With The King’s Speech starting previews this week at the Wyndham’s theatre, Official London Theatre decided to challenge three of the show’s leading men, Charles Edwards, Michael Feast and Ian McNeice, to a historical Q&A.
Playing King George VI (Edwards), Winston Churchill (McNeice) and Cosmo Lang (Feast) between them, we found out whether they fancy life as a Royal and which historical event in their lifetime has stayed most vivid in their memory.
Describe your character in six words.
Edwards: Trapped, gentle, moral, wary, angry, solid.
Feast: Cosmo Gordon Lang – Archbishop of Canterbury.
McNeice: One of the world’s iconic characters.
Who have you taken inspiration from playing your role?
Edwards: The real Bertie’s story is enormously inspiring, as is that of David Seidler [The King’s Speech playwright], and stammerers everywhere.
Feast: Dr “Fingers” Schafer, the lobotomy Kid, from The Naked Lunch by William Burroughs.
McNeice: Charles Laughton.
What historical event in your lifetime do you remember most vividly and where were you when it happened?
Edwards: The Twin Towers. We were about to do a matinee of All My Sons at the National – someone had a pager alert and it said ‘Liner hits Twin Towers’. We were confused as to what it meant. Then the first sound effect of that show was planes. News filtered through gradually during the show.
Also Live Aid. I was there!
Feast: The death of Elvis Presley; I was in a mental hospital.
McNeice: JFK Assassination – returning to school on a Sunday night.
Which historical figures (dead or alive) would you invite to your dream dinner party and why?
Edwards: Meryl Streep, Jim Henson, Orson Welles, Hedda Hopper, Charles Dickens, Smurfette. It would be a fun night.
Feast: Elvis Presley, Scotty Moore, Bill Black, Ron Tutt and Sam Phillips. Just because.
McNeice: I would like to attend a banquet with Henry VIII – all those courses!
Would you like to have been born into the Royal family?
Edwards: Well, some of it can’t be bad, but on the whole I’d say not.
Feast: No. I don’t like dinner/cocktail/garden parties.
McNeice: No. I’d hate military service!
What has been your biggest hurdle in your career?
Edwards: The year I spent entirely out of work.
Feast: Acting isn’t a career, it’s a series of jobs some of which lead on from another and some which don’t. Hurdles are what horses jump over.
McNeice: Overcoming my own stammer!
What is your favourite moment during the show?
Edwards: There are many, but building planes with Jonathan Hyde and cuddling Emma Fielding are both good.
Feast: Cup of tea in the interval.
McNeice: The curtain call!