April 23, 2014

Oscars: “The King’s Speech” royalty Claire Bloom on Firth, Rush, Hooper and The Queen


By Sean O’Connell
Hollywoodnews.com: She has collaborated with Woody Allen. She shared the London stage with acting titans like Richard Burton and John Gielgud. She acted alongside Charlie Chaplin on film, and even turned up in Sylvester Stallone’s “Daylight” (in case you unnecessarily feared it was all pomp and circumstance for this award-winning British talent).

But on the eve of this year’s Academy Award nominations, Claire Bloom is talking to HollywoodNews.com about her involvement in “The King’s Speech,” as Tom Hooper’s crowd-pleasing historical drama is expected to be an Oscar juggernaut once the noms are revealed Tuesday morning.

“It’s very, very thrilling to be part of a great film,” Bloom, 79, told us by phone from London. The stage and screen icon plays Queen Mary in the film, a support system for Colin Firth’s stammering King George VI as well as Guy Pearce’s responsibility shirking Edward XIII.

“It doesn’t happen often,” Bloom continued. “And you certainly don’t know it while you are making it. I thought it was going to be splendid and I recognized that both Colin and Guy were superb. I didn’t get to see Geoffrey Rush, because he’d done his role. But you kind of know instinctively if something is going to be first-rate or not, and I knew that this was going to be.”

When asked how Bloom was lucky enough to find herself in a royal role for Hooper’s production, she modestly responds, “I was asked to be in it.” Her agent gave her the script, and she recognized David Seidler’s screenplay was “pretty terrific, and one that I very much wanted to be a part of.”

“I admired Tom Hooper from the ‘John Adams’ miniseries, which I thought was just one of the most outstanding television programs I had seen,” Bloom continued. “But when I found out that my two sons would be Colin Firth and Guy Pearce, that kind of settled that.”

Perhaps Bloom helped secure the role by telling Hooper about the time she actually met Queen Mary.

“I was so young,” Bloom recalls. “I was 18. It was very brief. She came to the play that I was in. And you were, as they say, presented to her in the intermission. It was very quick, and you’d curtsey. Of course, I’d never met royalty then, and I didn’t quite know how to behave. And I remember saying, ‘But I can’t meet the Queen. I’ve got a quick costume change!’ And the manager of the theater said to me, ‘You know, I think they’ll wait for you.’ I didn’t quite understand that the Queen came first!”

And while Bloom says she didn’t have any experiences in her personal or professional life with speech impediments, she certainly understands the rigors of an awards campaign, having been through it a few times before. Bloom has been nominated for three BAFTA Awards and an Emmy over the course of her career.

“It’s invigorating, but the great thing this time out is that I’m not up for any of the individual awards,” Bloom said. “If I were, I’m sure I would find it terribly stressful. I just find it rather exciting from this perspective. … As it is, I want my co-stars to win. But it isn’t quite the same thing as when you are running that race.”

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About Sean O'Connell

Sean O'Connell is a nationally recognized film critic. His reviews have been published in print ('The Washington Post,' 'USA Today') and online (AMC FilmCritic.com, MSN's Citysearch) since 1996. He's a weekly contributor to several national radio programs. He is a longstanding member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association (BFCA), the Online Film Critics Society (OFCS), and the Southeastern Film Critics View all articles by Sean O'Connell Association (SEFCA).

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