Andrea Riseborough W.E. Interview
Andrea Riseborough W.E. Interview
One of the most shocking scenes occurs quite early on, when Wallis is assaulted by her husband, in the bath. What was it like to shoot that scene, because it's so stark and horrible and possibly explains her mindset from then on.

Andrea Riseborough

Here's the thing – I had a director who was caring for me in each moment of that scene. You know, we'd prepared that scene, we'd prepared the way that the kick was going to happen, we knew the floor was going to be treacherously slippy and covered in water and the water had to be cold – it was the only way that we could get the location. So we were doing it for maybe six hours, it was ice-cold water. It was emotionally an horrendous thing to go through. That's one of the things that perhaps might be very interesting to people who are outside of the acting world, that when you go through those moments, you actually feel that way.

I mean, sometimes things go wrong and you do feel the kick [laughs] – but you may not be feeling the physical pain of the kick, but you are doing the same thing over and over again for six hours with that same emotional feeling of what it might have been. So you're putting your body under a huge amount of intense emotional and mental, physical strain.
How did you feel when you were looking back on the horrific bath scene you mentioned earlier? Did it take you back to filming it? Did it conjure up any feelings or could you just watch it and distance yourself?

Andrea Riseborough

The first time I watched it was a year, maybe more after we'd filmed it. Then it always feels like watching someone else. For example, since that time, I've played five different women, so when I watch it now, it's Wallis, it's our version of what might have been Wallis. And obviously it's me, I'm very aware of that fact, but I can watch it objectively. It's hard to be objective about the character when you're asked, because they live with you – you have this dual reality for such a very long time. You know, you have two opinions about everything, you have two views of the world and they sit with you for a long time, so talking about it is not always as easy as sitting back and watching and noticing it's somebody else.
Do you have a favourite scene in the film, as a flipside to that?

Andrea Riseborough

Yes, I do. In the abdication speech, there's that glorious montage of all of the parts of Edward's youth and the moment where him and Bertie are giving each other a piggy-back – but that moment with the music, everything at that moment just tore me apart. When you see them as just children, naïve souls thrown into this pit of responsibility, you know?
Can we talk about one of your co-stars, James D'Arcy? Did you click with him right away?

Andrea Riseborough

Yes. Yes. He's incredible. He's just incredible. He's so supportive. He's a wonderful actor and just he's just such great fun. We had the most wonderful time. And I have to say, with all of my husbands, my three husbands, they were all wonderful. I mean David [Harbour] is – David's improvisation was just something else and sometimes we would be in fits of giggles.
So there was room for improvisation on the set then? Did Madonna encourage that sort of thing?

Andrea Riseborough

There were many times we had to improvise because there are so many scenes with dinner parties with large groups of people and in any of those scenes there has to be something going on and there was one particular epic monologue that David Harbour gave about a woolly mammoth which just had us all crying with laughter, to the point where maybe we might not be able to carry on.
I loved your flapper girl sequence with Pretty Vacant. I think it works brilliantly. I just wondered how hard it was to get that, because first of all there's the frock that you have to hoist up to do the leg-kicking and it looks like the sort of thing that would happen but it doesn't look easy to do.

Andrea Riseborough

And the dress will be an archive piece. It was made for the film under the instruction of the great Arianne Phillips who's an extraordinary costume designer and stylist and she's really a fantastic woman and just general all-round brilliant human being. We talked about it for the longest time and I said to her, 'Ari, you do know that when this happens it's going to be complete hedonism and we're going to be throwing caution to the wind and I could be doing anything?' And we kind of looked at the dress and looked at the jewels.

The jewels actually flew off at one point. I was turning around and a necklace worth an awful, awful, awful, awful lot of money flew off my neck and the woman from Cartier caught it! It was like the 1966 World Cup. She almost came into shot. She was like, “Nooo-ho! Mon Dieu!” But we recovered, it was fine.
Did they cut anything out that you particularly hated to lose? You mentioned improvisation, so I assume some of that didn't make it?

Andrea Riseborough

I think that this version of the film is just beautiful. I think she's done such a good job, I think it's just an incredible achievement. I don't miss anything because I feel like everything has been so well cropped, reaped – I don't know what's the word. Harvested. Because I've seen two versions of it now, before this. So I thought this was really just perfect in tone.
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Content updated: 23/08/2019 03:11

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