The Happy Prince press conference with Rupert Everett and Emily Watson
In his directorial debut, actor Rupert Everett has opted for an affectionate tribute to Oscar Wilde, in which he also plays the lead role. Though sentimental, The Happy Prince doesn’t blindly idolise Wilde, and Everett has delivered a nuanced portrait centred around the poet’s last, almost decrepit days in Paris. The actor and director faced the press at the 2018 Berlin Film Festival, along with his co-star Emily Watson.
An openly gay actor and filmmaker himself, Everett suggested that contemporary gay rights and acceptance can be traced back to Wilde, who spent two years in jail for the simple fact of having had sex with another man. The Happy Prince’s director also pointed out that while many gay men across the globe have never had it better, saying it can be great to be gay, he also said he was troubled by attitudes towards gay men in some countries, singling out Russia.
Speaking about his motivation for making the film, Everett talked about how his mother read him Wilde’s The Happy Prince when he was a child. “I was about six or seven years old, and it was my first meeting with Oscar Wilde. I remember it mostly for how my mother was dressed. She was dressed rather like Jackie Kennedy, and she had big white earrings, a mini dress and short hair, and I remember her saying ‘swallow, swallow, little swallow’ and it was a very brave thing for her to read for me. She’s quite a conventional woman, and it started off a relationship, which ends here… hopefully.”
When speaking about Wilde’s destructive and cruel nature to the people he loved, Watson (who plays Wilde’s betrayed and abandoned wife Constance) said, “He was somebody I thought it was really difficult not to love, however cruel he was and however cruel the situation was. He had a fire in him that was so attractive, and I think that if their relationship was in modern times, it would be very quickly discovered between them what the situation was, and they would quickly move on. I think they would still be friends. They had lots in common and at the beginning they were great together, but this situation was so cruel. I think she loved him to the end.”
The Happy Prince does not have a UK release date yet. Read our review here.
Read more reviews and interviews from our Berlin Film Festival 2018 coverage here.
For further information about the event visit the Berlin Film Festival 2018.