Tom Hooper, director of “The King’s Speech,” normally doesn’t get up at before dawn. But on Tuesday, Oscar nominations day, he rose with the sun at the Chateau Marmont in Hollywood and now is basking in the warm glow of a director nomination (as well as 11 others for the film).
“I watched the telecast and then sat on the balcony and watched the sunrise as I called my mom, dad, Colin [Firth], Geoffrey [Rush] and Helena” Bonham Carter, he said. ”My mom was the reason this whole thing’s happened,” he noted, because she first went to a reading of David Seidler’s play about King George’s VI stuttering problem and said it would make a good movie.
Firth was nominated for actor in a leading role, while Rush and Bonham Carter received nominations in the supporting actor and actress categories. The movie was also nominated for best picture.
As for why “The King’s Speech” is resonating, Hooper said: “This fear of losing our ability to communicate is very common to people. There’s that recurring nightmare when you can’t shout out in a dream or you scream for help or you lose your voice. It taps into that. I think that must be connecting in a deep way.”
This is the first time that Hooper has been nominated for an Academy Award. Although in hindsight “The King’s Speech” may look like a quintessential Oscar nominee, when the film was in development, it didn’t feel like that, Hooper said.
“There was that sort of moment when there was this idea that this was a cynical attempt to make a film to get this kind of attention. It didn’t seem to be particularly obvious to anyone when we were trying to finance it,” he said. “It had a precarious birth. There were many times when I thought, ‘Oh, God, this is gonna fall apart.’ ”
Whether or not he wins, Hooper said he’s grateful.
“Whatever happens to the movie, it’s unbelievable the journey we’ve been on,” he said. “The greatest gift is the way audiences respond. The greatest reward is how emotional it seems to make people feel.”
-- Rebecca Keegan
Photo: "The King's Speech" director Tom Hooper is flanked by actors Colin Firth, left, and Geoffrey Rush at the American Film Institute's AFI Fest in Los Angeles in November. Credit: Matt Sayles / Associated Press