“He was such a lovable rogue”: Helen Mirren, Jim Broadbent and cast on The Duke at the London premiere
From the director of iconic rom-com Notting Hill comes this offbeat retelling of the true story of an unlikely heist mission in 1960s Newcastle. Roger Michell, who sadly passed just weeks after The Duke premiered at the Venice Film Festival in September 2021, elicits some fantastic performances from national treasures Jim Broadbent and Helen Mirren as the eccentric, idealist, aspiring playwright Kempton Bunton and his put-upon, toilet-scrubbing wife, Dorothy.
Working-class Bunton is determined to stick it to the man and find his own small ways to rebel against the lot he is has been given in stuffy British life, which starts as a refusal to pay his TV licence, but then escalates to standing on trial for stealing one of the country’s most famous paintings: Francisco Goya’s portrait of the Duke of Wellington.
Brimming with nostalgia without being over-sentimental, sharply witty without resorting to over-the-top comedy and subtly poignant about issues such as grief, class and social justice, this is a heartwarming tale of standing up for what you believe in, whoever you are. That some of the script, such as Bunton’s moment on the stand, is taken almost word for word from the transcript, is a testament to what a funny and inspiring man he was.
The Upcoming had the privilege of chatting to the film’s cast and creatives at the premiere, aptly located at the National Gallery in London.
The amazing Mirren shared how, although she doesn’t consider the film has a message, it’s a wonderfully observed production about family dynamics with has a very British sense of humour.
Broadbent then shared what a wonderful director Michell was and the experience of recreating the era on screen.
Charlotte Spencer told us about playing Pammy, being intimidated by being on set with Broadbent and Mirren, and the appeal of sharing the true story of a loveable rogue on screen.
Fionn Whitehead then spoke about playing Kempton and Dorothy’s son Jackie, what a joy it was to work with Michell, and his upcoming role in an Emily Brontë biopic.
Aimée Kelly gave us an insight into her role as Irene, whom she calls a “renaissance woman”, and shared how much fun it was to play her.
Writers Richard Bean and Clive Coleman spoke about the genesis of the project, from Kempton’s real-life grandson approaching them with the idea to developing the script and working with Michell and an incredible cast.
The Duke is released nationwide on 25th February 2022. Watch our interview with Kempton Bunton’s grandson here. Read what the late Roger Michell, Jim Broadbent and the producer had to say about the film at the Venice Film Festival here.
Watch the trailer for The Duke here: