Dir. Tom Hooper | 2011 | 118 minutes | GB | (12A) | Period / Drama
CAST: COLIN FIRTH (King George VI) | GEOFFREY RUSH (Lionel Logue) | HELENA BONHAM CARTER (Queen Elizabeth) | TIMOTHY SPALL (Winston Churchill) | GUY PEARCE (Edward) | MICHAEL GAMBON (King George V) | DEREK JACOBI (Cosmo Lang) | CLAIRE BLOOM (Queen Mary) | JENNIFER EHLE (Mrs Logue) |
Extra: TONY EARNSHAW (Policeman)
“Can you march?” says a friendly voice on the other end of the ‘phone. I confirm I can and am promptly hired to play a soldier in The King’s Speech, a new historical drama filming briefly in Bradford this week.
Two days later I find myself among a motley collection of fellow extras at the Bradford Bulls’ stadium in Odsal for a costume fitting.
An hour after arriving I am hustled into a bar area doubling as a costume store to be greeted by a camp Italian costumier who gives me the once-over, tuts and announces (rather too loudly for my liking) “I can do nothing with you!”
Abruptly he turns on his heel, motions me to several racks of WWI-era uniforms and proceeds to rummage through them at great speed. Occasionally he glances back at me, shakes his head and continues with what he clearly feels is a fruitless quest.
Beckoning a female colleague to his side, he gives me another withering look before shrugging at her. “He’s not fat,” she says, forgetting that I’m standing two feet away. “We still have some larger uniforms.”
“It’s his belly,” says my excitable Italian friend. Giving me the full benefit of his exasperation, he adds “Why do you have a belly? No-one had a belly in 1925. They did not have enough to eat. How could they have a belly? Do you eat a lot of fried food?”
I feel like climbing inside a cardboard box but decide they probably don’t have one big enough.
After some contained histrionics and much muttering my exasperated amico locates a blue serge uniform for a marine, complete with white pith helmet, belt and gloves.
I squeeze into the jacket with as much dignity as I can muster and start to complain about the 42-inch trousers (too large, before you ask) but think better of it. Then it’s time for a short back and sides.
I ask the hairdresser why I need such a ruthless cut when my head will be hidden by the pith helmet. “On feature films, it’s all about the wallpaper,” she replies. She then shaves a neat line above my neck, slices off my sideburns and advises me to lose my beard before filming begins.
I emerge to find a line of fellow victims with similarly severe haircuts. Handing back my costume I catch up with the gossip.There is some talk of the film and its stars – Colin Firth plays the young George VI as he struggles to master his speech impediment – and the weather.
The Met Office has forecast snow. As I walk into the car park, I feel the icy wind tickling my bare neck.