'The King's Speech': If all else should fail, try junk mail

How the makers of 'The King's Speech' resorted to desperate measures to get their star

It has won a swathe of nominations for the Golden Globes and is tipped to win big at the Academy Awards later this year. But The King's Speech, the story of how King George VI overcame his stammer, was just a letterbox delivery away from never getting made.

While preparing the project, the film's production team provoked the ire of one of the film's stars, Geoffrey Rush, by taking the unorthodox step of posting the movie script through his home letterbox in Melbourne, Australia.

Rush's management wrote the filmmakers a furious email for their impertinence. Despite this, Rush accepted the role of Lionel Logue, the King's speech therapist. The film is released in Britain on Friday.

"We needed the weight of attaching some key cast," said the film's producer, Gareth Unwin of Bedlam Productions. "Joan Lane [theatre producer and agent to David Seidler, who wrote the original script] realised rather brazenly (and told us after the fact) she knew someone who lived two doors down from Geoffrey. We took the rather audacious move of posting the script in a brown envelope through his door.

"This flies against every fibre of me knowing how the business works. I ended up with a four-page email from his manager tearing me a new one. But it finished off with Geoffrey saying he liked it and that we should talk. We wouldn't have got to talk to Geoffrey at that stage otherwise. Joan was audacious in her thinking and it did pay off."

Publicly, Rush claims he was immediately intrigued by the script. "I live in a very leafy suburb in Melbourne, and this brown paper package was on my front doormat one day, and I thought, 'Oh, this is interesting'," he told US-based Interview magazine. "It was lying there like an orphan... The attached letter basically said, 'Excuse the invasion, and for not going through the protocol of your agent, but we're desperate for you to know that this script exists, because there is a wonderful role that we would love for you to consider.' So I read it."

The movie, which also stars Colin Firth, Helena Bonham Carter and Guy Pearce, tells the story of how King George VI ascended to the throne despite his terrible stutter, after his brother Edward VIII abdicated to marry Wallis Simpson. Encouraged by his wife Queen Elizabeth, played by Bonham Carter, King George is also trained to overcome his stutter by Logue. The monarch then became a comforting voice to his subjects via the radio as the country was plunged into the Second World War.

The film is directed by The Damned United's Tom Hooper, and also features Timothy Spall as Winston Churchill. The British-based co-producers claim Rush's involvement was instrumental in winning the film's financiers, which include the UK Film Council. The film is distributed in the US by The Weinstein Company, and in Britain by Momentum Pictures. The King's Speech was originally written by Seidler as a stage play, before being adapted for the big screen. Rush is credited as one of the film's co-producers.

Rush was born in 1951 in Queensland, Australia, making his stage debut aged 20 with the Queensland Theatre Company. His early film career was inauspicious until he wowed audiences in 1996's Shine, the story of piano prodigy David Helfgott.

He has since appeared in a number of historical films, including 1998's Elizabeth, 2000's Quills and 2002's Frida. A versatile actor comfortable with eccentric characters, younger audiences may know Rush best for his turn as the evil pirate Hector Barbossa in the Pirates of the Caribbean films. He has married film roles with a buoyant theatre career, last year making his Broadway debut in Exit the King, opposite Susan Sarandon.

News

literature

News
Dermot O'Leary attends the X Factor Wembley Arena auditions at Wembley on August 1, 2014 in London, England.

television

News
news
Arts and Entertainment
At this year's SXSW festival in Austin, Texas

Music Why this music festival is still the place to spot the next big thing

Arts and Entertainment
Russell Tovey, Myanna Buring and Julian Rhind Tutt star in Banished
tvReview: The latest episode was a smidgen less depressing... but it’s hardly a bonza beach party
Arts and Entertainment
‘The Royals’ – a ‘twisted, soapy take on England’s first family’
tv Some of the characters appear to have clear real-life counterparts
News
Brooks is among a dozen show-business professionals ever to have achieved Egot status
people
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
A cut above: Sean Penn is outclassed by Mark Rylance in The Gunman
film review
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
James Franco and Zachary Quinto in I Am Michael

Film review Michael Glatze biopic isn't about a self-hating gay man gone straight

Arts and Entertainment
A scene from the movie 'Get Hard'
tvWill Ferrell’s new film Get Hard receives its first reviews
Arts and Entertainment
Left to right: David Cameron (Mark Dexter), Nick Clegg (Bertie Carvel) and Gordon Brown (Ian Grieve)
tvReview: Ian Grieve gets another chance to play Gordon Brown... this is the kinder version
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman in the first look picture from next year's Sherlock special

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Because it wouldn’t be Glastonbury without people kicking off about the headline acts, a petition has already been launched to stop Kanye West performing on the Saturday night

music
Arts and Entertainment
Molly Risker, Helen Monks, Caden-Ellis Wall, Rebekah Staton, Erin Freeman, Philip Jackson and Alexa Davies in ‘Raised by Wolves’

TV review
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
James May, Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond in the Top Gear Patagonia Special

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Game of Thrones will run for ten years if HBO gets its way but showrunners have mentioned ending it after seven

Game of Thrones
Arts and Entertainment
Mans Zelmerlow will perform 'Heroes' for Sweden at the Eurovision Song Contest 2015

music
Arts and Entertainment
Elizabeth (Heida Reed) and Ross Poldark (Aiden Turner) in the BBC's remake of their 1975 original Poldark

Poldark review
Arts and Entertainment
Daniel Craig as James Bond in Skyfall

Mexican government reportedly paying Bond producers for positive portrayal in new filmfilm
Arts and Entertainment
Disney’s flying baby elephant is set to return in live-action format
filmWith sequels, prequels and spin-offs, Disney plays it safe... and makes a pachyderm
Arts and Entertainment
Nazrin with Syf, Camden
photography
News
The QI Elves photographed at the Soho Theatre. They are part of a team of researchers who find facts for the television programme 'QI'.
people
Arts and Entertainment
‘The Royals’ – a ‘twisted, soapy take on England’s first family’
tv0-star review: Sean O'Grady gives it his best shot anyway
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

    The saffron censorship that governs India

    Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
    Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

    Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

    Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
    Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

    How did fandom get so dark?

    Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
    The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

    The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

    Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
    The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

    Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

    Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
    Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

    Disney's mega money-making formula

    'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
    Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

    Lobster has gone mainstream

    Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
    Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

    14 best Easter decorations

    Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
    Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

    Paul Scholes column

    Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
    Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

    The future of GM

    The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
    Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

    Britain's mild winters could be numbered

    Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
    Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

    Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

    Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
    Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

    The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

    The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
    Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

    Cowslips vs honeysuckle

    It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
    Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

    Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

    A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss