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Oscars 2011: Best Director Tom Hooper Talks King's Speech's "Man Love" at Backstage Interview

Thompson on Hollywood By Sophia Savage | Thompson on Hollywood February 28, 2011 at 6:26AM

Best Director: Tom Hooper, The King's Speech
Thompson on Hollywood

Best Director: Tom Hooper, The King's Speech

ONSTAGE SPEECH: "Wow, thank you to all the members of the Academy. This is an extraordinary honor. I'd like to congratulate my fellow nominees, Darren, David, David, Joel, and Ethan. Your work this year has been extraordinary. I'm honored to be nominated alongside you. Thank you to my wonderful actors. The triangle of man love which is Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush, and me. I'm only here because of you guys and Helena, I hope that reference doesn't make you too jealous. Thank you to all my cast, to my wonderful crew, to my producers, Iain, Gareth, and Emile, to David Seidler, whose extraordinary journey from childhood stammerer to the stage of the Kodak I find so profoundly moving.

Most of all, thank you to my parents, my mum and dad, who are in the audience tonight. And I know there's been a lot of thanking of mums, but this is slightly different because my mum in 2007 was invited by some Australian friends, she's Australian in London, to a fringe theater play reading of an unproduced, unrehearsed play called The King's Speech. Now she's never been invited to a play reading in her entire life before, she almost didn't go because it didn't sound exactly promising, but thank God she did because she came home, rang me up and said, 'Tom, I think I found your next film.' So with this tonight, I honor you, and the moral of the story is listen to your mother."

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Q: I would just like to ask you to expand on the trio of man love that you mentioned on stage (laughter) and how important that was.

A: "I think Geoffrey, Colin and I have an extraordinary connection.  We had a rehearsal period of about three weeks where we workshopped the script, worked daily on the script.  And I just  I think we became incredibly good friends and became close in that rehearsal period.  And we will be good friends, we will be friends for life.  And I think there's something about I don't know.  There's something about in the way I would be shooting them, the fact that I like them so much as people, probably probably is in the DNA of the movie, and they're liking for each other is in the DNA in the movie.  There's a lot of kindness in the movie, a lot of compassion in the movie, and along side, in a professional relationship we respect each other so much was probably what Geoffrey Rush is jokingly referred to as something a bit more."

Q: Both David and Colin had both expressed tonight how they have gotten e mails and calls and letters from people who have been transformed by this film, and I am just wondering what has been your    what has been the reaction to it on a personal level to you?

A: "I mean, I'm continually astonished by the, you know, the personal stories I encounter of how this film has changed people from a woman I met at a London screening, who saw it three times and had a late who had a brain aneurysm, from a late onset stammerer in middle age and saying how grateful she was to the movie to a friend of mine, who actually, after coming through a screening of The King's Speech and seeing the film    seeing the scene where it talks about the about not being letting go of letting go of the father's expectations.  This friend of mine actually started to come out after The King's Speech because he realized he was trying to live up to his father and not look after himself, and that scene inspired him to be someone he'd never been before, to a woman I met yesterday, who had seen the film six times and said she had been praying that it goes home with an Oscar.

So, it does seem to touch people in the most extraordinary way across the age range from nine to 90, across cultures, across all sorts of boundaries, and seems to have this extraordinary democratic reach, which is you know, and I made films I hope people want to see, and the greatest reward is being that something that was so personal to me that I wasn't making for, you know I wasn't trying to make a blockbuster.  I was just trying to make something personal and from my heart.  The fact that's connected in an extraordinary democratic way is very touching."

Q: The King overcomes his greatest fear to seek speech therapy and ultimately give the speech.  Since you've explored this subject, what advice do you have for service members who need to overcome their greatest fears on a daily basis in these wars?

A: "It's a very good question.  I think I think that the film is about the power of friendship.  And I think the armed forces, more than many people, understand the importance of camaraderie, the importance of the friends you make on the frontline to get you through the fear, to get you through the anxiety.  And I think what the film is saying is sometimes the way to conquer your fears is not by turning into yourself, it's about turning out to others, it's looking to those around you, finding that friendship in your team that allows you to share your burden.  And I think the military have a great tradition of understanding that it is often through the group that you find power."

[Courtesy of the © Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.]

This article is related to: Awards, Directors, Oscars, Tom Hooper

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Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.