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Anonymous - Rafe Spall interview

Anonymous

Interview by Rob Carnevale

RAFE Spall, who plays William Shakespeare in Roland Emmerich’s Anonymous, tallks about some of the controversy surrounding the authorship debate and why he was drawn to the project.

Q. You had one of the hardest roles in the movie, which was to play Shakespeare. How did you find that?
Rafe Spall: It was a joy, yeah. In terms of how people became involved in the film, I had loads of auditions and then I found out it maybe wasn’t going to go my way and that inspired me to write a letter to Roland saying: “Come on Roland, give me the film!” And he did. So, I tried really hard. You get the call saying that there’s an audition to play Shakespeare and then you read it and you go: “Oh, that makes sense!” As my friend pointed out, I would never play the real Shakespeare… only the Fakespeare, so here I find myself.

Q. You’ve performed Shakespeare and done the research… so what do feel about a theory that suggests that Shakespeare wasn’t written by a working class man but a lord?
Rafe Spall: Well, people are very passionate about it. And I’ve discovered really how passionate people are about it in the last few weeks, promoting this film. I mean, it was just on the lunchtime news how much people really care about it. I don’t. I care about telling the story and I care about the work and I think what this film does is that it puts these plays in a social-political context. Now, it’s just a story, it’s a set of events because what we know about the real Shakespeare you could write on an A4 piece of paper. So, it’s all stories and it’s just one version but if people come out of this and Google Edward de Vere or go to the Globe or the RSC and see a Shakespeare play with a different set of eyes I think we’ve been successful and that’s all I care about.

Q. Did you have any apprehension about upsetting Shakespeare purists when you first read the script?
Rafe Spall: I just want to be in good films that tell good stories and this isn’t, even though it deals with an academic subject it isn’t an academic or dry or superior film. It’s a film like his works, which is for everybody and that’s what I’m more interested in being a part of.

Read our review of Anonymous

Read our interview with Roland Emmerich