The Big Picture

Patrick Goldstein and James Rainey
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'King's Speech's' David Seidler on his big Oscar dilemma: Rent or buy a tux?

February 18, 2011 |  4:38 pm

David_seilder I have to admit that when it comes to the Oscars, I'm at the stage where I'm going--isn't it over yet?  It feels like the Oscar race lasts longer than the NBA season, if that's possible--and the Oscars don't even have a fun All-Star break with a slam-dunk contest, like the NBA will have this weekend. Let's face it, unless "Winter's Bone" wins best picture, it's hard to imagine there being all that many shockers or snubs on Oscar Sunday. (And speaking of snubs, do ya think the media could retire all those tiresome "Fill In the Blank SNUBBED!" stories for a year or two?)

On the other hand, if I'd been laboring in obscurity for 40 years, writing forgettable made-for-TV movies, and suddenly found myself as the favorite in the best original screenplay category, I'd be enjoying every minute of the silliness. That brings us to David Seidler, who indeed had seen his career in such low gear in recent years that when "The King's Speech" debuted at Telluride last fall, he didn't even have an agent. If Seidler wins the original screenplay Oscar next Sunday, he will be, at 73, the oldest writer to ever win in that category.

So he's having the time of his life. I asked him if he'd write a little essay about what it's like to be thrown into the Oscar maelstrom, which he puckishly titled "Confessions of a 73-Year-Old Oscars Virgin." His biggest worry, as it turns out, has been whether to rent or buy a tux. As he recounts in the essay, which you can read here, he ended up buying a lot more than a tuxedo. He also discovered that when you're 73 and everyone in the world starts writing stories about your overnight success, a lot of your ex-girlfriends come out of the woodwork, presumably to find out whether you're, ahem, an eligible bachelor or not. As he explains: "They all loved me. In fact, had always adored me, but I'd misunderstood. I guess I didn't understand why they never returned my phone calls. I can be so stupid."

Actually, Seidler is wicked smart, wryly funny and it's hard to imagine anyone who deserves to enjoy his requisite 15 minutes in the spotlight more than the man who gave us the gift of "The King's Speech."  

--Patrick Goldstein

Photo: David Seidler with his original screenplay award for "The King's Speech" at the BAFTAS in London. Credit: David Hogan/Getty Images