Legend: Family of Reggie Kray's wife Frances left 'mortified' after watching Tom Hardy film

Relatives claim they were not approached for input by director Brian Helgeland

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The Independent Culture

The niece of Reggie Kray's wife has expressed her disgust after upcoming movie Legend left her feeling "mortified".

*This article contains possible spoilers*

Frances Shea had to refrain herself from chucking a bottle of a water at the cinema screen when she and daughter Bonny were shown a preview of the new Tom Hardy film about infamous mobster twins Ronnie and Reggie.

Shea's aunt, also called Frances but known as Franie by her family, is played by Australian actress Emily Browning in the biopic but, according to Shea, relatives were not asked for their input by either Oscar-winning writer and director Brian Helgeland or producers.

"I was mortified to see the huge part that my Franie was given, the film seemed to play around her as she provides the narration throughout," Frances told the Express.

"I want to know if Mr Helgeland thought about contacting living relatives of her to get a real picture of what this woman was like. I have nothing against the cast of this film, Tom Hardy and Emily Browning are great actors, but they did not have the right ingredients and they did not catch the essence of any of the people I remember, my father, my aunt and my nan."

Legend is being sold as a "true crime Romeo and Juliet", but the Shea family feel that their emotions have not been considered, particularly when scenes showing Franie's suicide are involved.

Franie met Reggie aged 16 when he rang her door bell wanting her brother Frankie, who served as their driver around the East End in the Sixties. Despite an almost 10-year age gap, Franie and Reggie fell in love and were married, but she tragically ended her own life by taking an overdose just two years later. She suffered from mental health problems and was only 23.

Frances, 52, found it hard to sit through the most harrowing moments in the film and dismisses Franie's thoughts as "from [the filmmakers'] own vivid imagination".

"I had to leave at a certain point," she said. "I could feel my daughter sitting next to me throughout that film and I could feel her sobs. [Franie] provided the narration throughout the film sounding common as muck and looking like a little two-bit trollope.

"It's not alright to come to the East End and dip your toe in for a month or two and then think you know the whole East End story."

Bonny added that the pride she once felt for her full name Bonny Frances Shea has faded after seeing Legend and she is struggling with stress after allegedly being ignored by filmmakers.

"I emailed everyone I could find connected with the film to raise my concerns and not one person got back to me," she said. "Because no-one was interested I ended up quitting my job through the stress, I am having anxiety attacks, I barely sleep, I feel vulnerable."


Franie died in Frances' bed in her father Frankie's Hoxton flat while she was staying at a friend's house, and the events still haunt her today.

"Franie used to say she would never do anything silly with me there, so I lived with the guilt of that for a long time because I was not there and she took her own life," Frances said. "I kissed her and Reggie goodbye and never saw them again, as she took her life and he want to prison soon after."

Representatives for Brian Helgeland are yet to respond to our request for comment.

Legend reaches UK cinemas on 11 September.