Filmmaker Tom Hooper was a worried man before his film The King’s Speech won four Academy Awards at the recently concluded Oscar ceremony. In his acceptance speech on the red carpet, he was heard saying that he had to keep “pinching himself” to fathom all the attention his film was getting.
Hooper, who won the Oscar for the Best Director for The King’s Speech that also won the most prestigious Best Picture Award, felt it had a “fragile ecology” because it began and ended with a speech.
“I lived intimately with the fear that it wouldn't be climactic enough,” says Hooper, explaining the need of the ‘pinch’. “I thought it wouldn’t be emotional enough. Even the stammer had so many pitfalls. It could be comic. Even if you laughed at him only once, that would be misfiring.” But it was his mother, who he, time and again, thanked for making the film happen. “My mum's Australian and she was invited by some friends to a fringe theatre in north London to see a reading of an unproduced play. It was called The King's Speech. It was under everyone's radar.”
Beyond the plot of the film, his anxiety carried on. Though he had a stellar cast including Helena Bonham Carter, Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush, each of whom earned an Academy Award nomination; and Firth won himself the Best Actor Award, Hooper still didn't think he had done enough. “When I first met Colin, my reservations were that he was 10 years too old. He’s a big strapping lad of 6 feet 2 inches tall. The real king was smaller,” says the filmmaker, who after spending some time with Firth realised that it was the spiritual similarity between the actor and the King that worked more than the physical. “Colin is nice to his core. And the real king, from my research, seems to be that.”
Hooper once again took a chance and teased Carter in his speech when he mentioned the much spoken of ‘triangle of man love’ between Firth, Rush and Hooper on the film set. “Geoffrey was there for four weeks and then he left to go do a play, and Colin was kind of in mourning. It was very sweet and Helena got very jealous; she was making jokes that it was a love story.” In the case of Carter, he was always a fan. Recollecting the actors’ preparation for the role, he says, “Every time I went to her and Tim’s (Burton) house there would be another royal historian having supper with her. What’s extraordinary is that in two minutes you accept that she's the Queen Mother.”
The film was originally nominated in 12 categories for the Academy Awards. The King's Speech also won the Best Original Screenplay award and will release in Indian theatres this Friday.