We talk to Rupert Friend about Queen Victoria’s coming of age story.
Rupert Friend stars in this weekend’s ‘The Young Victoria’, a coming of age story about young Queen Victoria, her ascension to the throne and her lasting love affair and marriage to Prince Albert. Movies.ie spoke to Rupert Friend, who recently starred in ‘The boy in the striped pyjamas’ about his role in film.
How well do you feel a film about an English monarch will be received by an Irish audience? I think the main thing is that it’s a love story above anything else and although, obviously, it’s dealing with a real historical period which lends it some kind of weight, what we have at the heart of it is a genuine, passionate and lasting love affair. I think the appeal of that is global.
You play Prince Albert in the film. What drew you to the character? I think the fact that he had such an enduring and passionate love affair with a woman who he, in fact, was arranged to marry. This arranged and difficult political situation led to a very genuine and lasting love affair.
Did you know much about Prince Albert before you did the film? No, nothing at all! It was a big voyage of discovery for me and I kind of fell in love with him as I was learning more about him. I realised that he’s one of those historical figures that is not really explored as much as he perhaps should be because his story is fascinating and his effect on life as we know it today has been incredible.
Do you feel that he was overshadowed by Queen Victoria? I think that’s what he would have wanted in a funny sort of way. Although they very much ruled together, he always wanted to be behind the scenes, he wasn’t a public figure, he liked to allow her a degree of limelight and that’s a testimony to the strength of his respect for her.
Is a marked difference between Prince Albert’s public and private personas in the film? Definitely. The classic moment is really at the end of the film when you see them laughing together like children and just loving one another’s company until the moment when the doors open and they are on public display. Then they adopt the regal personas that we imagine of official events of the time. There’s certainly that playfulness, it’s very much apparent in their relationship.
Prince Albert is thrust into the limelight quite quickly, what do you think was the hardest thing for him to deal with in relation to this? In a funny sort of way I think it’s not really that quick for him. He is a prince in his own land; he is part of nobility and royalty already. The big difference for him really is that he is a foreigner. I think that’s one of the hardest things, trying to deal with the fact that the English public didn’t accept him.
At one point in the film Queen Victoria says she intends to “dance until dawn”. This is a far cry from the austere monarch that the public know her as. Do you think this film could reinvent her image? I think so yeah. I think that definitely something Emily (Blunt) has achieved brilliantly with the film is reminding us that this is a young girl who wants to dance and love and drink champagne and have fun and ride horses and do all the things that she loves doing and yet has this enormous responsibility on her shoulders. What you see with Emily’s performance is very much the human, real woman that we can all relate to.
Emily said that you are “the definition of a real man” in The Young Victoria. How do you feel about that? I think what she means is that Albert is the definition of a real man because he was selfless in his approach to pretty much everything, in the sense that he put her first in the relationship. He put her country above his, he put her people above his, and he really dedicated himself to others. I think that degree of selflessness is incredibly manly.
You are arguably best known for playing historical roles, would you like to do a superhero film or a rom-com? I think The Young Victoria was definitely the most romantic thing that I had read to date. For me this is… I don’t know if it’s a comedy, but it’s definitely a romance. In a funny sort of way, Albert is kind of a superhero to me; he is one of those real unsung heroes that we don’t know enough about. So I think it ticks both of those boxes actually!
Words : Brogen Hayes The Young Victoria is showing in Irish Cinemas from March 6th