Interview with Richard Eyre (Director) about THE DRESSER starring Ian McKellen and Anthony Hopkins
Coordinated by: Anchor Bay Entertainment
Interview Questions by Don of Don411.com
July 15, 2016
One fateful night in a small English regional theatre during World War II, a troupe of touring actors stage a production of Shakespeare’s “King Lear.” Bombs are falling, sirens are wailing, the curtain is up in an hour but the actor/manager ‘Sir’ (Anthony Hopkins) who is playing Lear is nowhere to be seen. His dresser ‘Norman’ (Ian McKellen) must scramble to keep the production alive but will Sir turn up in time? And if he does, will he be able to perform that night? The Dresser is a wickedly funny and deeply moving story of friendship and loyalty as Sir reflects on his lifelong accomplishments and seeks to reconcile his turbulent friendships with those in his employ before the final curtain. (Provided by Anchor Bay Entertainment)
Sir Richard Charles Hastings Eyre CBE is an English film, theatre, television and opera director. Born in Barnstaple, Devon, England, Eyre was educated at Sherborne School, an independent school for boys in the market town of Sherborne in northwest Dorset in southwest England, followed by Peterhouse at the University of Cambridge. Eyre became the first president of Rose Bruford College in July 2010. He gives “President’s Lectures” at this prestigious drama school; his 2012 talk was entitled “Directing Shakespeare for BBC Television”. He lives in Brook Green, West London. (per www.wikipedia.org on July 15, 2016)
With 2 theatre performances, West End and Broadway, and a movie in 1983 of THE DRESSER, what did you do differently than the others?
(Eyre) I kept the action within the theatre in order to make it more claustrophobic: this is the universe that Sir and Norman have occupied all their working lives. Neither of them have lives outside the theatre. Also I gave more prominence to the women – and was able to cast leading actresses (Emily Watson, Sarah Lancashire, Vanessa Kirby) which I couldn’t have done in the theatre.
Why was THE DRESSER chosen? What was the draw for you?
(Eyre) Anthony Hopkins was asked by the producers, Colin Callender and Sonia Friedman, if he wanted to do the play in the theatre. He said he didn’t but would like to do it for TV as he loved the play. I’ve always liked the play and when I was asked to do it with Tony I accepted instantly.
How has your experience with Metropolitan Opera productions helped you with this film?
(Eyre) I’ve done 4 productions for the Met – Carmen, Werther, The Marriage of Figaro and Manon Lescaut – all with international stars. I suppose you could say that prepared me for filming with two international stars. But more help was the fact that since 1980 I’ve directed 17 films for TV and 5 feature films.
Were there any humorous incidents on the set during the production of THE DRESSER?
(Eyre) The funniest thing that happened – repeatedly – was Tony Hopkins performing between set ups. He does perfect imitations of English comics – principally Tommy Cooper and Tony Hancock.
What were some of the challenges experienced in making the adaptation?
(Eyre) The biggest challenge was making sure that the film never felt static, never settled. I had to be sure that the actors or the camera kept in motion. I moved as much of the action as possible outside the dressing room – on to corridors, staircases, the wings, the stage and the auditorium. I also rehearsed a long time (2 weeks) and included the Director of Photography so that we wouldn’t waste time when we were shooting trying to work out where we were going to put the camera.
Currently, as of July 12, 2016, Roger Ebert rates 3 out of 4 stars, and “Rotten Tomatoes” rates it at 100%. Why do you believe it is getting such a high rating?
(Eyre) Because it’s a finely written script by Ronald Harwood; because it’s about much more than the theatre – it’s about work, about living within work to avoid dealing with relationships outside it; because it’s also about mortality; because it’s shadowed by the world’s greatest play, King Lear; because it’s acted brilliantly by the whole cast.
Why was Anthony Hopkins and Ian McKellen chosen?
(Eyre) Anthony Hopkins wasn’t chosen: he chose The Dresser. Ian McKellen was the obvious choice. He been asked to play Sir several times but never Norman. I’d worked with him many times but Tony had never worked with him.
What was Anthony Hopkins and Ian McKellen reaction when chosen?
(Eyre) You’d have to ask them! Sarah Lancashire told me she cried with joy when she was asked to be in the film.
After production, do you believe you could have done any better or improved on it?
(Eyre) There are always things – hopefully small – that you can improve on. I would have to take you through the film shot by shot to point out where I think I/we could have done better.
Do you believe there might be a theatre revival of THE DRESSER because of the favorable ratings with critics and audience?
(Eyre) There’s a London revival opening in October in a West End theatre.
(Information provided by Anchor Bay Entertainment and STARZ)
Veteran film icons Academy Award® nominee Ian McKellen and Academy Award® winner Anthony Hopkins star together for the first time ever in the captivating BBC production of the STARZ Original movie, THE DRESSER, arriving on DVD from Anchor Bay Entertainment and Digital HD from Starz Digital July 12.
One Timeless Drama. Two Timeless Legends. Together Onscreen for the First Time.
Ian McKellen and Anthony Hopkins Star Together for the First Time Onscreen in the STARZ Original Movie Available on DVD and Digital HD July 12
BEVERLY HILLS, CA (June 6, 2016) – Veteran film icons Academy Award® nominee Ian McKellen (The Lord of the Rings franchise, The Hobbit franchise, X-Men franchise) and Academy Award® winner Anthony Hopkins (Silence of the Lambs, Thor franchise, Mission Impossible II) star together for the first time ever in the captivating BBC production of the STARZ Original movie, The Dresser, arriving on DVD from Anchor Bay Entertainment and Digital HD from Starz Digital July 12. Adapted from the classic 1980 West End and Broadway play by Ronald Harwood, the wickedly funny and deeply moving story of friendship and loyalty also stars Academy Award nominee Emily Watson (The Theory of Everything, War Horse) and Vanessa Kirby (Jupiter Ascending, Insomniacs).
The Dresser originally aired on STARZ May 30, 2016 and will be available on DVD for the suggested retail price of $24.98.
To learn more about the film, please visit www.anchorbayentertainment.com.
ABOUT ANCHOR BAY ENTERTAINMENT
Anchor Bay Entertainment is a leading independent home entertainment company that acquires and releases a wide array of filmed entertainment in the theatrical and home entertainment markets, including STARZ Original series, children’s entertainment, fitness (Anchor Bay Fitness), sports and specialty films on Blu-ray™ and DVD formats. The company has long-term distribution agreements in place for select programming with The Weinstein Company, AMC Networks and RADiUS, among others. Headquartered in Beverly Hills, CA, Anchor Bay Entertainment (www.anchorbayentertainment.com) is a full service distributor in the North American market. Anchor Bay Entertainment is a Starz (NASDAQ: STRZA, STRZB) business, www.starz.com.
The Dresser DVD
Street Date: July 12, 2016
Pre-book: June 8, 2016
Catalog #: ST63647
Run Time: 109 mins.
Aspect Ratio: Anamorphic
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1