• Film

Stephen Frears Brings the True Tale on King Richard III in “The Lost King”

In his latest opus The Lost King, Stephen Frears tells the true story behind the discovery of the remains of King Richard III, which took place in Leicester in 2012. An incredible breakthrough, revolving around Philippa Langley (Sally Hawkins), an amateur historian who discovered the King’s remains beneath a carpark in Leicester. The Lost King is a Philomena reunion for Academy Award nominee Frears and screenwriters Jeff Pope and Steve Coogan, who also plays Philippa’s husband John. Harry Lloyd (Game of Thrones), who stars as Richard III, first appears as an actor starring in a stage performance of Shakespeare’s eponymous play and then as the King himself in Philippa’s imagination throughout the rest of the movie. The excerpts are from the press conference at the Rome Film Festival.


Can you tell us a little about Philippa Langley’s persona, her journey and The Lost King’s story?

The lost King is the life-affirming true story of a woman who refused to be ignored and who took on the country’s most eminent historians, forcing them to think again about one of the most controversial kings in England’s history. Philippa is the one who found the bones, she’s the one who followed the trail first. Her spark is ignited by a stage play of Shakespeare’s infamous play. Shakespeare wrote Richard III, but there was some forgery, I wanted to correct Shakespeare’s trick. The truth today is an essential element, and often clashes with fake news and political reinterpretation. Brexit, the war in Ukraine are idiotic things, and it is there for all to see. The Lost King is a film that can help you find your way, in the name of a sacrosanct freedom. I believe this is the journey of a modest woman who had an absurd path. The real Philippa saw the film, and gave her opinion, confirming our version. I lived under the Crown, and I know that between truth and fantasy there is a big difference. This story is not known worldwide, but it is a very famous story in England. Philippa Langley against all odds managed to find the remains, she trusted her feelings and presentiment beyond archeological theories. She stood in the car park three feet from the body and sat there. One has to wonder was that intuition, I have no idea.

From Philomena to The Queen, some of your films are centered around strong women. Where does your fascination for female-driven stories come from?

I always found women more interesting than any men. Women are much more mysterious and trust me, they are also much more insane. The world is so full of men who get so many things wrong. Look, I only know strong women in my life. Perhaps invisible, who we then later discover to be something else. Like our woman Prime Minister in Great Britain (I was referring to Liz Truss). There is a Jane Austen in all women. Throughout my life, the women around me have worn me out, still, I like strong women, they are connected to their feelings, their intuition, I think that is powerful.

Sally Hawkins delivers again a stellar performance. How was it working with her?

I admire her enormously. Sally is a frail and vulnerable human being, yet she is also incredibly strong. She is able to play a role and make anything believable. You know, if she can fall in love with a fish, she can easily fall in love with a ghost. This is what she is excellent about. She is brilliant!

In The Lost King, you reunite with the writer’s team of Philomena, Jeff Pope and Steve Coogan.

For me, to be working with those two people again was wonderful. It honestly felt as if they are family, we shared a great collaboration and it was very important to me.