Movie Synopsis

The Lost King: Exclusive Interview With Writer Jeff Pope

Summary : In this inspiring true story, amateur historian Philippa Langley believes she has made the archaeological find of the century: the lost tomb of King Richard III. She takes on the greatest British historians and forces them to reconsider the legacy of one of the most controversial rulers in English history.

  • Evaluation: PG-13 (Brief Suggestive References|Some Strong Language)
  • Genre: comedy, drama
  • original language: English
  • Directed by Stephen Frears
  • Producer: Steve Coogan, Christine Langan, Dan Winch, Wendy Griffin
  • Writer: Steve Coogan, Jeff Pope
  • Release date (cinemas): Limited
  • Release Date (Streaming):
  • Duration:
  • Distributor: IFC films

Exclusive interview with co-author Jeff Pope

Q: You and Steve [Coogan, co-writer] Read Philippa Langley’s two books before developing the script. How did you work with Steven and how much did you talk to Philippa before writing the screenplay?

JP: Yes, we’ve been spending a lot of time with Philippa who lives in Edinburgh. We had numerous conversations, but there was a specific time when we spent three or four days with her. We walked around the city and discussed many aspects of the story with her.

And there were many other books. One in particular I remember was written by John Ashdown-Hill, the late historian [The Last Days of Richard III (and the Fate of His DNA), 2013]. And also books written before the discovery of Richard III’s remains. were written about his life. So that we not only understood Philippa’s story, but also Richard’s story.

Q: There’s also a documentary, right?

JP: Yes, it was broadcast on British TV and it was “[Richard III:] The king of the parking lot [dir. Louise Osmond and Pete Woods, 2013].

Q: Good title. Why do you think people like Richard III. see so bad, is it because of shakespeare’s play?

JP: Yes, it is, yes. He is perhaps one of the most maligned monarchs, certainly in British history. There is a line in the film that reflects this. One of the most interesting discoveries was the time gap between them the deaths of Richard III and Shakespeare, who wrote his play Richard III, and there are more than a hundred years between these two events.

I have to admit I’ve always felt that Shakespeare – in my mind I think he’s writing some kind of contemporary history, something that happened maybe five or ten years ago. But that’s three generations ago, which got us thinking about the notion that Shakespeare used the Tudor version of Richard’s story, and not necessarily an unbiased version of his story.

Q: Although Philippa raised all of the funding, the university withdrew funding with Richard Buckley (played by Mark Addy). Why is the university leading the search or digging? Why was she excluded from the press conferences? Do you think they’re afraid of losing credibility by putting Philippa on the podium?

JP: Yes, what happened here is two things. For me, the main conclusion I came to with Steve was that Philippa was the remains of Richard III. found in part through research and academic study. She looked at what was written in the past. But a big part of the reason she found him was her intuition. That whole sequence where she’s standing in the parking lot and she gets a weird feeling and she looks down and sees the letter ‘R’ painted – it all happened. That was a feeling. That was intuition, and academics are suspicious of it. It’s outside of their comfort zone. I think the university was a bit embarrassed that a middle-aged Edinburgh housewife found him when she couldn’t.

Q: Part of the appeal of this film is the relationship between Philippa and her ex-husband John [played by Steve Coogan]. How did you construct their relationship in the script when you balance that with their exploration?

JP: My big thing as a writer is that I tend to be drawn to stories that are based on actual events because it avoids cliches because we all act, speak and express ourselves differently. So what I liked when we delved into this was that there was something interesting and non-cliché about John and Philippa and that they shared their sons but were happily divorced. There was a sadness on both sides that they weren’t together, but still a realization that if they were together, it wouldn’t work. There were no other people involved, no bitterness – just a kind of sad realization on both sides that they wouldn’t be spending the rest of their lives together. We found it really interesting to accurately reflect this rather than trying to fit it into some sort of Academic subject.

Q: It is said that history is often written by the winners. During the adaptation process and your research on Richard III, what were the things that surprised you the most that you didn’t know about?

JP: Well you are right that history is written by the victors and in a way – until this film came along – the story of how Richard III was found was written more by Leicester University than by Philippa.

What really surprised me was the innocent until proven principle of Richard III’s English lore. So much came out of it because you think, “That doesn’t sound like a despot”. That doesn’t sound like an evil person – effectively a dictator in this day and age. You know, a Stalin or a Hitler; The last thing they wanted was a fair trial. Yes, that was the most fascinating thing we discovered.

Q: How much was originally written in the book’s portrayal of Richard III and how much did you reflect on the film?

JP: Well we had all the basics from Shakespeare that Richard was evil and that he murdered the princes and he murdered his wife and he murdered his brother. But we had to approach it with an open mind and we had to try to understand Philippa who had been trying to do this for many years [unpack] The. So we went sideways: we challenged it. What were the facts? What independent sources, i.e. non-Tudor sources, are there for events in Richard’s life? We put together a version of Richard’s story in our heads that we felt was more balanced.

Q: What do you want audiences to take away from this wonderful film?

JP: Trust your instincts, trust your feelings. We are often told in life that we [are to] blame our betters – our eldest, our betters – and that they know best. And sometimes in life you get a sense of something and very often that’s exactly right, that’s right.

This is a woman who has been ignored, marginalized, sidelined, and yet the fact that she was Richard III’s only belittles her. found by simply going with her instincts and her feelings, not what she achieved. So listen to yourself. And never underestimate middle-aged housewives.

Q: Thank you.

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Here is the trailer of the film.


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