“The King’s Speech” Talk with Director Tom Hooper

October 14, 2010 § Leave a comment

The Oscar race is in full swing with this year’s Best Picture Contender, “The King’s Speech”, due out November 26, 2010.

Follow the relationship between a down to earth, middle class family man working as a speech therapist and the Duke of York with a stammering problem. Lionel Logue, played by Geoffrey Rush, is not just an instructor, but a witty and fun loving, friend, speech and psychotherapist, who attempts to assist a client by breaking the ice, while breaking down childhood fears and walls built up after years of growing up as a member of The Royal Family, as well. The newly appointed King George VI must overcome obstacles in order to demonstrate his leadership skills so that he can serve the public through one of the most difficult periods in history.

Director Tom Hooper on “The King’s Speech”:

“Writer of “The King’s Speech” screenplay, David Seidler, felt inspired to write the story, because when he was younger, he also stammered.  David would listen to recordings of King George VI, and think to himself, “if he can overcome his stammer, then so can I.”

“Colin Firth, as King George VI, and Geoffrey Rush, as Lionel Logue, were joyous to work with. They are both fiercely talented.  Geoffrey is actually Australian, but his British accent is so impeccable, I think it kept Colin on his toes.  Geoff has a boyish enthusiasm, while Colin has a different energy. They were both fabulous, rehearsing for three weeks.”

“Nine weeks before the shoot we tracked down Lionel Logue’s guardian, who had unpublished diaries of interactions between Logue and King George VI, in his attic. The diary was never seen before by any art historian. This was a treasure trove of information, as the diaries only started once he was King. For example, the line, “You still stammered on the ‘W’.  “Well, I had to throw in a few, so they knew it was me.”, was a direct quote from the diaries.  Also, the shot of him at the desk and giving the speech standing up with the window open to relax him, were all information provided to us from the diary.”

Q: Colin Firth had so much fear in his face as he played the role of King George VI. How did you direct him?

A: “I terrorized him. No, but seriously, Colin watched 6 hours of footage of the King. Colin so wanted to get it right. We also cut away a lot, so that when we cut back to faces, you would see quiet desperation.  Stammering is very infectious. We also had the stammerer who played Claudius in “I, Claudius”, Derek Jacobi, on the set, in case we needed to refer to him.”

Q: “How did you research the speech therapist?”

A: “Colin Firth’s sister ironically is a speech therapist.  It is not about what you say, it is actually about the silences.  It’s about being caught drowning in those silences.  It was about making a film that was tolerable to watch.  If the stammering became too much, the movie would become unwatchable.”

Q: Talk about the role of Queen Elizabeth, played by Helena Bonham Carter.

A: “Helena Bonham Carter was so eager to talk to anyone who had spoken with the Queen. She was splendid.”

Q: Talk about researching the time period.

A: “I was able to still talk to people who were alive during that time period. For example, my next door neighbor was still able to provide me with facts and information of activities of daily living. For example, the smog was so thick that in order to hail a cab it had to be done from six feet in front of the car.”

Article by Sharon Abella

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