James D'Arcy Interview
James D'Arcy Interview
There was a lot of material and I read all of it, and it’s all contradictory. But ultimately I can’t play all of those books. I must have read 15 books, and there’s some elements of this which are just not truthful. I’m over six foot and he’s not. I didn’t cut my legs off at the knees in order to play the role. And also he doesn’t sound anything like I did in the film. You can go online and hear him abdicate, and he sounds very weedy indeed, and it’s unexpected because you see these pictures of this young man and he was very beautiful and he was the most photographed man in the world at the time. And he was a major fashion icon and he single handedly invented turn ups and zips and stuff like that, and changed the way that we all dress.

But then you hear him speak when he abdicates and you think ‘Oh my Lord!’ And I understood that because beyond everything that I’m saying to you about not being historians and not making a documentary, this is a story told through Wally’s eyes, through a modern day character’s eyes, so it’s her idea of what that relationship looked like. It doesn’t even have to be ‘the truth’ although I don’t think that it is unfaithful to history.

I think the truth is there are lots of people in this country who, if they know anything at all about Edward and Wallis, they KNOW IT! Whatever it is they know it. And people don’t discuss it with me, they tell me. I find myself nodding along going ‘Oh that’s interesting, I hadn’t thought about it like that.’ Because people don’t really want to have a discussion about it, they want to tell me who they were. And they were Nazi sympathisers, she did have a penis, he was gay, or he had no penis, or she knew everything from brothels and all the rest of this stuff. Those are the main headlines that you get. And I don’t have any view on it. We just told this story.
They were Nazi sympathisers, she did have a penis, he was gay, or he had no penis, she knew everything from brothels...
There's a school of thought that he let down his country, but the film shows the vulnerability of the man when he overhears Elizabeth call him a Nazi and the woman he loves a trollop.

James D'Arcy

Right. But it had to be that way because the Second World War was about to break out and he was a new king and he was not the man who was groomed to be king and the public knew nothing about Wallis until two weeks before he abdicated. There had to be some propaganda put in place, which was that Edward would have been a terrible king. It has to be kept that way, and he had to be kept out of Britain, he couldn’t be brought back into the fold because it’s too confusing for the British public.
Were they worried about revolution?

James D'Arcy

I am unqualified to answer that question, I’ll be honest. But what I really liked about the script is that what one thinks one knows about Edward and Wallis is normally big headlines, it’s broad brushstrokes, and because it’s about the king it’s so far removed that it’s got nothing to do with me. They’re just a bunch of crazies who ran the country. But because of the modern day story I think it hopefully takes this very, very universal story which is: what would you be prepared to do for love, where does it stop for you? And because of the localised version of it in the modern day story, it hopefully helps us – the audience – get some sense of how it might have been for them just because it’s global.
People had never considered that she gave stuff up too.

James D'Arcy

Right, sure. That’s the other thing that I liked about this film, it’s a film about women, it’s a film about strong women and it’s a film that is made by a strong woman. And there aren’t that many films that are made like that. Most films are very male centric, so I actually found it something of a privilege to be involved in a film that is skewed slightly differently. It’s important for all these different stories to be told, but I really liked that it was a story about women.
And was that a wig?

James D'Arcy

Actually it is a wig. It’s a really good wig. There is one scene in which I’m not wearing a wig, but I won’t tell you which one it is, you’ll have to go and watch it again.
You weren't inspired to become a blond then?

James D'Arcy

I was blond, we were uncertain whether to use the wig or not use the wig, but the wig did something that my own hair didn’t. It’s difficult to describe without showing you two photographs, but the wig kind of added some gravitas that my own hair slightly didn’t.
The wig was a better actor than your hair?

James D'Arcy

I’m afraid that’s the truth. My hair is much too frivolous.
Do you have a favourite scene in the film?

James D'Arcy

Yeah, the bagpipe scene that’s not in the film.
But the world will know and should Hollywood need a piper ...

James D'Arcy

With that one song. And to be clear ... John Angus was proud. I worked with him in London. I think it’s already on YouTube, not the scene but there’s a making of thing which in part covers the bagpipe learning scenario. So it’s not like no-one in the world will know I played the bagpipes.
Was it accurate in historical terms ...

James D'Arcy

Genuinely I think I was a better bagpiper than Edward. Although he apparently did write a song that wasn’t bad. He wrote a tune, I don’t know what it was, it’s no Greensleeves, but he wrote something that his Dad said ‘That’s quite good, what’s that?’ And it was one of the few times that he impressed him, because his Dad didn’t know it was him when he was enjoying it.
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Content updated: 25/04/2019 20:50

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