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THE HAPPY PRINCE

Director's Statement
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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