Emma Stone is insulted in the most delectable way in her latest film. ‘I’m called ‘scullery scraps’ and ‘disloyal little b***h’. And they’re the politest ones,’ the Oscar-winning star said.
Stone appears in The Favourite, a gorgeously outrageous film — ‘some fact and some fiction’ in the words of celebrated director Yorgos Lanthimos — about the relationships between Queen Anne and her courtiers: Sarah, Duchess of Marlborough and Abigail Masham.
Olivia Colman plays the gout-ridden monarch, Rachel Weisz (who as I revealed exclusively on Mail Online gave birth to a baby girl last week) plays the Duchess, and Stone plays the maid who rises to the top. They are the most delicious performances and, being a bit of a glutton, I’ve seen the Film4 gem no fewer than three times.
Emma Stone attends the Telluride Film Festival in Colorado on September 1, 2018
Stone described Abigail as a survivor. ‘She’s been in some pretty horrible circumstances but she’s street smart; she speaks French and Latin — and writes with a quill pen,’ she said when I met up with her and Lanthimos at the Telluride Film Festival, high in the Rockies.
She and her cast mates had to be prepared for all manner of strange tasks during filming, but the worst for her, she said, was having to put steaks on Colman’s legs, as part of Abigail’s attempts to help soothe the queen’s swollen limbs.
‘I kept putting them on her legs, over and over again, with a fire raging in the fireplace. You can imagine the smell,’ Stone said. ‘It was pretty gross.’
Still, out of such horror has emerged one of the year’s best pictures. It’s in the first rank of movie making — a dangerous, delightful classic that will be out here on New Year’s Day.
Russian ballet dancer Oleg Ivenko with Ralph Fiennes. They star in new film The White Crow
Ralph Fiennes was the last person I expected to see in the Rocky Mountains. He had been given special dispensation to take a break from rehearsing Antony And Cleopatra with Sophie Okonedo at the National Theatre and go to Telluride for the premiere of his film The White Crow.
‘I’m virtual rehearsing with Sophie back in London,’ he joked.
The picture tells the story of Rudolf Nureyev’s defection to the West in 1961. But in Fiennes’ hands it’s much more than that. It’s about the emergence of a ballet superstar and the ability of great art to take your breath away. Fiennes directs and plays Nureyev’s teacher Alexander Pushkin.
Nureyev is played by Russian ballet dancer Oleg Ivenko. ‘He had emotions and attitudes that felt Nureyev-like,’ Fiennes told me. It was also essential he could dance — and boy, can he! — and possess some acting chops.
His portrait of the often haughty but brilliant ballet megastar is sublime.
Fiennes and screenwriter David Hare are interested in showing how the physical world around Nureyev influenced and informed the way he danced. The result is Fiennes’ best directorial work to date.
The White Crow shows at the BFI London Film Festival from October 18.
Natasha Gordon, who wrote the hit comedy Nine Night, at the National Theatre, London
Natasha Gordon, who wrote the hit comedy Nine Night at the National Theatre, is joining the cast when it transfers to the West End.
The play, the funniest I’ve seen this year, is about a family in London who gather for a traditional nine-day Jamaican wake.
Franc Ashman, who played Lorraine, the dutiful daughter who kept the family together, was unable to move to the Trafalgar Studios with fellow cast mates including Cecilia Noble. So actress and playwright Gordon (left) stepped up. ‘I obviously know it inside out,’ she told me, adding: ‘It’s a natural progression.’