Screenplay by Ian McKellen and Richard Loncraine
EXT. GARDENS - THE PALACE - DAY
The three generations have escaped to the
quiet privacy of the lawn sheltered by the low branches of a
spreading chestnut tree.
The DUCHESS OF YORK is protected by her
parasol. QUEEN ELIZABETH and PRINCESS ELIZABETH are listening
sympathetically to their visitor, who has dropped by for afternoon
LADY ANNE wears a hat and is smoking
nervously. All are still in deep mourning.
When scarce the blood was well washed
from his hands
Which issued from my other angel-husband;
0 when, I say, I looked on Richard's face,
This was my wish : 'Be you', I said, 'accursed!
And when you wed, let sorrow haunt your bed.'
Within so small a time, my woman's heart
Grossly grew captive to his honey words,
And proved the subject of my own soul's curse.
LADY ANNE has three new allies, but she
feels no better for her confession.
|'When scarce the blood was well
washed from his hands . . .' I had unfeelingly omitted most of
this beautiful elegy. After seeing Kristin Scott Thomas be so
convincing in scene 23, RL asked me to
find some more Shakespeare for her. In the play, this speech (some
of which is moved to scene 93) comes just
before Anne becomes Queen. Seeing the women gathered away from the
men may be a consolation for anyone expecting to hear their long,
later scenes of rhetoricised grief, which I judged alien to our
Here was one of the few opportunities to
legitimately open out the scope of the action by filming in an
open space. This shot of Bushy Park in Teddington is the
traditional view of the beautiful land that Richard wants to call
his own. In the first draft of the screenplay, I had had Richard
galloping carefree over the South Downs: a horse, a horse.
INT. THE LORD PROTECTOR'S OFFICE - DAY
A GUARD is at the door. CATESBY is
standing by, in the sitting area.
RICHARD is obscured by a winged armchair
behind an ornate desk. On the wall above is RICHARD'S newly
BUCKINGHAM fills an easy chair.
Perched in the middle of a long sofa, the
LORD MAYOR examines the black-and-white police photos of HASTINGS'
official execution - his neck half-severed by the hangman's noose.
RICHARD swivels round, revealing his new
(wiping his eyes)
So dear I loved the man that I must
(an upright liar)
Would you believe that the subtle
Had plotted, in the Parliament, to murder me?
RICHARD clears his throat.
. . . and the Lord Protector?
Had he done so?
|scene 74. Behind his chair,
there is a full-length
oil painting of Richard looking every inch a leader, with two
perfectly formed hands, his leather greatcoat around his
shoulders. For the RNT, Bob Crowley designed a massive backcloth
similarly celebrating Richard's heroism. From a quick Polaroid®,
I was painted naked, the left arm wholly restored and held aloft,
in the manner of the Third Reich's monumental symbols of manhood.
Richard Eyre believed that the penis (although a copy of my own)
was ill-proportioned and had it slightly painted over. For the
USA, the portrait was again exhibited but modestly clad in a full
suit of armour.
The civil peace
Enforced us to this execution.
Now, he deserved his death. And do not
But I'll acquaint my duteous, city colleagues,
With all your just proceedings in this cause.
The LORD MAYOR leaves, CATESBY escorting
him to the door.
Buckingham, go after to the Council
Infer the bastardy of Edward's children!
Moreover, urge his hateful lechery,
Which stretched unto their servants, daughters, wives.
Doubt not, my Lord. I'll play the
As if the golden fee for which I plead
Were for myself.
BUCKINGHAM leaves. RICHARD calls CATESBY
Catesby! Give order that no manner of
Have any time recourse unto the princes.
Alone, RICHARD places a vinyl record on a
record player. Cheerful popular music echoes round the office, as
RICHARD re-examines the police photos.
|'The civil peace enforced us to this
execution.' Richard intends to avoid a coup d'etat by being
voted into power with the approval of the powerful business
interests of the City of London, whose representative is the Lord
RL is deciding where the camera will be positioned. At his
feet, a member of Peter Biziou's crew is ready to give the actors
our chalk-marked positions on the floor. Then we can leave the
set. Our stand-ins will take our places whilst the electricians
set up their lights.
'Infer the bastardy of Edward's children!' If the two
princes were to be accepted as bastards, Richard could
legitimately succeed to the throne. Whether or not he is
slandering King Edward, this reveals Richard's bitterness that he
feels unattractive to women.
'As if the golden fee for which I plead
Were for myself.' Buckingham's jokey reminder to Richard that
the deal is the Earldom of Hereford etc.
RICHARD re-examines the police photos. Onstage, I had
daintily poked a finger into the bloody bucket containing
Hastings's severed head. I prefer the film's less messy
examination of the execution photos.
INT. LOBBY OF THE COUNCIL HOUSE - DAY
The architecture is Victorian Gothic
stability, the corridors like naves and the ceilings stretching up
to the gods of Commerce and Rectitude. There is no-one about.
There is an increasing murmur of a
disorderly meeting from behind a door across the lobby.
From inside, BUCKINGHAM'S voice is raised
BUCKINGHAM bursts through the door, beyond
which a full meeting of the City of London has been in session,
and makes for the lift. At the doorway, the LORD MAYOR nervously
wonders what is now expected of him.
|scene 75. There was very little
chance of removing anything from the edited film which contained
text, as it had already been cut to the bone. However, this
invented scene (I had contributed 'God!') seemed redundant within
the finished assembly and was deleted.
EXT. ARENA - EVENING
Half-underground, the Lord Protector's
limousine, with RATCLIFFE at the wheel, draws up at the rear
entrance to the great Arena, avoiding the CROWDS, whose murmur can
be heard, somewhere above.
TYRELL gets out of the car behind and
moves forward to help clear a path through the crowd of Press.
Protected by military black-shirted
BUCKINGHAM is waiting to usher RICHARD into
RICHARD is anxious about what happened at
What say the citizens?
scenes 76-86 were shot over two days,
beneath the Earls Court Exhibition Centre in south-west London
(Howard Crane, 1936). Buckingham and Catesby have now adopted the
uniform of Richard's guards. This followed from Shakespeare's clue
that Richard liked dressing-up and was interested in clothes - 'a
score or two of tailors' (scene 26) and
from the oddest stage direction in Shakespeare: 'Enter Richard and
Buckingham in rotten armour, marvellous ill-favoured'(3.5). This
sounds like an opinion rather than a description; but it indicates
that they are in startling new clothes. From this, Richard Eyre
and Bob Crowley supposed they might be in uniform.
INT. CORRIDOR - BENEATH ARENA - NIGHT
RICHARD and BUCKINGHAM, followed by
RATCLIFFE and TYRELL, stride along the underground corridors,
lined with cladded pipes. Above them, a great crowd is assembling
in the Arena.
BUCKINGHAM tells a long-winded story.
Touched you the bastardy of Edward's
As BUCKINGHAM continues, RICHARD gets more
The insatiate greediness of his
His tyranny for trifles. His own bastardy.
Your discipline in war, wisdom in peace,
Your bounty, virtue, fair humility.
And, when my oratory drew to an end,
I bade those who did love their country's good,
Cry 'God Save King Richard, England's royal King!'
And did they so?
No. So God help me, they spoke not a
|scene 77. Richard is impatient
for news. Buckingham has failed so far with the City fathers but
he has a plan for his client. He does not want Richard waggling
his hand at the Lord Mayor, as he had done in scene 71.
The sounds of a great crowd gathering overhead was RL's
invention and developed cinematically the impression of a
political rally which closed Part One of the RNT production.
INT. RECEPTION ROOM - BENEATH ARENA -
The decor is pure art deco. This is the
star's reception room. At the other end of the deep carpet is the
door to the private dressing-room.
RATCLIFFE opens the door into the
reception room, where CATESBY is waiting for RICHARD and
RICHARD is fuming as he enters.
What tongueless blocks are they! Would
they not speak?
A MAKE-UP ARTIST quickly puts down her
sherry glass and the HAIRDRESSER looks up from a lurid romance
RATCLIFFE closes the door, remaining on
guard with TYRELL in the corridor outside.
The Lord Mayor and his colleagues have
This stops RICHARD in his tracks.
Pretend some fear!
Before RICHARD can respond to this
astonishing request, BUCKINGHAM has bundled him through into the
CATESBY indicates that the MAKE-UP ARTIST
and HAIRDRESSER should stay put in the reception room and then
follows RICHARD and BUCKINGHAM and closes the door.
INT. DRESSING-ROOM - BENEATH ARENA -
Another stylish room, with every comfort
for the visiting celebrity. Sofas and side-tables with nibbles,
drinks, newspapers and massive floral displays. RICHARD paces
And, look you, get a prayerbook in your
Be not easily won by our requests.
Play the maid's part - still answer 'No' and take it!
RICHARD likes the idea. CATESBY takes in
No doubt we will bring it to a happy
You shall see what I can do.
CATESBY opens the door and lets in the
MAKE-UP ARTIST and HAIRDRESSER. BUCKINGHAM leaves with CATESBY, to
meet the LORD MAYOR who RATCLIFFE has admitted to the reception
room. The MAKE-UP ARTIST begins to give RICHARD the beautification
'Play the maid's part - still answer
"No" and take it!' With this misogynistic joke
Buckingham persuades Richard, for the first time in his life, to
do what he is told. 'High-reaching Buckingham' is flying and
Richard is looking forward to his own contribution. They are a
INT. RECEPTION ROOM - BENEATH ARENA -
The LORD MAYOR has persuaded a dozen
distinguished- looking BANKERS and CIVIC LEADERS from the Council
House to meet RICHARD. They are men of the world, somewhat
reluctantly here. They will take some convincing. We recognise
LORD STANLEY, RICHMOND and the ARCHBISHOP. RATCLIFFE, checking
everyone is present, retires to the corridor. The charade begins.
(politely but firmly)
He does entreat you, my Lord
To visit him tomorrow, or next day.
He is within, with two right reverend priests.
Tell him, myself, the Mayor, and these
Are come to have some conference with him.
I'll tell him what you say, my Lord.
CATESBY knocks and goes into the
dressing-room, smartly, so no-one can see inside.
Ah ha. Lord Mayor. Richard is not King
He is not lulling on a lewd love-bed,
But meditating with two deep divines . . .
|scene 80. The underground room
at Earls Court had no atmosphere until the art department added
its wall panels (9 feet x 4 feet) each with a legend from the play
e.g.: 'This Noble Isle', 'Glorious Summer', over an appropriate
poster to encourage the nation's shipbuilding and harvesting.
This transformation reminded me of recently visiting a
Hollywood office which had once been a film studio. In the inner
courtyard there were still wooden staircases leading up to the old
dressing-rooms. One of these had been used by Humphrey Bogart. It
was where Casablanca had been filmed. I rushed down the steps and
peered through the window of the doors into the cellar that some
fifty years before had been Rick's Cafe. All I could see was a
characterless space filled with piles of discarded paperwork,
detritus of the electronic revolution. The door was locked and
there was no point in asking for the key.
DRESSING-ROOM - BENEATH ARENA - NIGHT
A dab of powder completes the make-up.
Brylcreem is applied.
. . . and praying, to enrich his
Happy were England, would this virtuous man,
Take on his
Grace the sovereignty thereof.
|scene 81. Ratcliffe is left
inside the dressing-room with the make-up and hair artists, so
that he could remain innocent of Richard's deceitfulness.
ROOM - BENEATH ARENA - NIGHT
God defend Richard should say
'No' to us.
I fear he will.
He wonders to what end you have assembled
Such troops of citizens to speak with him.
My Lord, he fears you
mean no good to him.
By Heaven, we come to him in
A couple of them seem to agree with that.
ROOM - BENEATH ARENA - NIGHT
BUCKINGHAM opens the door to the
dressing-room a crack and calls to RICHARD.
My Lord Protector, pray pardon
us The interruption of your devotions.
RICHARD enters modestly, prayer-book in
hand. The room falls expectantly silent.
BUCKINGHAM acts relieved
My Lord, there needs no such apology.
suspect I have done some offence.
You have! Will it please you to amend your
Else wherefore breathe I in a
Know then, it is your fault that you
The supreme seat, the throne majestical.
solicit you take on
The kingly government of this your land,
as Lord Protector, but from blood to blood -
Your right of birth, your
empery, your own.
Your love deserves my thanks; but my
Unmeritable, shuns your high request.
First, if all obstacles were cut away,
Yet, so much is my poverty of spirit,
So mighty and so many my defects
That I would rather hide me from my greatness.
But, God be thanked, there is no need of
The royal tree has left us royal fruit -
- You say the Prince of Wales is your
So say we too - but born before his
RICHARD looks appalled at this slander.
Then, good my Lord, take to your royal
This proffered benefit of dignity.
0, good my Lord Protector . . .
We entreat you.
Gloucester, this proffered love!
|scene 84. In my first draft, I
had adopted Shakespeare's outdoor setting.
EXT. INNER COURTYARD OF THE PALACE - NIGHT
A wintry scene - a sprinkling of snow on the cobblestones.
Gaslamps throw pools of soft, yellow light below an impressive
balcony of granite.
A group of up to a hundred ALDERMEN, in winter coats, hats,
gloves and scarves, are tentatively gathering, quietly and
expectantly chatting to each other. In the shadows, beneath the
arches surrounding the courtyard, Richard's troops, in black,
The balcony is dazzlingly lit by floodlights. Two priests and
a Commander-in-Chief at prayer.
Olivier's film did something similar, providing himself with
the startling slide down the rope, which sets all the bells of
London clanging with acclamation. Within our modernised setting,
RL contained the scene within less theatrical confines. Having the
city deputation close-to, I was under pressure to be a really
convincing liar. I slipped on Richard's reading glasses, which had
my prescription in period frames, to suggest a placid bookworm,
despite the black uniform.
'Not as Lord Protector, but from blood to blood -'
Richard will never have an heir to whom he could pass on the
throne. Kristin Scott Thomas and I agreed that Lady Anne and
Richard did not have sex after their first unsuccessful attempt -
'First, if all obstacles were cut away . . .' Richard
allows himself his little private joke, which the audience can
share because they have seen Clarence and Rivers both cut away.
The line is phrased comically - the long sound of 'were' gives
Richard time to think how he can best put it; a half-pause that
leads to the ironic euphemism of 'cut away'.
(sotto voce to LORD STANLEY)
Truly, the hearts of men are full of fear.
I am unfit for state and majesty.
Then we will plant some other
on the throne!
I do beseech you take it not amiss.
cannot, nor I will not, yield to you!
(making to leave)
Your brother's son will never reign our
Gentlemen, come! I will entreat no more.
0, do not swear, my lord of
The CITY GENTLEMEN look as if they will
leave with BUCKINGHAM.
Call him again, My Lord, Accept
Will you enforce me to a world of cares?
Call him again.
CATESBY goes toward BUCKINGHAM who turns
|'Truly, the hearts of men are full
of fear.' This line is transposed from a scene in the play
(2.3) where three citizens, on their way to a council meeting,
discuss the recent death of King Edward and the impending doom of
Richard's Lord Protectorship.
Roger Hammond plays the Archbishop. He and I were both born and
bred in the north of England. We met in 1958 at Cambridge
University, acting together with undergraduate dramatic societies.
As professionals, we have both been beneficiaries of the influence
that Cambridge graduates had on British Theatre in the Sixties and
Seventies, through the actors, directors, managers and drama
critics who shared the same academic training and cultural
e.g.: my first Shakespeare,
2, was directed by Richard Cottrell (Cambridge 1957-60)
and produced by Toby Robertson (1950-2). My first
season for the RSC was directed by Trevor Nunn (1959-61) and
John Barton (who, when a postgraduate at Cambridge, had directed
Roger, me, David Frost, Derek Jacobi, Terrence Hardiman, Richard
Cottrell and John Tydeman, a future head of Drama for BBC Radio).
For the RNT, I played Coriolanus
for Peter Hall (1954-7) and Richard
III for Richard Eyre (1962-65).
I am not made of stone.
you will buckle fortune on my back,
I must have patience to endure
The CITY GENTLEMEN are pleased at their
powers of persuasion.
But God doth know, and you may partly see,
How far I am from the desire of this.
RICHARD walks out, accompanied by
|'I am not made of stone.' Just
as onstage an actor's attention is balanced between relating to
the other actors and being aware of the audience's reaction, when
filming you are never exclusively concentrating on the action,
unless the camera is so far away that it can be ignored. At this
point, finding myself close to the lens, as if it were another
player in the scene, it seemed appropriate to treat it as a
participant and address this line directly.
'Since you will buckle fortune on my back . . .' is a
sly reference to his deformed spine, as Richard plays the sympathy
Perhaps for the first time, Buckingham has
discovered excitement in his life. His mistake is to think that he
will ever again be able to control an ego the size of Richard's.
INT. CORRIDOR -
BENEATH ARENA - NIGHT
CATESBY ushers the GENTLEMEN out through
the door, as RICHARD acknowledges them in turn.
BUCKINGHAM leads them down the corridor to
the Arena above, accompanied by RATCLIFFE and TYRELL.
LORD STANLEY, with RICHMOND and the
ARCHBISHOP, follows behind.
RICHARD pauses for a moment, then turns
and walks down the opposite corridor.
ROOM - BENEATH ARENA - NIGHT
The sound of the amassed CROWD drowns the
rumble of the escalators as BUCKINGHAM, RATCLIFFE, TYRELL and the CITY GENTLEMEN make their way up
to the Arena above.
LORD STANLEY hesitates behind, with
RICHMOND and the ARCHBISHOP.
If you will outstrip death, go cross the
And live, dear Richmond, from the reach of Hell.
Go, my dear nephew, from this
LORD STANLEY and the ARCHBISHOP shake
hands with RICHMOND, and alight the escalators. RICHMOND watches
them for a moment, then turns and walks back down the corridor.
CATESBY has observed this parting, as he
waits to conduct the ARCHBISHOP and LORD STANLEY up to the Arena.
The crowd above is sounding increasingly enthusiastic.
INT. ARENA -
The Arena is packed with thousands of
RICHARD'S SUPPORTERS, male and female, young and old, civilian and
blackshirts. On the platform, DRUMMERS AND TRUMPETERS are lined
behind the CITY GENTLEMEN, all in place. The last to enter are the
ARCHBISHOP and LORD STANLEY, looking somewhat appalled at the vast
On BUCKINGHAM'S entrance onstage, the
place erupts. He approaches the podium, bristling with
Long live King Richard!
There is a gasp of delight at this
unexpected announcement. The trumpets sound the percussive martial
music which RICHARD played to himself in his office.
The mighty arc-lights swing across the
heads of the crowd, signifying that the Lord Protector has arrived
in the auditorium. As RICHARD slowly marches onstage, from
up-centre, the entire audience rises and cheers and waves. A CHILD
breaks ranks and throws RICHARD a posy of flowers. Film cameras
whirr. Flaming torches are lit.
Amen! Amen! Amen! Amen! Amen!
As RICHARD reaches the podium, the
orgiastic climax surpasses itself.
RICHARD acknowledges his subjects with a
dazzling smile and as he raises his good arm in greeting, behind
him his new flag unfurls - red, white and black. RICHARD is happy
for the last time in his life.
A press release was broadcast on local radio: 'Anyone over 16
who is interested in helping with the crucial scene where Richard
accepts the title of King of England should present themselves at
3.00pm on Monday 31 July, at Hall no. 2, The Royal Horticultural
Hall, Greycoat Street, London SWI.
'You should wear a dark-coloured jacket or shirt or T-shirt and
be prepared to spend 3 hours filming. You need never have acted
but because of the film's historical period you should be
'There is no payment.'
Two hundred people responded and were grouped in a corner of
the art deco Hall. They included my sister Jean, who is a keen
amateur actor and director (one of her earliest performances at
Wigan High School for Girls was as Bottom in A Midsummer
Night's Dream) and her husband Foster, as well as my friends,
neighbours and Liam, the manager of my local bar. Kristin Scott
Thomas and I were there too, with others from the crew. We waved
our banners, shouted and saluted. Then we were moved in changed
formations around the Hall to be filmed again. The varying shots
were electronically re-assembled so that we seemed to fill the
Hall which, by further trick photography, was expanded to three
times its actual length.
Our repeated chant of'Amen!' (3.7) was changed in the final cut
to 'Richard!' Onstage, I had acknowledged my subjects with a
full-arm salute but in the film did not want to specifically
identify Richard with fascism.