Ian McKellen Official Home Page

 Screenplay by Ian McKellen and Richard Loncraine

Scenes 60, 61, 62, 63, 64, 65, 66, 67, 68, 69, 70, 71, 72 



There are two sets of double-doors ajar, through which runs the track for PRINCE JAMES'S electric toy train. This miniature version of his brother's train buzzes round and round, in and out.

QUEEN ELIZABETH and DUCHESS OF YORK, his doting mater and grandmama, watch him at play. Both are in mourning weeds. By herself, at the window, PRINCESS ELIZABETH still remembers her father's death.


I long -with all my heart to see the Prince of Wales. 
I hope he is much grown since last I saw him.


They say my Uncle Richard grew so fast 
That he could gnaw a crust at two hours old.


A parlous boy. Go to, you are too shrewd.


Elizabeth, be not angry with your son.

scene 60 shows again the Gothic splendour of Strawberry Hill House.

electric toy train is a visual pun on Rivers' 'why with some little train?' (scene 50) and was invented for Bob Crowley's settings at the RNT, when a similar model, with its illuminated carriage windows, chugged across the darkened stage of the Lyttelton Theatre.

'I long with all my heart to see the Prince of Wales.' The teenage Prince has presumably been away at Eton College or some other privileged educational establishment, where young boys are turned into young gentlemen.



Pitchers have ears. 

A KNOCK at the door.

A FOOTMAN lets in LORD STANLEY, holding by the hand his 6-year-old son, GEORGE STANLEY, who has Down's Syndrome. The little boy carries a model plane. With them is HENRY RICHMOND.

PRINCESS ELIZABETH'S eyes light up at the sight of her favourite young man.


What news. Lord Stanley?


Such news that grieves me to report.


What is your news?


Your brother . . . Rivers is murdered.

PRINCE JAMES shows his toy train to GEORGE STANLEY, who laughs as he bombards it with his own model plane.

(although she knows the answer)

By whom?

LORD STANLEY can't bring himself to reply.

(continuing; to RICHMOND)



Richard and Buckingham.


I see the ruin of my family.


Blood against blood; self against self. 
Oh, let me die to look on death no more.

LORD STANLEY attends to the rock-like Duchess.

QUEEN ELIZABETH and PRINCESS ELIZABETH comfort each other's grief.

RICHMOND bends down to play with the uncomprehending GEORGE STANLEY, still waving his model plane over the toy train.

To escape from this aerial attack, PRINCE JAMES crawls after the train, as it goes out through the door.

'Pitchers have ears.' Today's English audience will misleadingly hear the nonsensical 'pictures have ears'. Americans, like Queen Elizabeth, will understand Shakespeare better. Even household items may be bugged in the Lord Protector's regime. No-one and nothing can be trusted - not even a jug on the tea-table.

GEORGE STANLEY. Lord Stanley's 'young son George' will eventually escape when Richard takes him hostage before the final battle. I had wanted Richard's last and youngest victim to be his most vulnerable, a child who was even more incapacitated. We were unable to find a boy or youth with Down's Syndrome whose guardians would allow him to be filmed.

When I played the mentally handicapped Walter for Stephen Frears (Channel 4: 1982), I had worked with a young man with Down's Syndrome. The two of us were at a carol service in the institution where Walter lived. The keenness with which Peter returned to his starting position as the scene was repeated over and over showed how much he relished being the centre of the camera's attention. One of the hospital nurses was played by Jim Broadbent.

George plays with a model aeroplane, as his father wears the uniform of a senior officer in the Royal Air Force. He is played by Ryan Gilmore, a veteran from commercials.

The rock-like Duchess. Film actors need to relax whilst waiting for the cameras to turn, without losing concentration. Some like to stay in character throughout the day, on and off the set. I was a little bit like that, wanting to hold on to Richard's physique and gait. Some actors retire to their caravans to snooze, or to do a solitary crossword. Others prefer a chat. Whatever, once camera and lights are in place, everyone stops to concentrate on the actors.

When I first filmed, I was embarrassed by all those potential critics who had taken up vantage positions by the camera, until I realised that they were all friends, alertly concerned that everything should look and sound exactly right and thereby contributing helpfully to the concentration of the moment.




As the train runs over the parquet floor of the corridor, a booted foot halts it along the track. PRINCE JAMES looks up into the smiling face of TYRELL.

scene 61. By now, the very sight of Tyrell is threatening.


A dull-red carpet has been unrolled along the platform, which is empty, except for the small welcoming party in morning-dress, with black arm-bands.

The Royal Train, bringing the heir to the throne, arrives with a screech of powerful brakes, bursting smoke and steam.

PRINCE JAMES is guarded by TYRELL. 

HASTINGS waits beside the ARCHBISHOP.

LORD STANLEY has brought along his nephew, HENRY RICHMOND.

The LORD MAYOR OF LONDON, over-dressed in his feathered hat and mayoral chain, is attended by CATESBY.

RICHARD is in top-hat, gloves and morning-dress grey, with black arm-band.

Down from the train, BUCKINGHAM leads his charge, the PRINCE OF WALES, now dressed in the uniform of a junior Admiral of the Fleet.

(bowing, all smiles) 

Welcome, dear nephew.

The solemn PRINCE OF WALES holds out his hand.

(continuing; juggling his top-hat and glove as he shakes hands)

Welcome to your capital.


I want more uncles here to welcome me.


Those uncles whom you want were dangerous. 
Your Highness attended to their sugared words 
And looked not on the poison of their hearts. 
God keep you from them and from such false friends.


God keep me from false friends - but they were none.


The Prime Minister, Lord Hastings, comes to greet you.

PRINCE OF WALES, with HASTINGS, proceeds down the line, shaking hands.

RICHARD distracts his nephew PRINCE JAMES, as BUCKINGHAM moves over to CATESBY.


Catesby, is it not an easy matter
To make Lord Hastings of our mind, 
For the instalment of this noble Duke, 
In the seat royal of our famous land?


He, for the late King's sake, so loves the Prince, 
That he will not do anything against him.


What think you, then, of Lord Stanley? And the Archbishop?


They will do all in all as Hastings does.


Call them tomorrow, early, 
To determine of the coronation.
And, as it were far off, sound out Lord Hastings. 
And give us notice of his inclination.


Commend me to Hastings. 
Tell him, Catesby, that Rivers is let blood.

CATESBY, unfazed, nods. 


scene 62. In the United Kingdom, most of the Victorian railway system has been irreversibly modernised. We were lucky that one platform of St Pancras Station needed very little to disguise British Rail's embellishments of the nineteenth- century structure. Cardboard pillars, painted as brick, hid the loudspeakers and video monitors which announce the platform's timetable. Poster advertisements were also covered over. On the other platforms, offscreen, the diesel-driven trains arrived and departed. During the brief lulls in between, we filmed.

RICHMOND. Dominic West makes his film debut as Richmond. We wanted an upright, handsome, young man whose youth, beauty and assurance Richard could understandably envy. The casting director, Irene Lamb, had been impressed with Dominic when he played Berowne in Love's Labours Lost just before he left the Guildhall School of Speech and Drama. His second film is Surviving Picasso.

Irene Lamb has often worked with RL. From their work on stage, television and film, she knows well the actors she recommends and when she delivers photos and CVs, she is a staunch advocate. RL liked to judge even very well-known actors for himself, by viewing snippets of their recent screen performances on video-tapes compiled by their agents. Over that hurdle, actors were invited to meet RL, whose enthusiasm invariably encouraged them to accept an offer, if it was made.

PRINCE OF WALES is played by Marco Williamson. Marco is a survivor from the RNT production, when he shared the part of the Prince of Wales's young brother on the US tour.

PRINCE JAMES. In the play, on the death of her brother. Queen Elizabeth escaped from Richard's growing power by taking sanctuary with her younger son, in the care of the Church. In this scene, Buckingham persuades the Cardinal to remove the little Prince from sanctuary with the following sophistry:

Oft have I heard of sanctuary men
But sanctuary children ne'er till now!

It was a pity to lose this evidence of the Church's complicity in the political manoeuvring of Richard's Protectorship but taking sanctuary is little understood these days.

'For the instalment of this noble Duke, 
In the seat royal of our famous land?' This is typical Buckingham language, not quite saying directly what he means, lest one day his words be used in evidence against him.

RL is checking an angle through the camera's eye-piece. Robert Binnall prepares to measure exactly the distance between me and the lens. He will keep the focus of the picture sharp, wherever the actors may move, by constant adjustments to the camera.

(continuing; chuckling and kneeling to the little boy's level) 

What would you have my little Lord?


Because that I am little like an ape, 
I think that you should bear me on your shoulders.

PRINCE JAMES leaps up onto RICHARD'S hump and is thrown to the ground. BUCKINGHAM helps PRINCE JAMES up and dusts him down. LORD STANLEY goes to help RICHARD, who is pale with shock. A dreadful embarrassment.


I thank you all. Uncle Richard . . .

RICHARD seems to have recovered and joins the PRINCE OF WALES, followed by PRINCE JAMES with BUCKINGHAM.


. . . where shall we stay until our coronation?


If I may counsel you, some day or two, 
For your best health and recreation, 
Your Highness shall repose you at The Tower.


I shall not sleep in quiet at The Tower.

(turning back to PRINCE JAMES)

Why, what should you fear?


My Uncle Clarence's angry ghost. 
My grandma told me he was murdered there.


I fear no uncles dead.


Nor none who live, I hope.

The PRINCE OF WALES and PRINCE JAMES are escorted round the corner of the station building by TYRELL and GUARDS.

(continuing; waving his top-hat)

So wise, so young, they say, do never live long.

(waving too; he puts a hand on RICHARD'S

Well let them rest. 
My Lord Protector, what shall we do if we perceive 
Hastings will not yield to all our plans?


Chop off his head!

BUCKINGHAM can't tell if RICHARD is joking or not.


Something we shall determine.

They walk along the empty platform.


And, look, when I am King, claim you of me 
The Earldom of Hereford - and all the movables 
Whereof the King, my brother, was possessed.

It's as if BUCKINGHAM has just been promised delivery of the Taj Mahal.


I'll claim that promise from your royal hand.

(slightly mocking BUCKINGHAM'S formality) 

And look to have it yielded with all kindness. 
Come, let's to supper.

LORD STANLEY and RICHMOND watch RICHARD'S humped back, as he limps away with BUCKINGHAM.

'I think that you should bear me on your shoulders.' Stage directions are rare in Shakespeare but it is likely that with this line he implied that the Prince, who in the play has been handling Richard's dress-sword, should go a leap too far by jumping up on his uncle's deformed back.

In the Olivier film, it was enough for the boy to point at the enlarged shoulder and for Richard to turn murderously round, accompanied by a strident chord on the soundtrack.

'Your Highness shall repose you at The Tower.' Richard says this as if The Tower were a swish hotel. In the play, there is here a lengthy exchange about The Tower of London, during which the Prince of Wales irritatingly shows off his knowledge of history.

'Why, what should you fear?'

Holding the door for the little Prince is Steve Morphew who plays Richard's principal bodyguard. He was also my stand-in, taking my place during the lengthy business of lighting a shot, whilst I was able to relax and prepare for the acting ahead.

BUCKINGHAM. Jim Broadbent, having starred in RL's Wide Eyed and Legless (1993) was his first choice for Buckingham. Other directors, like Richard Eyre, Stephen Frears and Mike Leigh have also cast him again and again on stage and screen. After his success in Bullets Over Broadway (1994) will it be long before he works again with Woody Alien? Like many very good actors, he is a uniquely marvellous comedian. As for Buckingham, a part so many have failed in, I had originally expected to cast someone familiar with blank verse. This is Jim's first Shakespeare. That did not worry me, the minute I saw him with his Himmler glasses and his Goering smile.

Richard's car is a 1936 Bentley which spends most weekends carrying newly-weds to and from church.



LORD STANLEY'S POV of RICHARD on the ground (as previous scene).

In his dream, LORD STANLEY approaches RICHARD from behind. As he gets closer to the familiar humpback, RICHARD turns to reveal he has the face of a wild boar, slavering and blood-flecked. The savage mouth opens to snarl; the yellow tusks snap at LORD STANLEY, who screams. His cries are drowned by the triumphant squeals and snorts of RICHARD, the boar.

scene 63. In his dream, Stanley transfigures Richard into his heraldic boar - the device that will decorate the blackshirt uniforms of his supporters. A foam-latex mask was glued to my face. This had been fashioned on my plaster life-cast in the workshops of Daniel Parker, where there are shelves of unnerving body-parts from Maggie Smith, Robert de Niro and various animals. Tusks lodged on my upper teeth. The porcine contact lenses blinded me once we got them to stay in.


CLOSE on LORD STANLEY'S sweating face as he wakes suddenly from his nightmare.



At the bottom of the grand staircase, HASTINGS is preparing to go out of the front door, with RICHMOND.


And then?


My uncle dreamt tonight 'The Boar' had shown 
His tusks. Therefore he sends to know if you
Will shun the danger that his soul does fear.

LADY HASTINGS, in her dressing-gown, is helping her husband on with his coat.


Return to Lord Stanley. 
Tell him his fears are shallow, wanting substance. 
As for his dreams, I wonder he's so foolish.

HASTINGS blows a kiss to his wife and leaves through the front door with RICHMOND. CATESBY is waiting in the back of the Daimler parked outside. The POLICE CONSTABLE opens the kerbside rear door for HASTINGS to get in.


Good morning, Catesby.

(looking out at RICHMOND) 

Tell your uncle, I shall see him at the meeting, 
Where he shall see 'The Boar' will use us kindly.

scene 65. I had originally expected to see our fictional Prime Minister emerge from the famous door of 10, Downing Street. We had not checked whether security would allow us to film in situ, before RL decided not to use any over- familiar London landmarks.

Richmond's leather coat is all that remains of an early idea that he might be seen driving off from this midnight meeting, aboard his flashy motorbike.

LADY HASTINGS. I removed references to Hastings's mistress, Jane Shore, whom he shared with King Edward. (Olivier's film made much of this, with Pamela Browne mysteriously, wordlessly working her way round the throne- room.) It seemed fair to invent a spouse, whose dressing-gown would be a reminder that the Prime Minister is off to a meeting in the middle of the night.

Syon House is very grand for a Prime Minister's official residence, having been presented to the first Duke of Northumberland in 1553. Snooping along the Robert Adam corridors, I found oil portraits of most of the royal cast members of Richard III.




On its way through the damp London streets.


Catesby, what news in this our tottering state?


It is a reeling world indeed, sir, 
And, I believe, it will never stand upright 
Till Richard wear the garland of the state.


How! 'Wear the garland?' Do you mean the crown?


Yes, my Lord.


I'll have this crown of mine cut from my shoulders, Before I'll see the crown so foul misplaced.

scene 67. The Daimler is crossing Southwark Bridge by the church of St Mary Overy (short for 'over-the-river') where Shakespeare's actor brother Edmund was buried in 1607.

HASTINGS. In the play, William, Lord Hastings, is a senior politician. For the RNT, we had supposed him to be the Prime Minister and David Bradley, playing him in a droopy false moustache, had a resemblance to Neville Chamberlain. In the screenplay, I've risked the purists' disapproval by even calling him 'Prime Minister' every so often. Although as a peer, he would be running the government from the House of Lords, I wondered whether he might have risen to the heights of the power ladder, through the trade union movement.

Jim Carter's strong northern accent clinched it. I have long admired him on stage and screen. Recently he had played another leading politician in The Madness of King George, along with Roger Hammond (Archbishop) and, of course, Nigel Hawthorne (Clarence).

'I'll have this crown of mine cut from my shoulders . . .' By now the audience will be alert to the irony of this sort of confidence and suspect that Hastings is, indeed, in for the chop.



As the car swerves into the forecourt. Big Ben chimes the three-quarter hour.

scene 69. The tall gates that open for Hastings' car lead into the courtyard of the old headquarters of the Greater London Council.


HASTINGS self-importantly arrives with CATESBY. Black-uniformed GUARDS protect the lobby. LORD STANLEY is nervously waiting for them at the bottom of the stairs.


Hastings . . .

They all start up the staircase.


Where is your boar-spear, Lord Stanley?

(privately to CATESBY) 

Catesby, before a fortnight makes me older 
I'll send some packing that yet think not on it.


It is a vile thing to die, 
When men are unprepared and look not for it.

scene 70. This is the first time that it is obvious that Richard now has his own bodyguards, identified by their black uniforms. This idea was Bob Crowley's for the RNT. Richard's favourite colours are black, white, red and gold.

'before a fortnight makes me older . . .' These last lines of the scene, which I had cut, were properly reinstated at the request of Jim Carter and Tim Mclnnerny. Otherwise I was grateful that apart from the odd line, there were no complaints at all about the substantial cuts, even though they affected all the main characters.



The long room is lit by low, shaded lamps hanging above the circular conference table, which could accommodate 50 but where places are now laid for only 6.

A black-uniformed OFFICER guards the door. The ARCHBISHOP is already there, as the OFFICER smartly opens the door to let in HASTINGS, LORD STANLEY and CATESBY, who tidies papers for the meeting.

(ever jovially) 

Archbishop, you are early stirring.


I am glad to see your honour.

BUCKINGHAM breezes in from the corridor, in time to see HASTINGS and the ARCHBISHOP shaking hands. He takes his place.


What! Talking to a priest, Lord Hastings? 
Your friend, Earl Rivers, he needed the priest!

HASTINGS laughs confidently. The ARCHBISHOP misses the joke. 

LORD STANLEY is apprehensive.

HASTINGS checks his fob-watch.


What is it o'clock?


Upon the stroke of two.

(eager to get on)

Now, gentlemen, the cause why we are met, 
Is to determine of the Coronation.



Speak. When is the royal day?


Are all things ready for the royal time?


They are.


Who knows the Lord Protector's mind in this?


Your Lordship, we think, should soonest know his mind.


We know each other's face. For our hearts, 
He knows no more of mine than I of yours - 
Or I of his, my Lord, than you of mine. 
Lord Hastings you and he are near in love.


I have not sounded him
But you, my noble Lords, may name the time 
And, on the Duke's behalf, I'll give my voice.

scene 71. This is the Council Chamber within the University of London. An elevator is disguised by a false wall. All the bas reliefs are made of flimsy plaster. From home, I contributed one of the bronze statuettes.

Peter Biziou is checking the effect of his lighting for a close-up of the Archbishop who sits to the left of Jim Carter and his Homburg.

The OFFICER slams to attention as RICHARD solemnly enters, followed by TYRELL in a black uniform, the first recruit in RICHARD'S private army of bodyguards.


Good day to all. I have been long a sleeper.

He sits in the Lord Protector's chair. Silence.


Had you not come upon your cue, my Lord, 
William, Lord Hastings, had pronounced your part.


Than my Lord Hastings, no man might be bolder.

Another uncomfortable silence.

(continuing at last)

I pray you all, tell me what they deserve 
Who do conspire my death; and have prevailed 
Upon my body, with their damned witchcraft?


I say, my Lord, they have deserved death.

(rising and rolling up his left sleeve) 

See how I am bewitched. Behold, my arm 
Is like a blasted sapling, withered up - 
By Queen Elizabeth, that monstrous witch!


If she has done this deed, my noble Lord -

(waggling his deformed arm at HASTINGS) 

"If"? You protector of this damned Elizabeth - 
Talk you to me of "Ifs"? You are a traitor! 
Off with his head. Now, by Saint Paul, I swear 
I will not dine, until I see the same. 
The rest who love me, rise and follow me.

RICHARD, in apparent rage, limps out. BUCKINGHAM unhesitatingly follows. 

The ARCHBISHOP is ready to vomit and goes next.

LORD STANLEY looks toward CATESBY, who is non-committal. He leaves.

CATESBY, too, goes quickly to catch up with RICHARD, his new boss. HASTINGS is left alone with TYRELL.


The Duke would be at dinner. He longs to see your head.

HASTINGS' eyes show that he still cannot believe his predicament - as there is a photographer's flash and he drops, hanged, out of frame.

'I have been long a sleeper.' The trick of disadvantaging others by calling a meeting in the early hours was also used by Hitler. Richard has been preparing to be fully alert by having a nap. Until he gets the nod from Buckingham and Catesby, he doesn't know what is required to deal with Hastings. Then, without Buckingham's approval, Richard dangerously improvises.

'Than my Lord Hastings, no man might be bolder.' When the film was being edited, I had one last chance for improvement. In the sound dubbing- studio, I was able to improve my diction and even slightly alter a stress here and there, all synchronised with my mouth movements on the screen. Also, occasional lines could be restored from the play, as here (over a close-up of a smiling Hastings): 'He knows me well and loves me well'.

'See how I am bewitched.' This seems to be the only moment when Shakespeare expects Richard to show any deformity. Elsewhere he discreetly keeps his useless arm and distorted left hand tucked out of sight within specially designed pockets. Kaiser Wilhelm II did the same thing with his left arm. It was not easy to tell from his public appearances that Stalin too had a similar handicap. However, Senator Bob Dole, whose damaged right hand is a war trophy, makes no attempt to hide it.

Richard's flourishing of his claw-like fingers is a staggering piece of bravado. Everyone around the table knows that a congenital deformity must pre-date the influence of Queen Elizabeth or any other 'monstrous witch'. Buckingham and Catesby keep their counsel, although they must be worried that Richard is out of control. Stanley and the Archbishop are prepared to swear black is white if only they can get out of the room alive. As for Hastings, it is the middle of the night and he has had one too many slugs from his whisky flask. His careless 'If' is excuse enough to send him to the gallows.

Tyranny thrives on fear. The major domo conducting visitors into Stalin's office kept spare trousers for those who soiled their own as they waited for admission.



HASTINGS' corpse jerks, as it drops to the full length of the hangman's rope.

scene 72. The deadly drop is too quick for it to be noted that a nerveless double is hanging in place of Jim Carter. He was filmed in a corner of the Spitfire Studios in Middlesex. A wooden cage four storeys high enclosed the pulley, the trap-door and the drop-into-space. The noose's rope was longer than the wire attached to a safety-harness, so that the neck could come to no harm. It did not look safe when he first jumped; which it should not have done, if it were to be convincing in the film. Then the stuntman did it again, with all the lights on and the camera turning. When he asked if the fall had been alright and it was clear he was still alive, all the bystanders applauded. We had seen an execution - and then there was another. RL wanted the body to turn in the light, whilst the stuntman kept his face always away from the camera. I hoped they would not do it again: I should feel obliged to watch again. One execution is very much like another. But RL and Peter Biziou were happy and the stuntman came down and we shook his hand.

SCENES 73-87