In 1975, Cook and Jones had rid themselves of Nightingale, which allowed them to form the original lineup of the Pistols, including Matlock and Lydon.

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