Rhys Ifans and Vanessa Redgrave talk Shakespearian purists at the Anonymous Press conference
It’s been a while since a film has caused so much contention as Anonymous. The film, exploring the theory that William Shakespeare was a fraud, has caused quite a stir ahead of its release on October 28.
To further such controversy, the stars of Roland Emmerich’s production were backing the controversial theory, claiming that Shakespeare could well have been a hoax.
Speaking at the press conference for the film, Emmerich was joined by various members of his cast, such as Vanessa Redgrave, Rafe Spall, Rhys Ifans, Joely Richardson, David Thewlis and Jamie Campbell Bower.
“I was always aware of the authorship debate but never interested by it particularly because the body of work that we all have speaks for itself I think,” Ifans said.
“But in reading Shakespeare and reading about Edward De Vere, it’s quite apparent that when you read these works that whoever penned these beautiful body of work, was one - well travelled, two - a multi-linguist, and three - had an innate knowledge of the inner workings and the mechanisms of a very secretive and paramount Elizabethan era.
“De Vere ticks those three boxes; William of Stratford gave his wife a bed when he died.”
Director Emmerich echoed such sentiments. “To believe one man wrote these plays, Shakespeare is not really the right candidate for me, and whatever you read about him doesn’t feel like the career of the writer,” he said.
“If you look at the Earl of Oxford and the work, there is quite a correlation, a lot of overlapping things, quite striking in a way. I was quite overawed; this is a movie that shows a different picture of everything.”
However, such views were not shared by Spall, who treated this project simply as a film and has attempted to ignore the controversial aspects surrounding its release.
“I don’t really care about it – I care about telling a story and I care about the work and that this film does is put these plays in a social-political context.
“Its just a story and a set of events. If people go and see Shakespeare plays with a different set of eyes, that’s all I care about. I just want to be in good films that tells good stories and even though this deals with an academic subject matter, this is a film for everyone, and that’s what I’m more interested in being a part of,” Spall finished.
When asked if the stars had any apprehensions towards their roles, given that this is a feature that could well unsettle many Shakespearian purists, the said question was met with a resounding ‘no’..
“I’m always apprehensive before starting any project. I wasn’t nervous about the story because of the subject matter, I was inspired,” Bower said.
Thewlis also agreed that his initial feelings on taking on such a role was more elation, as opposed to apprehension.
“It’s just fascinating. I’ve got a very open mind to it and I don’t know what I feel either way I think its just great fun to think about, just as it would to find out that Prince Edward is the author of the Ken Loach films, the film should just be enjoyed and we shouldn’t get too serious about it. I relished the idea,” he said.
Ifans, who played the Earl of Oxford – whom the film claims to be the real Shakespeare, also disregarded any disapproval towards the films subject matter.
“I’ve sat through many a play when I’ve wished I had gone to the theatre, but this is a film that makes me want to go to the theatre and I think that’s the enduring message,” he concluded.
Renowned Shakespearian actress Redgrave, who played Queen Elizabeth, also had only positive words to say about the political thriller.
“I think the film is a celebration of theatre and communication, not for a message necessarily, but for a deepening of our understanding and our love of life, and excitement.”
ANONYMOUS IS OUT OCTOBER 28