|Leicester Square was transformed into Boleyn Alley for the big royal film premiere of Natalie Portman and Scarlett Johansson’s latest flick on Tuesday night.|
Screened in the presence of Prince Charles and Camilla and attended by Portman, Johansson and co-stars Eric Bana, David Morrissey and up-and-comer Jim Sturgess, The Other Boleyn Girl is all about Anne Boleyn (Portman) and her lesser-known sister Mary’s (Johansson) fight to win the affections of lucky old Henry VIII (Bana). It’s a tale not without the odd saucy touch, was debutante director Justin Chadwick concerned about how the royals would take to seeing their ancestors’ frisky on-screen antics?
“I spoke to them today,” said the megaphone wielder. “Camilla had read the book (Phillipa Gregory’s best-seller) and loved it and Charles was very impressed that we shot it on HD cameras, which was nice. I hope I get a reaction from them and I hope they enjoy it.”
The Prince Of Wales’ interest in the technical side of film-making assuaged, Chadwick was free to talk about the challenge of bringing a little known slice of history to life.
"Amazingly, making this was very similar to making Bleak House (the acclaimed BBC drama helmed by Chadwick). A lot of my work is about character and about performance and creating a real world. We know some of these icons from history but we don’t know all of them. We don’t know Mary’s story, we don’t really know about the young Henry and I just wanted to scratch away under the surface of the period and get what was going on behind closed palace doors.
“We did our research but at some point you have to put the research to one side,” he continued. “You know, we’re doing a really cracking fast-paced story with real characters, so we said, ‘Let’s give these characters real depth and meaning’. That’s what I hope we’ve achieved with the film, telling a story that people don’t know and hopefully having not done it in that kind of boring history movie way where there’s a big landscape and a horse and carriage coming up the road really slowly - this is a fast-paced story with real people and real emotion.”
Having done the big-name ensemble cast thing with Bleak House, was Chadwick ever intimidated with an even more impressive roster of big names on this project?
“You know, it’s only really now when you hear people crying out for Scarlett and Natalie that you realise they’re really famous,” he said. “When we were making it, it was very normal. It was all about getting to the truth of each scene and the truth of the story. They were incredibly open and professional, very warm-hearted actors who were a joy to work with.”
So what’s next for the Brit director?
“Birdsong (the World War One-based novel by Sebastian Faulks), I’ve been developing that with Working Title and I’ve got a great script from Abi Morgan and it’s a fantastic, moving and important story to tell. I’m shooting that this summer. I’ve met people and I’ve got some screen tests in a couple of weeks, so I’ll let you know.”
The Other Boleyn Girl is released on March 7.