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Directed by: Madonna
Script by: Madonna, Alek Keshishian
Status: Premiere Sept. 1, 2011 (68th Venice Film Festival)
Genre: Romantic Drama
Runtime: 119 min
Production Studio: Semtex Films, IM Global
Co-Stars: Abbie Cornish, Oscar Isaacs, Andrea Riseborough, Laurence & James Fox, Richard Coyle
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DVD & Blue-ray Release:
Role: Edward VIII
King of England 1935-1936. The controversial ruler who abdicated the throne in 1936 to marry his American lover, an upper-crust divorcée named Wallis Simpson
Plot: W.E. tells the story of two women, separated by more than six decades. In 1998, lonely New Yorker Winthrop is obsessed with what she perceives as the ultimate love story: King Edward VIII's abdication of the throne for the woman he loved, American divorcée Wallis Simpson. But Winthrop's research, including several visits to the Sotheby's auction of the Windsor Estate, reveals that the couple's life together was not as perfect as she thought. Weaving back and forth in time, the film intertwines Wally's journey of discovery in New York with the story of Wallis and Edward, from the glamorous early days of their romance to the slow unraveling of their lives in the decades that followed.
Trivia & Facts:
- Budget: £18m
- Abel Korzeniowski recorded the score at Abbey Road Studios in London April 2011
- Madonna found the 80 costume changes daunting because the Duke and Duchess were both real clotheshorses. She was dressed in Balenciaga, Dior, Vionnet and Schiaparelli. Madonna needed vintage pieces and borrowed museum pieces
- During the scenes shot in Eastnor Castle, James D’Arcy celebrated his birthday and with only a few hours notice the Castle resident cook made two fabulous cakes for James and the crew
- James Fox (King George V) and Laurence Fox (Prince Albert / King George VI) are father and son in real life
- Wallis Simpson was a patron of the Paris couture house of Madeleine Vionnet in the 1930's. Her original orders are still held in the companies archives, and recreations of four of those gowns were made by the fashion house for this film
- James accidentally called Madonna God in an email and the nick name stuck.
- James showed up for the audition with his trousers tucked in to his socks, to imitate the king’s style.
- A Cartier replica of Wallis's cross bracelet - Edward bought Wallis jeweled crosses for different occasions to celebrate their love - came undone during a beach scene in Cannes. Crew members borrowed snorkeling masks to search the sea, but to no avail.
Film Location: London, Paris, New York; Villefranche-sur-Mer, Palm Beach (French Riviera); Cap d'Antibes, Alpes-Maritimes (France); Eastnor Castle, Debenham House “Peacock House”, Eltham Palace, Hughenden Manor (UK)
Awards & Nominations:
Golden Globes (2012) - Best Original Song: "Masterpiece", Madonna
Costume Designers Guild Awards (2012) - Excellence in Period Film, Arianne Phillips
World Soundtrack Awards (2012) - Public Choice Award, Abel Korzeniowski
James D’Arcy: There was a dance sequence that when I first saw it was like something out of Dancing With The Stars it was amazing - and I can't dance. It was this extraordinary beautiful dance with lifts and twirls and I can't do that, but you do because she somehow makes the impossible possible and it gives you amazing self esteem when you do these things.
(Madonna) challenged me to learn to play the bagpipes in six weeks, which is next to impossible I was told, but I did manage to do it because you feel like there's no other way, you've just got to do it.
Madonna used to curtsey to me quite a lot. She used to call me Your Royal Highness, she still calls me that when she emails me.
Colin Vaines (Producer): We've found the right cast for this picture now ... The addition of James is wonderful as he's got such charisma and possesses a real regal quality that he can capture. There was a real chemistry between him and Andrea and I feel very good about the cast we've got.
Madonna: I didn't realise it when we were writing the script, but once I started casting and planning and working with my production designer, I went, 'Oh, f**k. I wrote a script about a bunch of rich people. That's going to be great for the budget.' Next time, I'm writing a movie about one person in one place who has no wardrobe!
The Prince, portrayed superbly as a blonde, blue-eyed boy by James D'Arcy --- Daily Mail, Baz Bamiboye, Sept 1 2011
Another very valid reason for a cinema trip is the appearence of James D'Arcy who cuts quite a dash as Edward --- Fashioneditoratlarge, Melanie Ricky, Sept 2 2011
Andrea Riseborough is a wonderful Wallis and conveys a righteous scorn at formality but also a vulnerable interior beneath her porcelain mask. James D’Arcy also makes a great Edward VIII – handsome, chain-smoking and seemingly carefree. There’s a feeling that Wallis is doing the worrying for both of them. There’s great chemistry between the two, a real sense of joy, which lifts a production which could easily have become a stiff and stuffy affair --- On the Box, Jez Sands, Jan. 20, 2012
W.E. is by no means a perfect film, Madonna has presented us with a aesthetically beautiful piece of work. Andrea Riseborough and James D'Arcy both give two mesmerizing performances in this sympathetic and unconventional take on a piece of British history --- Silver Screen Slags, Jan. 20, 2012