Emma Stone has revealed how she got up to some raucous antics with her co-stars Olivia Colman and Rachel Weisz in the run-up to making a riotous romp of a film about Queen Anne.
‘It was a unique rehearsal process, where we were being ridiculous with each other . . . for two weeks,’ the Oscar-winning star said of working on The Favourite, directed by Yorgos Lanthimos.
Emma Stone has revealed how she got up to some raucous antics with her co-stars Olivia Colman and Rachel Weisz in the run-up to making a riotous romp of a film about Queen Anne
The film — a heady mix of fact and fiction — explores life at the court of Queen Anne, and the rivalry between two courtiers: Sarah, Duchess of Marlborough (played by Weisz) and the lowly Abigail Masham (Stone), who sets out, with ruthless determination, to supplant the duchess in the monarch’s affections. The performances run the gamut from delicious to delightful.
Stone, who won a best actress Academy Award for La La Land, explained that the director’s pre-filming preparations were designed to make them feel relaxed and comfortable in each other’s company.
‘It was an interesting way to learn that we’d be safe with each other,’ Stone said, mysteriously.
Lanthimos, who made The Lobster and The Killing Of A Sacred Deer, added that the three main characters are ‘complex and complicated, and at any given time in the film they can be doing things you don’t necessarily expect from them’.
The filmmaker was being marvellously understated —because the events that take place in the picture are so wonderfully wicked that much of their cavorting I simply can’t describe in a family newspaper.
Let’s just say that what Queen Anne and her ladies in wanting, sorry waiting, get up to certainly wasn’t discussed in any of the history books I read at school.
Some of the ‘facts’ (amid the fiction) in the Film4 picture are referenced in the more scholarly biographies of Anne.
Olivia Colman (pictured right), who won the best actress prize at the Venice Film Festival for her portrait of Anne, is now shooting the third series of the Netflix hit The Crown, in which she portrays Elizabeth II
It will be screened at the BFI London Film Festival from October 18, and has a general release on January 1, 2019.
‘I’ve forgotten some of the things we invented,’ Lanthimos told me, airily.
‘Except Anne didn’t really have any rabbits.’
In the film, the Queen has a pet rabbit to represent every child of hers that died. I counted 17. ‘We tried to make these women not one-dimensional,’ he added, ‘and you understand that they’ve been through a lot — and then go through a lot more.’
Stone joked that she and the other actresses were ‘mutually shocked’ by what went on inside (and outside) Anne’s private apartments.
The U.S. actress told me: ‘Your royal history wasn’t so picture perfect! Henry VIII beheaded his wives.
‘And there were certainly things going on during other reigns that were violent and sexual.’
Colman, who won the best actress prize at the Venice Film Festival for her portrait of Anne, is now shooting the third series of the Netflix hit The Crown, in which she portrays Elizabeth II. Her work in The Crown will be streamed on Netflix next autumn.
I can’t wait to view Colman’s queens one after the other. There are bound, for reasons that will become clear once you’ve seen The Favourite, to be giddy moments of discombobulation.
The acclaimed, must-see Broadway musical Dear Evan Hansen has settled on a West End theatre and will open in November 2019.
The show’s producer, Stacey Mindich, told me she was won over by the Cameron Mackintosh-owned Noel Coward Theatre.
The production’s branding features a lot of blue, and Ms Mindich observed that ‘funnily enough’, the Coward has a blue stage door.
Dear Evan Hansen, which last year won six Tony Awards — including Best Musical — is about a fictional 17-year-old student who lives in an unnamed American town with his divorced mother.
The acclaimed, must-see Broadway musical Dear Evan Hansen has settled on a West End theatre and will open in November 2019
Evan, a high school senior, has a social anxiety disorder that is exacerbated when he is caught up in another family’s tragedy after their teenage son commits suicide.
The show has a score by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, who also wrote the lyrics for the film La La Land and the Hugh Jackman movie The Greatest Showman.
Its strength lies in the beautifully sensitive language used by Pasek, Paul and Steven Levenson, who wrote the show’s book.
Evan sings about ‘waving through a window’, but worries: ‘Is anybody waving back at me?’
His mother Heidi sings about making sure ‘today is going to be a good day’ for her son.
Producer Mindich said that she, director Michael Greif and the authors are ‘more committed than ever to make sure we have a British cast . . . We want the European public to feel the actors are rooted in their world,’ she told me, and said that casting (which will be colour blind) is still ‘wide open’, though she joked: ‘There are some suspects in London we want to investigate.’
One is Tyrone Huntley, who won awards for his performance as Judas in the Open Air Theatre’s Jesus Christ Superstar (I wrote about Huntley and Evan Hansen back in March).
Mindich has seen a tape of Huntley singing the hit Waving Through A Window, however it’s not known whether the creative team has.
She said ‘we’ll be searching everywhere’, including open and closed casting calls, plus looking at ‘kids right out of college’.
‘It’s so hard to find a young boy with the stamina and the vocal range and vulnerability,’ she added. ‘There’s a particular joy in discovering someone new — and yet there’s a particular comfort with somebody who’s seasoned, at the ripe old age of 20-something.’
A UK casting director will be contracted by the end of next week and one task will be to look through videos sent in since my scoop about Evan Hansen in March.
Mindich said several young men had sent videos to her company and the show’s website, declaring: ‘I’m Evan Hansen.’
Ticket details will be revealed soon. Sign up for information at DearEvan Hansen.com/London
Jones is keeping up with current affairs
Felicity Jones has been keeping an eye on the Brett Kavanaugh Supreme Court nomination hearings.
She feels that, with present political leaders in the U.S., ‘there’s not a lot of hope at the moment’.
Part of the reason the actress cares so much is because she plays future Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in a film called On The Basis Of Sex.
Felicity Jones plays future Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in a film called On The Basis Of Sex
‘It’s incredibly relevant, and I feel Ruth brings hope. She is someone who has real integrity — definitely something we’re lacking,’ Ms Jones told me from the set of director Tom Harper’s film The Aeronauts, which reunites her with Eddie Redmayne — her co-star in the award-winning The Theory Of Everything.
Jones described Ginsburg as a ‘true force’ who stuck by her beliefs ‘from the very beginning’.
As an attorney back in the Seventies, Ginsburg made the Supreme Court understand that there really was such a thing as sex discrimination.
Watch out for…
Sian Brooke, Joshua McGuire and Alex Hassell, the central characters in David Hare’s riveting new political play I’m Not Running, previewing at the National Theatre.
Directed by Neil Armfield, it’s a powerful piece about a doctor (Brooke, right) who leads a hospital campaign in Corby that gives her a national political reputation — much to the chagrin of a former beau (Hassell) who aspires to lead the Labour Party.
Sian Brooke, Joshua McGuire and Alex Hassell, the central characters in David Hare’s riveting new political play I’m Not Running, previewing at the National Theatre
The doctor is helped by a communications bruiser played by McGuire. I was hooked on every word because it was fiction I wanted to be real.
John Macmillan, Hayley Squires, David Suchet and Russell Tovey, all on top form in director Jamie Lloyd’s production of The Lover and The Collection — part two of the season of Harold Pinter short plays at the Harold Pinter Theatre, under the banner Pinter At The Pinter.
I had a terrific time, though I was sold a dodgy ticket. When I complained the box office person trilled: ‘Well the seat’s not directly behind the pillar.’ True. It was one seat removed.
Lloyd has ensured there are plenty of low-priced seats but the theatre’s owners Ambassador Theatre Group have a thing goin’ on with high-priced tickets that include ice cream and bubbly, whether you want the damn stuff or not. I was pretty mad. But I must thank Lloyd for helping find a better seat (same price) and providing a good double bill.
Greengrass finds hope in tragedy
Celebrated filmmaker Paul Greengrass said all his films — including Bloody Sunday, United 93, Green Zone, Captain Phillips, the Bourne movies and his latest picture 22 July, about the killing of 77 people by extreme right-wing terrorist Anders Breivik — are connected.
‘The factual and the fictional ones are related to what I did on World In Action,’ he said, referring to the landmark Granada weekly news documentary series where he got his start, aged 22.
Celebrated filmmaker Paul Greengrass said all his films — including Bloody Sunday, United 93, Green Zone, Captain Phillips, the Bourne movies and his latest picture 22 July, about the killing of 77 people by extreme right-wing terrorist Anders Breivik — are connected
‘The job was to get out in the world and observe,’ he told me, adding that he applies the same disciplines in his big Hollywood thrillers and more intimate films, such as 22 July, which he filmed on locations in Norway using an all Norwegian cast and crew.
Greengrass read the testimony of killer Anders Behring Breivik and met Jens Stoltenberg, Norway’s prime minister at the time of the 2011 massacre.
‘I went to ask him if he thought it was an inappropriate idea to make the film. I needed a cautious reading of the situation. You don’t want to walk into peoples’ tragedy and intrude, frankly.’
The film concentrates as much on the survivors, particularly student Viljar Hanssen (played by Jonas Strand Gravli), as the killer
Stoltenberg gave him the green light, as did the families of the murdered, and the survivors.
Greengrass opted to make the film in English, after the actors told him Norwegians are bilingual. ‘I don’t speak a word of Norwegian, so that was easy.’
The film concentrates as much on the survivors, particularly student Viljar Hanssen (played by Jonas Strand Gravli), as the killer. Their voices are a powerful counterpoint to Breivik’s hate.
It serves as a warning of what can happen when populism and nationalist ideology get out of hand. But it’s also a masterpiece about how the love of family and friends can conquer hatred.
Netflix will stream 22 July from October 10, when it is also released in 12 UK Curzon cinemas.