Tuesday, December 21, 2010

A Royal Bout of Nerviness Bagged Rush

Screenwriter David Seidler, whose latest film, “The King’s Speech,” is being eyed as an Oscar contender, said the script first came to Oscar-winning actor Geoffrey Rush’s attention through unconventional—and perhaps unethical—means.
After Seidler failed to make contact with the Australian actor’s Melbourne office—The reception was “icy”—a Seidler associate took it upon himself to pop a synopsis of the script through Rush’s home mail slot. Seidler recounted being horrified to learn that the associate had broken protocol by approaching the actor directly. But six months later Rush was attached to the project.
Seidler made his remarks during a question and answer session following a screening of “The King’s Speech” last week at Los Angeles Film School. His film and TV writing credits include the Francis Ford Coppola directed feature, “Tucker: The Man and his Dream,” as well as animated films, “Quest For Camelot” and “The King and I.”
“The King’s Speech” tells the story of King George VI (Colin Firth), who is afflicted with a dreadful stutter. The King, known to family members as “Bertie,” gets help from unconventional speech therapist Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush).
Seidler himself developed a stutter at a young age, and as a child in England was directed to listen to the king’s radio addresses as therapy. The screenwriter developed a great admiration for Bertie. Through speech therapy Seidler overcame his stammer, but his soft spot for the king remained.
He first told the “King’s Speech” story in an unproduced play that he later rewrote as a screenplay. Tom Hooper (“John Adams” TV mini-series) directed the film.
Seidler says he always takes longer to write the treatment—up to three months—than the script, although it’s a common misperception that the treatment is quick and the script takes much longer.
When it comes time to write the script the treatment can fly out the window.“The characters start talking to you,” he said. “You’d better listen, because they’re smarter than you.”

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