ShareWe’re in Gloucester Cathedral in January and it is freezing. Jeremy Irons has admitted to wearing long johns and Tom Hiddleston says he’s been piling the layers on too, but mainly on his top half “because otherwise it’s a mission to go to the loo”. The director, Richard Eyre, has a very large Michelin-man coat on. “I’ve found a radiator!” sobs one of the extras.
The actors are midway through a key scene from Shakespeare’s Henry IV part one, an exchange that constitutes one of the great dressings-down in literature. Sporting a cloak and furs over those thermals, as well as a thorny beard, Irons is playing the king in a rage, tearing strips off Hiddleston, humble and ashamed as Henry IV’s errant son, Prince Hal....
The film they are making will form part of a tetralogy of Shakespeare history plays that the BBC is presenting as a contribution to the year’s sprawling Cultural Olympiad and the Beeb’s own Shakespeare Unlocked season. The full sequence of plays, entitled The Hollow Crown, and following the fall of one branch of the Plantagenets and the rise of another, will be Richard II, Henry IV parts one and two and Henry V.
This line up has been put together by executive producers Sam Mendes (more a benign consultant in the distance thanks to his duties on the next Bond film, Skyfall) and Pippa Harris (last production, the ratings hit Call the Midwife). “The plays seemed particularly fitting for this particular year, with the Olympics but also the jubilee,” says Harris. “They are about monarchy, they are about England. They are about British history.” (Read entire article.)