Set Pieces: Behind the scenes of 'The King's Speech'
On paper, a film about a stuttering monarch and his speech therapist seems as exciting as watching paint dry. Yet "The King's Speech" delivers not only riveting drama, but also Academy Award-nominated art direction by production designer Eve Stewart and set decorator Jude Farr, who capture the grandeur of the royal residences of George VI (Colin Firth, above left) and the home of his teacher and friend, Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush, above right).
The locations and furnishings are exquisite, but the walls are what speak volumes. Edward and his wife live in paneled rooms with gilded frames and friezes; Logue's office, above, has a fascinating backdrop.
Farr described the space via e-mail: "This was a location in Portland Place, central London. A beautiful, but slightly run down Georgian town house. The wall finishes were a combination of years of old wallpapers and thick paint and varnish. All we had to do was clean off the modern graffiti. The idea was that Lionel had very little money, therefore he just moved into this basement with the minimal furniture, obviously not intending visits from royalty. Even if he had, his slightly belligerent carefree attitude would not have fussed about his environment."
Farr said the furnishings in Logue's apartment were minimal, "as we thought the Logue family would have only bought personal things from Australia. Their furniture would have been bought second-hand. We assumed it had been decorated in the 1920s, therefore the Art Deco paper was appropriate." Period paper was purchased from London supplier Trevor Howsam. "He only has 2 rolls left and has been inundated with requests for it," Farr said.
Though I couldn't find an exact match to the wallpaper in the Logue's place, pictured below left with Queen Elizabeth (Helena Bonham Carter) visiting for tea, a few online options deliver the same kind of look. Bradbury & Bradbury Art Wallpapers have an Art Deco collection with a pattern called Zenith, below right, in six color combinations; a 30-square-foot roll sells for $72. Hannah's Treasures also has an abundance of 1930s florals and period patterns.
Later in the film, at the dawn of World War II, Logue seems to have moved up in the world, if you can judge by the furniture and wallpaper in his home, below.
The paper, as shown in this picture of one of the Logue children, is Jagmandir from the Sariskar range by Osborne & Little, a British company with a showroom at the Pacific Design Center. The bold, metallic print depicting trees and birds is so beautiful, you'll be pausing your DVD players to get a better look.
-- David A. Keeps
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Photo, Zenith wallpaper detail: Bradbury & Bradbury. All other photos: The Weinstein Co.
Corrected and updated: An earlier version of this post cited King Edward VI, not King George VI. The post also was updated to add a photo and sourcing information for the Osborne & Little wallpaper.