When thinking about my childhood favourite movies, there are three that spring to mind:
- The Little Mermaid
- Beauty and the Beast
There is no denying that Disney is experiencing a resurgence at the moment, along with a tribe of a new era of fans, spurred forward by the juggernaut that is ‘Frozen.’
We’re going to put it out there, we think this one might do even better! To celebrate the re-make and much anticipated release, a fairytale moment awaits, with the magical Australian premiere of Disney’s “Cinderella” set to come to life at Sydney’s spectacular State Theatre. Bringing to life the timeless images from Disney’s 1950 animated masterpiece, this live-action feature is inspired by the classic fairy tale and is set to win over the hearts and minds of a whole new generation.
The State Theatre will also be hosting a week of preview ‘Cinderella’ screenings, prior to the film’s national release in cinemas on March 26. These will screen daily from Thursday 19th March – Wednesday 25th March.
To celebrate the premiere and release on March 26th, Sydney Social 101 had the pleasure of speaking to Cinderella star and our very own real-life Prince Charming; Scottish actor RICHARD MADDEN (Prince) about the movie and his role.
- Tell us about your character and how he differs from the Prince in the animated version?
In the animated film we don’t really know all that much about the Prince, whereas in this film we learn that he’s lived a very different life from what you would expect. He’s much more intricate and interesting. I think everyone has a very strong idea of who the Prince should be, but we’ve stayed away from that. In fact, he’s never actually referred to as Prince Charming, so the audience gets to know the Prince for who he actually is. I worked very closely with Ken Branagh leading up to the start of production on who this young man is and what his background was, and we focused on building up his background to make him a more well-rounded person.
- What did you do to prepare for the role?
I read a lot of books, the kind I imagined the Prince would have been reading at the time, like Machiavelli’s “The Prince” and Aurelius’ “The Meditations.” And I took dance lessons because I’ve never danced before and I wanted to make it look like I knew what I was doing in the big ballroom scenes. The Prince has to lead Cinderella through quite a complicated routine that has a lot of performance within it (acting-wise) and important notes and tones that I really wanted to be able to play. I also learned to fence because, again, I wanted to be able to act while fencing and I didn’t want to have to be focusing on and thinking about the moves. I worked on my horseback riding skills as well, because even though I’ve already had lots of experience this role demanded a lot more technique and a bit of stunt riding, so I wanted to make sure I looked as comfortable as possible when doing it.
- Tell us about the relationship between the Prince and Ella.
The Prince changes once he meets Ella in the sense that he learns to be his own and to stand up when there are things he doesn’t agree with. And then there’s Ella, who is faced with such enormous challenges and who overcomes them with such humility. So when you take these two characters and their best qualities and see how those qualities are pushed and tested, the connection they have with each other strengthens those qualities and brings them closer together. There’s a great deal of humor in their relationship, too, and even though it’s a period film, it feels so much more modern in terms of how they connect with each other.
- How was it working with Lily James?
It’s truly a joy working with Lily. She is a very special person and a very interesting actress who understands this character in a very unique way. A character that is, on paper, very hard to relate to actually. I mean this woman is able to put up with everything that happens in her life and still have a smile on her face and be kind to people that are hateful towards her. There is a lot of responsibility that comes with a role like that, and Lily handles it so gracefully, beautifully and easily, regardless of all the pressures that come with it. She even makes wearing her amazing ball gown look comfortable and easy, when you know it is devastatingly hard. It’s so heavy because it has like 30 layers of fabric, but you never hear her complaining about it. I’ve really enjoyed doing scenes with her like the one where the Prince and Ella actually speak to each other properly for the first time…it had a very teenage feel to it in the sense that they are young people that don’t know how to talk to each other.
- Describe the relationship the Prince has with his Father.
The relationship between the King and the Prince grows over the course of the film and you actually see a man becoming who he needs to be to move the royal family forward. His Father is an older, more traditional King who wants the best for his son and for the kingdom, but they have very different ways of looking at what those things are. The end goal is the same, but how they get there is very different. And to me, that was something that I felt was very important for younger generations to understand: that a great deal can be accomplished when someone comes in and re-evaluates the situation and actually challenges what the previous generation’s thoughts and actions were. And that’s what happens in this film, and that’s part of the Prince growing and maturing into adulthood, but it’s also the King letting his guard down and seeing things from his son’s point of view and agreeing that change needs to happen. And being proud of his son for doing that.
- Tell us about working with Kenneth Branagh as a director.
I love working with Ken. I’ve loved working with him since the very first rehearsal where I realized this wasn’t going to be the straightforward telling of a story that everyone knows and that we were all going to have to dive in and create characters from scratch that had never been understood properly before. Ken challenges me as an actor every day.
- Can you talk about the look of the film?
The sets on this film have as much personality as the characters do. Take for instance the Grand Duke’s office, which is massive and very intimidating with tall, dark ceilings and hard, cold marble floors and faces of soldiers and battle scenes painted on the walls. But it helps so much in terms of telling the story of who these characters are. The sets give the audience lots of things to visually feast upon as well as providing inspiration for me as an actor. The set for the castle’s ballroom is huge and beautiful, and the detail that has gone into it is just incredible. And the amazing staircase where I see Cinderella for the first time at the ball is just stunning. Having vivid, realistic touches like these make everything feel all the more real and that much more special. Sandy Powell, who designed the costumes, has done an outstanding job of providing us with magical elements that we can actually touch and see and become a part of. The costumes are so intricate and detailed….Cinderella’s ball gown even twinkles.
- What do you hope audiences take away from the film?
I think the element of strength from unity is something audiences will definitely respond to. This is a story about two people coming together who actually bring out the best in one another, and from that love comes strength. Hopefully audiences will leave the theater understanding just how powerful love is.
Madden is best known for his compelling performance as Robb Stark in HBO’s acclaimed series “Game of Thrones.” Other television credits include the Discovery Channel’s original mini-series “Klondike,” the BBC series “Hope Springs” and “Birdsong” and the Channel 4 series “Sirens.”
His London stage credits include: Romeo in the Globe Theatre’s production of “Romeo and Juliet;” Callum McGregor in Malorie Blackman’s “Noughts and Crosses;” and Mark McNulty in the National Theatre of Scotland’s production of “Be Near Me.”