Today I have a new interview with Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York! She is one of the producers of the movie “The Young Victoria,” which will be released in the US on December 18. (Thank you to Brian Gross for providing the interview and photos.)
How involved were you with the film once [fellow producers] King and Scorsese took part?
I left it to the brilliance of those people and Julian Fellows and Jean-Marc Vallee. I don’t tell a hairdresser how to do my hair and I was very honored they gave me the producer title and I said that I would honor it in the right way for this film which would be to open up on location, provide research and history, make sure that Alistair Bruce, my friend, was there to really make sure that everything was done the exact right way and how to address people and then I said my bit would come at the end when I talked about it.
What challenges/roadblocks stood in the way of the film being made?
It took me 15 years to be made and the first challenges were to ask everyone to keep to history and not to try and make it too much into entertainment but really tell the real story of the untold story of love. It’s so good it didn’t need to be sort of hyped up. Somebody once wrote a script for me and they had a certain sex scene going on and I said but that just did not happen. It’s not written down anywhere and I said please don’t. So we tore the script up and we waited and 5 years ago Graham said we’ll do it. He was so great. He kept all his promises. He said I’ll do it in Britain I’ll film in Britain even if it costs more and we were over budget and no one got paid properly he still kept his promises.
Julian Fellowes is an Academy Award winning writer for Gosford Park – what was it about his approach that let you know he was the best fit for The Young Victoria?
Julian Fellows is one of the nicest most brilliant people I’ve met. He has such a brilliant ability, and I like his wife Emma who’s fabulous. He’s like, Alastair Bruce the historian, like a cousin of theirs so it always felt like family. I knew that the Queen of England loves Gosford Park and Julian Fellows so I knew very much that we would be going out with a movie which the whole family would appreciate rather than this, ugh, we don’t put our name to that. So with Julian there, Graham King’s from Britain, the whole thing is very British, it’s certainly, it’s gone out with great strength of honesty to history and I’m proud about it.
Did you have any hesitations with your daughter, Princess Beatrice, taking part in the film? Whose idea was it for her to get involved?
Both of them are so proud about this film that they of course loved sitting going on set and when they were on set of course it was then decided that Beatrice could go and do that and she jumped at it with both feet. She came from school where she did drama so for her it was just big dresses and just being on set. What this film has taught me just is how hard Hollywood works. Hollywood is not just entertainment, it’s about the behind the scenes, what everyone does. I’ve never seen such hard work. It’s really extraordinary and has to be heralded. I often took myself, go to the cinema and look at the big screen, walk out and go yeah that’s good but never contemplate just what it takes. I think it’s incredible. I’m happy with whatever both girls decide to do because I believe a real mother should be there to guide, be a role model, and to listen, but never to preach or teach.
What is Beatrice’s impression of the whole experience?
I think Beatrice would like to be in that century and I keep trying to tell her well it’s not going to happen dear. She really is so responsible; she was born to be a princess. She’s got it in her blood. She just has a sense of duty and responsibility that I’ve never seen in another human being.
You’ve written two [books] about the life of Queen Victoria – is there a particular connection you feel you have with her?
I find her sense of cheekiness. I find her sense of humor. I find that she’s so strong and bold and I often have days when I allow people to push me around and I often think what would she do. There’s no way she’d put up with it so why am I?
Are there other stories about the Royal Family, as captivating as Queen Victoria’s, that you’d like to see brought to the big screen?
Well when Graham left cinema, he held my hand and said Sarah come and see me next week with some more ideas. I rubbed my hands with glee because I have two corkers of stories which no one has heard before and I think they should be seen on the big screen. Strong, historic, royal women.