Interview with Rupert Everett
Director, & Star of “The Happy Prince”
Texas, October 19, 2018
led you to working on this project?
feeling was that Wilde was not that grave, serious, intellectual.
The previous works have been more reverential, treating him more as
an icon. But he was more of a
character. I thought I had a
good angle on making a new version. Oscar
Wilde was an entertainer; he loved performing, even in exile.
about the deathbed conversion to Christianity?
flirted with Catholicism all his life.
But he never actually joined. And
of course it rejected him, along with the rest of society, when he was
imprisoned for being a homosexual. He
even applied to stay in a Jesuit monastery after his release from prison,
and they refused.
even though the priest says, “There's been many a repentance between the
stirrup and the ground,” you don't think of Wilde as being an authentic
bit actually happened, as did the funny bit about Bosie falling into the
grave. There's nothing
imagined in the whole story. It's
all referenced in some way, except for Oscar standing on the table and
singing. But I wanted to draw
a parallel between his previous life of stage fame, and how he continued
to perform after his exile. But
he's not a victim, he retains his fascination for life, and his curiosity.
He made the most of his life. And
that's what I find inspiring about him.
But once he went back to Bosie, it was all over for him.
No chance of rehabilitation after that.
And no more getting back with his wife or his sons.
RS: He can
only imagine them on his deathbed.
and apologize to them.
said at the end “I wrote when I knew nothing of life.
Now that I have lived it, there's nothing to write.” But he was
also incredibly lazy. Depression
and laziness go together. Especially
at the end. But he could still come up with these incredible quips, like
“I'm dying beyond my means.” And
when someone else said of Bosie, “He doesn't know the value of
anything,” Wilde responded, “Nor does he know the price,
RS: How do
you convey brilliance, in a film?
you can't really, and I decided not to try.
I thought I must concentrate on what's happening to him
psychologically, and not obsess about it being clever enough or funny
enough or witty enough.
RS: As a
Director, did you insist on literal adherence to your script?
could really improvise?
RE: No, I
didn't want any improvisation. Rather
strict about that really. Especially
for this 19th century dialogue.
was the most challenging thing about being both Director and actor?
most important thing a Director can do is set the pace.
It's not about characterization, it's about pacing.
Go too slow and everybody in the audience loses patience.
Go too fast, and the audience gives up because they can't keep up.
So pacing is paramount. The
challenge was being the Director and keeping up the pace for all the other
actors, but then I would have to jump into a scene, like on the deathbed,
and I would have to make a difficult transition.
the Oscar Wilde of our generation?
a difficult question. He was
so much a man of his time, but I'm not sure anyone today is anything like
him, especially the pure genius of something like “The Importance of
Being Earnest,” which was the top of his form.