THE HAPPY PRINCE
My fascination with Oscar Wilde began when I was six years old and my mother
read me 'The Happy Prince' at night in bed. I remember it very well. I was enraptured by the
story and inconsolable at the end. Coming from a military family with a distinctly
pre-Freudian world view - it was probably the first time I heard about Love and suffering and that there
was a terrible price to be paid for it. 'The Happy Prince' was a turning point.
In 1975, I moved to London. It is difficult to imagine now but it had only
been legal to be gay for seven years and the police - making the most of the ambiguity in the 1967 law
continued to raid and arrest people for homosexual acts in public and so there was a palpable
feeling that we were stepping in Oscar's freshly trodden footprints on those unlucky occasions when
we were herded into paddy wagons and taken down to the police station for the night.
Later I became an actor and performed in 'The Picture of Dorian Gray.' It was
a great success. When an actor discovers a writer who really works for him - that he can perform
well and make his own - it is the beginning of a treasured relationship. Something between me
and the text sparked. A few years later I performed 'The Importance of Being Earnest' (in
French) at the Theatre National de Chaillot in Paris and then made two films from Wilde plays -
'An Ideal Husband' and 'The Importance of Being Earnest.' At around this point my career
dried up - literally evaporated overnight and I began to write. I decided to create a role
for myself. If no one else would employ me I would employ myself. Oscar Wilde seemed to be the ideal
character. Not the Wilde of folk lore, the iconic family man, the life and soul of the cafe
royal but a different Wilde, the fallen star, the last great vagabond of the nineteenth century -
punished and crushed by society, yet somehow surviving. I would write the Passion of Wilde! After I had
been turned down by almost every director of note I decided to make the film myself. If I had
been in possession of a crystal ball I would not have embarked on such a journey. It took ten years to
get to preproduction. - Rupert Everett
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