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Hey yíall, we had a chat with the folks behind, Anonymous, the new drama that courts the controversial theory that the legendary work of William Shakespeare wasnít actually ďThe BardísĒ.  Stars Rhys Ifans, Joely Richardson, director Roland Emmerich and writer John Orloff talked about the debate, what it was like to make this controversial film and future projects.

Dig it!



Rhys Ifans and Joely Richardson


The Lady Miz Diva:  How familiar were you with the theory that Shakespeare didnít actually create his works before working on Anonymous and now where do you stand on the idea?

Rhys Ifans:  Well, Iíve always been aware of the so-called authorship question.  Because quite frankly, there is no absolute, concrete evidence as to who the author of these works is.  I was kind of aware of the {Francis} Bacon theory and the {Christopher} Marlowe theory, but having been offered this part, I obviously had to research {Lord} Oxford a great deal, and Oxfordís life is very, very well documented; much more so than William of Stratford, certainly.  And in reading Shakespeareís work you have to accept that whoever penned these plays would have to have been well-traveled, would almost certainly had to have been a multi-linguist, and without a shadow of a doubt would have to have had a unique insight and knowledge into the workings and political dynamics of a very secretive, paranoid Elizabethan court.  Edward de Vere ticks all those boxes.  William of Stratford, on the other hand, doesnít.  Do I believe it was Edward de Vere?  Iím not a hundred percent convinced.  All Iím convinced of is that whoever wrote these works was a genius and I think itís our duty as actors, directors and spectators to question or offer possibilities as to who wrote these because that can only illuminate the plays in a different way.  And also I think whoever wrote these plays, we owe it to him, or her, or them, to ask this question.  It would be a crime not to.

Joely Richardson:  Unlike Rhys, I was completely unaware of the authorship question.  And I say that with no pride whatsoever, and now I feel like a total ignoramus.  {Laughs}  How could I have possibly not known about it?  I was in California and this actor was saying, ďOh my God, Iíve just read this great book and they know the factual evidence that Shakespeare didnít write the plays,Ē and I was just thinking, ďOh my God, heís crazy.Ē  I literally thought that.  And then Roland and approached me and my mum, Vanessa, about it, and I still thought, ĎHmmm, interesting, but I doubt it.í  And then I started to read up on it, and then I got really, really interested.  I donít know if youíve read up on it, because it becomes fascinating and then suddenly I realised that itís a hundreds of year-old debate, that, personally, I donít know.  I donít say itís Oxford, itís Bacon, Iím not a Stratfordian.  I think that when you start to look at the actual facts, as Rhys was saying Ö I have read the press thatís been out lately and Iíve seen that some people have turned it into a class debate, which I find really offensive, because itís not a class debate at all.  Itís more a travel, itís a knowledge of the law, itís a knowledge of alchemy, of the inside court dealings, of the outside court dealings, of the laymen, of the countrymen; it encompasses everything, so itís someone who hadÖ  You know, we didnít have internet then; you couldnít look up Italy, you couldnít look up Sycamore trees.  And then like some people have argued, ďWell, he talked about the Warwickshire countryside, so he had to have knowledge of being a farmer,Ē and itís like no, you could have traveled through the Warwickshire countryside.  I mean, Iíve heard people talk about the Bacon theory and that Stratford isnít mentioned once in any of the plays Ė interesting.  The Bacon theory is that St. Albans is mentioned something like thirteen times because he was from St. Albans.  So, there are so many different facts, but what I really thinkís interesting is the whole story; itís that it makes it a mystery.  The plays themselves are so incredible in that they literally encompass every human story, from tragedy to romance in historical plays, that it makes it more interesting and the more you research it, the more interesting it gets.  So, I see this as an absolute celebration of the work and Rolandís told a story about a particular theory, which is at times a romantic one.  I love the idea about how discombobulated love is and you can have these crazy, very strong moments with someone and years later -- I was sort of personally heartbroken towards the end of the film, because even though Iíd read the script, I didnít know how itís going to be cut together and then youíre like, ĎAre they going to see each other again?í ĎArenít they going to see each other again?í  I love the fact that Roland and John Orloff have opened up the debate.  Itís not a controversy, itís not a bashing of Shakespeare; itís an exploration of it.


LMD:  How did you align your performances with those of Jamie Campbell Bower and Vanessa Redgrave who play your younger and older selves?

JR:  Itís funny and you get this combo.  Whereís Jamie?  Whereís Vanessa?

RI:  I guess itís Rolandís astute eye, you know?  I was just over the moon that someone as good-looking as Jamie was playing him, cos I never looked that good when I was his age, I tell ya!  All I said to him was, ďMake me look good in the sack,Ē which he did!

JR:  {Laughs} Well, mum and I being related made it a little bit easier than these two.  Díyou know my mother is actuallyÖ I know what her image is; I know how sheís perceived.  As a mother, she is like Miss Sweetheart, she would never say anything.  Sheís totally supportive and kind and sheís not bossy at all.  Iím the one, like ďMum!Ē and sheís like the nice one.


Director Roland Emmerich and writer John Orloff


The Lady Miz Diva:  Mr. Emmerich, can you talk about Anonymousí remarkable cast and why you donít like to rehearse with your actors?

Roland Emmerich:  I have to say it was the longest casting I ever did.  It was the most interesting casting I ever did, because I didnít want to kind of put people in boxes, because I was, in a way, getting out of a box and I didnít want to box other people in. So, I didnít tell most of the people I met for what part I was seeing them.  I just wanted to talk in general about the script first and then I always asked the most important question, ďSo, which part in the movie would you like to play?Ē  And I had big surprises there.  For example, Rhys said to me without a doubt for one second of hesitation, he said ďOxford.Ē  And I was like obviously not a good actor because I said {Makes pop-eyed surprised face}.  Because I naturally had secretly put him down for Shakespeare, because heís famous for his comedic talent.  And then actually the casting director, Leo Davis immediately chipped in and said, ďOh, Rhys can be quite posh. Heís very good at playing posh.Ē  And whatever that led to, it led actually to my thinking, ďWell, heís eccentric; Oxford is eccentric.  He is probably super-enthusiastic about playing this part because, like me, he can all of a sudden he doesnít have to be funny, or naked, or anything; he can be just a different character.  And I think it shows; I think he gave the performance of a lifetime in this movie.  And so, in a way there was that and I donít like to rehearse, because I think thereís a certain tension going.  I did it a couple of times, and then I always went on the set and said, ĎI have seen that better,í at least it was in my memory better and it just drove me crazy, and I was sometimes doing thirty, forty fifty takes of something until everybody said, ďRoland, I think thatís enough. I think you can make a movie out of this.Ē  But it came from the fact that I was chasing something, I had remembered these two or three actors were doing, and I donít want to do this to actors.  I also thought thereís a certain suspense in the air the first time you see and hear a dialog between actors.


LMD:  Why did it take eight years to make Anonymous?

RE:  At the end, it was bad luck and circumstances.  I once went off and wanted to do it like six years ago, but the time was not right, technology was not right, and the budget balloon from the get-go.  We had more to begin with -- there was other times, trust me -- and so they stopped it again, which I was totally in accord with.  Then I kind of just waited for the moment.  For me, I luckily waited because I think Iím a more accomplished director now than I was then.  Secondly, technology has advanced enormously and on top of it we got this new fantastic camera.  I mean, it was like a gift from God, trust me.


LMD:  Mr. Orloff, Iím interested I some future projects of yours.

John Orloff:  The Starbucks {ďHow Starbucks Saved My LifeĒ} movie is dead.


LMD:  But there is a Starbuck movie, isnít there?

JO:  There is indeed!


LMD:  Before I ask about that, can you talk about the Terry Pratchett film {Truckers} youíre working on?  Are you able to work with Mr. Pratchett at all?

JO:  No, not at all.  Heís not well.  So, weíre just doing it on our own, which is not normally how I do adaptations, but it just sort of happened on this one.


LMD:  Are you a Terry Pratchett fan?

JO:  Yes, of course, heís brilliant.  The movieís fantastic.  Weíre in production, actually.


LMD:  So I must ask if youíre also a BSG fan?

JO:  I mean, Iím a giant BSG fan my whole life.  Iím a fan of both series.  I like them both; I think theyíre both great and you know, itís all gonna be fine.


LMD:  When will we see the Battlestar Galactica movie?

JO:  I donít know.  Weíre just starting it.


LMD:  And the Terry Pratchett film?

JO:  Pratchett is March 2015.  Itís a long way, but we have a date.



~The Lady Miz Diva

Oct. 20th, 2011




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Film stills courtesy of  Sony Pictures





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