Tom Hooper, Putting Words To 'The King's Speech' In 1936, George VI reluctantly ascended to the British throne after his older brother abdicated. Tom Hooper's new film, The King's Speech, tells the true story of George VI's stammer and his relationship with an unconventional speech therapist who helped him speak.
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Tom Hooper, Putting Words To 'The King's Speech'

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Tom Hooper, Putting Words To 'The King's Speech'

Tom Hooper, Putting Words To 'The King's Speech'

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This is FRESH AIR. I'm Dave Davies, filling in for Terry Gross.

Imagine you've grown up with an embarrassing speech impediment that makes you terrified of public speaking and you suddenly become an important world leader who has to address the public. That's the fate that befell King George VI of England, who came to the throne in 1936 after his brother King Edward abdicated to marry an American divorcee.

After years of speech therapy King George gave this radio address in 1939 when Hitler had invaded Poland and England had declared war on Germany.

KING GEORGE VI (King of England): For the second time in the lives of most of us, we are at war. Over and over again we have tried to find a peaceful way out of the differences between ourselves and those who are now our enemies. But it has been in vain.

DAVIES: King George's long relationship with his unconventional speech therapist is the subject of the new film "The King's Speech," directed by our guest Tom Hooper. Colin Firth plays the king in the film. The Australian-born speech therapist is played by Geoffrey Rush. Tom Hooper won an Emmy for directing the HBO miniseries "Elizabeth I," starring Helen Mirren. He also directed the miniseries, "John Adams." Among his other films are "Longford and The Damned United."

Well, Tom Hooper, welcome to FRESH AIR.

Mr. TOM HOOPER (Director): Thanks, Dave.

DAVIES: This film, "The King's Speech," this is one of those films where we don't have to worry about giving away the story. I mean, it's fairly straightforward. It's about this very close relationship between the king, George VI and his unorthodox speech therapist. And there's a fascinating back story of how the screenwriter David Seidler developed the story. Tell us where his interest came from and how he pursued it.

Mr. HOOPER: Well the story of how this film was made really begins in the Second World War with a small boy who had a terrible stammer. And this little boy used to listen to King George VI on the radio and think, well, if the King of England can cope with a stammer maybe there's hope for me. And that little boy is our screenwriter, David Seidler.

King George VI was David's childhood hero, his inspiration, his guiding light and when he grew up and became a writer he long dreamed of writing about King George VI. And so he started to research this and got some blips on the radar of one Lionel Logue, a speech therapist for the king, of which there was very little information about. But he managed to track down a Valentine Logue, who features in our movie, who is the son of Lionel Logue.

And Valentine revealed that there was in his attic a handwritten diary account of the speech therapist, his father's relationship with the king. But he said, you know, before I show it to you, you need to get permission from the palace. So he wrote to the palace. And the Queen Mother wrote back to David and said, yes, but please not in our lifetime. The memories of these events are still too painful.

DAVIES: King George VI of course led his nation during World War II and was an important inspirational figure for his people and had to give all these speeches on the radio. And it's interesting that he was confronted with this challenge of conquering his stutter in some respects because of technology, right? I mean, 30 years before or after he wouldn't have had such an issue would he?

Mr. HOOPER: No, I mean, what's extraordinary about the whole drama of this story, it derives from the advent of this new medium, this new mass communication medium called radio. Because before the advent of radio the king was a visual icon. I mean, as long as he could wave from a carriage, look good on a horse, look good in uniform, he could perform the theatrical duty of being a king which was principally I would say in terms of mass iconography visual. And with the coming of radio suddenly the king was required to speak, to connect, and therefore to be effectively an actor.

So you have this guy, you know, whos the younger brother, who has no expectation of being king. You know, his older brother gives up the throne to marry the American Wallis Simpson. He has a terrible stammer and becomes king right at the moment when this medium has taken off. And, you know, his audience is not just in England, you know, Britain still has 58 countries in the empire, so it's a vast emergent global audience. You know, and he can't speak.

And even more ironically, it's that, you know, 10, 15-year window when it was only a live medium. I mean, you could not prerecord. You could not edit, so you couldn't cheat the stammers out. It had to be a live performance.

DAVIES: When he gave these wartime speeches, was this speech therapist, Lionel Logue in the room with him? Was he the only one in the room?

Mr. HOOPER: Yeah, I mean, that's what we can tell from the diaries is that, you know, Lionel Logue was in the room, one on one with the king for pretty much all the, you know, the wartime speeches. And, you know, one of the things that's so, you know, the other great thing about the diaries is it reveals what lies behind, you know, famous imagery.

So for example, it was my birthday recently and my sister gave me a copy of The Times from the 4th of September 1939, so the day after wars been declared. Now it being England and we're an understated nation, news of the outbreak of the Second World War made page eight of The Times. And on page eight there's a big half page picture of King George VI in his full naval uniform at this grand ornate desk with these ornate microphones his father used in a very grand and gilt room, giving the speech that we see at the end of our movie which is basically the speech he made when war was declared.

But we know from the diaries that this is not true. He made it in a special room that Logue set up which he decorated to make it look cheerful with an old school desk that Logue had rescued from the basement of Buckingham Palace, you know, which he'd hammered wooden stilts on to raise it up. And the king did it standing up with his jacket off, with the window open, with Logue in the room one on one.

And so we know, I now know that that image, that famous image of him giving the speech is complete nonsense. It's a fabrication. It's a piece of propaganda and that's what, you know, is so lovely about the diaries is not only did it give us some flavor of that dialogue and their relationship, but it also, you know, gave these wonderful physical clues with which to get behind, you know, the surface of the monarch at that time.

DAVIES: So the world knew that King George VI struggled with a speech impediment but knew that he had managed to overcome that and give these speeches. And what this story really tells us now, it sort of unmasks this close collaborator, this man Lionel Logue, the speech therapist. Tell us just a little bit about him.

Mr. HOOPER: Well, he was older than the king and he was kind of someone, you know, who grew up, you know, basically being fascinated by the voice. So he was born in Adelaide but moved early in his life to Perth, where he married.

DAVIES: He's Australian.

Mr. HOOPER: He's Australian, yeah. In Perth he taught elocution in schools. He recited Shakespeare and Dickens. He acted a little bit. I think he taught drama and when the First World War came there was this sudden influx of young men returning from the Western front with speech problems, with post-traumatic stress disorder, with shell-shock.

And they literally kind of said oh, well you know, oh Lionel you're the local guy who knows about speech, so why don't you have a crack at helping these poor young men? And that's what he did. And he basically taught himself through trial and error speech therapy in Perth and developed techniques in order to help these men. And, you know, the script, our film suggests that what he felt was these young men, you know, had lost faith in their voice and he was giving them the right to be heard again, to talk about their trauma and to find their voice again.

And he went to England I think it was 1923 or 1924 and he went because I think on the encouragement of his wife because he felt that, you know, London was probably where it was at in terms of speech therapy and so, you know, he should go and find out more about it. And I think they went not intending to live there but they ended up staying. And he ended up setting up a practice in Harley Street and landing the biggest client of his life.

DAVIES: Right. And of course it's actually King George's wife, who's played in the film by Helena Bonham Carter, who comes and visits Lionel Logue. One of the things that you see in the - in his methods is that he believes it's not a matter simply of mechanics that there is a psychological basis for this and he invades the king's royal privacy by asking questions about what happened to him in his childhood. What do we know about the origins of King George's stutter?

Mr. HOOPER: What we know is that he had a very tough childhood. I mean, his parents were very absent. I mean, it's worth pointing out that children of that class you know, aristocratic children, the norm was you would be brought down at teatime every day and praised in front of your parents for half an hour and that was kind of the relationship. As a very young kid you're basically -you're mothered by nannies. But the nanny, you know, who he had very early on in life was absolutely in love with David, his older brother and didn't like him.

I mean not only didn't like him but neglected him and, you know, didn't feed him enough and caused him, you know, stomach problems which led to, you know, having ulcers and being invalided out of the army during the First World War, so I mean, what I know about stammering and a lot of this comes from David, the writer who had this stammer, when as a young child you lose the confidence that anyone wants to listen to you, you know. So you've got parents who aren't interested and you've got a nanny who loves your older brother and isn't interested. You lose confidence in your voice and you lose confidence in the right to speak and a lot of the therapy is about saying you have a right to be heard and people should bloody well listen.

DAVIES: Well that's the story. Let's talk about bringing it to life on film and I thought we'd listen to a clip here. The king is played by Colin Firth and the speech therapist, Lionel Logue, is played by Geoffrey Rush. And this is a moment where the - they've been working together for some period of time. George VI is now about to be crowned king and this is a moment where they have cleared out Westminster Abbey so that they can rehearse and this king can confront the task of making a few remarks upon the occasion of his coronation.

And they get into an argument and I'll just mention it makes it easier for the clip if we get to understand it we know that there's a point at which the therapist, Logue, has the effrontery to park his seat in the chair where monarchs sit and we'll hear that. And what really begins the argument is the king is frustrated and fearful and angry about this situation and he also has discovered that Lionel Logue is not a doctor and is essentially self-taught. Let's listen.

(Soundbite of film, "The King's Speech")

Mr. COLIN FIRTH (Actor): (as King George VI) No training, no diploma, no qualifications, a great deal of nerve.

Mr. GEOFFREY RUSH (Actor): (as Lionel Logue) Lock me in the Tower.

Mr. FIRTH: (as King George VI) I would if I could.

Mr. RUSH: (as Lionel Logue) On what charge?

Mr. FIRTH: (as King George VI) Fraud. With war looming, you've saddled this nation with a voiceless king. You've destroyed the happiness of my family all for the sake of ensnaring a star patient you couldn't possibly hope to assist. It'll be like mad King George III, only mad King George the Stammerer who let his people down so badly in their hour of need. What are you doing? Get up you can't sit there, get up.

Mr. RUSH: (as Lionel Logue) Why not? It's a chair.

Mr. FIRTH: (as King George VI) No that is not a chair, that is St. Edward's chair.

Mr. RUSH: (as Lionel Logue) People have carved their names on it.

Mr. FIRTH: (as King George VI) That chair is the seat on which every king...

Mr. RUSH: (as Lionel Logue) I don't care how many royal assholes sat in this chair.

Mr. FIRTH: (as King George VI) Listen to me, listen to me.

Mr. RUSH: (as Lionel Logue) Listen to you? By what right?

Mr. FIRTH: (as King George VI) By divine right if you must, I am your king.

Mr. RUSH: (as Lionel Logue) No you're not. You told me so yourself. You said you didnt want it. Why should I waste my time listening to you?

Mr. FIRTH: (as King George VI) Because I have a right to be heard. I have a voice.

Mr. RUSH: (as Lionel Logue) Yes, you do.

DAVIES: And that's Geoffrey Rush and Colin Firth from "The King's Speech" directed by our guest Tom Hooper. You can hear Colin Firth and his playing a royal with a stutter. He has to get this just right. He can't overdo it. Tell us about developing his character?

Mr. HOOPER: Well I think the inspiration for his performance for both of us was the real king. And we found this wonderful bit of archive footage on the Pathe News, which I think is available on the public site from the one...

DAVIES: The one in Glasgow?

Mr. HOOPER: Yeah, the Empire Exhibition, 1938 and, you know, try as the newsreel people can to cut away from Bertie so they cut from his close-up to, you know, spectators in the crowd. They cut to fluttering flags. They cut to chimney pots all around them. Whenever they come back in this profile close-up to the king you can see, you just can see in his eyes this longing. He just wants to get it right.

That's all he wants to achieve and he keeps getting caught in these horrible painful silences in which he drowns and he stops himself and gathers himself and tries again and gets caught and drowns in silence. And it's so, it's so moving that by the end of this three or four minute clip I had tears in my eyes. And Colin and I saw this and we were both hugely moved. And I'm not sure how aware Colin is, but I think he's kind of, in an extraordinary way, bottled the essence of the real king's stammer. And to me, you know, what it's closest to is, you know, if you think of all the references for stammering we thought about that's what it's closest to.

DAVIES: You know, it struck me that a stammer is almost like a physical metaphor for someone who hesitates at taking on a duty that seems too daunting, like being a wartime monarch in the United Kingdom. And the other thing that struck me was that what was so powerful about the performances was not the sound so much as the - what he's doing in those awful silences when between the sounds, when he's trying to get them out.

Mr. HOOPER: Yes and, you know, from what we understand about the mechanics of it, I mean, your throat really does lock up and so there's a, if you're a stammerer it doesn't, you know, the block, although it maybe starts psychologically it ends up physical. I mean there is no air passing in either direction down your throat when you're in mid block and so you're also lacking oxygen supply just to add to the woes.

And there's a couple of great profile shots in the film where you can see how much the musculature of Colin's neck is being sort of - is seizing up with this effort. And he actually started to complain of getting numbness in his left arm over the course of the shoot such was the physicality of playing this.

But, you know, he - what I think Colin understood brilliantly was that - a bit like, you know, the best way to play a drunk is to concentrate on trying to be sober. The best way of playing a stammerer is concentrate on trying to get out of the stammer rather than trying to get into the stammer. And I think Colin concentrated on the exit strategy and found the stammer through that.

DAVIES: Our guest is Tom Hooper, his new film is "The King's Speech". We'll talk more after a break. This is FRESH AIR.

(Soundbite of music)

DAVIES: If you're just joining us our guest is film director Tom Hooper. His new film starring Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush is "The King's Speech."

I wanted to talk about "John Adams," the HBO miniseries you directed which got a lot of awards and was - and drew a big audience. And it's interesting because, you know, you're bringing to life characters that Americans have idealized in a lot of ways, the founders. And I'm just wondering as a film maker when you have to bring to life Ben Franklin and John Adams and Thomas Jefferson do you need them - to make them in some way recognizable to us as these idealized figures or do you want to humanize them or is it some of both?

Mr. HOOPER: That's a very good question. I mean I struggled to see any of these characters as anything other than human. I mean King George VI, I've never had a problem thinking of him anything whether, you know, people go well, they're royal, how do you see him as human. I don't - I've never struggled with that. I think in the case of John Adams, I think there was a certain freedom that I wasn't - by not being brought up in America, not being taught the idealized version of the Founding Fathers, where they were these impossibly mythic, kind of superheroes on pedestals, perhaps I was more able to, to approach them as real characters.

I mean I love for example, this early thing I picked up from David McCullough's wonderful book that Thomas Jefferson just didn't speak in the Continental Congress. I mean he, you know, he was the silent one. He was the guy. He was the gnomic one who never contributed to debates, never opened his mouth and said very little which is so counter-intuitive because we think of him as the great wordsmith because he's famous for the Declaration of Independence.

And we also, you know, assume he is the, you know, a big iconic star, and of course through McCullough's book and research you learn that when the Continental Congress started he was very much the junior partner in the room, in particular to John Adams. And so one of the reasons he didn't say very much he was very junior and, you know, in fact was asked to write the Declaration of Independence partly because they, you know, John Adams thought it was too junior a task for him to do himself and he was too busy with what he felt was the main event which was winning the debate on the floor.

And of course, you know, Mr. Adams didnt realize, you know, the kind of status that document would have got because I'm sure he would have written it himself in retrospect. But, you know, it's those kind of way-ins which immediately you know, what's great about say that detail about Jefferson is because the general public don't know it.

You're immediately sort of wrong-footed because you're kind of going that's Jefferson, how intriguing. I didn't know he was so quiet and in that moment of realizing that you don't know a story that you thought you knew, suddenly the storytelling can become vividly present tense because you're no longer navigating it through people's existing cliches. You basically bust through them right at the beginning with the way you introduce the characters.

And it's terribly exciting when you do that for audiences because, you know, they basically start connecting in a completely different way.

DAVIES: Director Tom Hooper, his new film is "The King's Speech". He'll be back in the second half of the show. I'm Dave Davies and this is FRESH AIR.

(Soundbite of music)

DAVIES: This is FRESH AIR. Im Dave Davies filling in for Terry Gross.

Our guest is director Tom Hooper, who's new film "The King's Speech," tells the true story of King George VI stutter and his relationship with an unconventional speech therapist. I also asked him about directing the HBO miniseries "John Adams" and portraying the American Revolution.

You know, I read that you shot the American scenes, particularly the scenes during the Revolution, differently than those in Europe, such as when Adams was in Paris and England.

Mr. HOOPER: Yes. I chose to shoot the American material quite roughly. I mean it was almost exclusively handheld cameras. It was quite a lot of Dutch tilts where the camera is off the level, you know, so it's down on the left or down on the right. And more than that, there was no, there was often no consistency in the Dutch tilt, so I'd be cutting, you know, shots that were slightly off balance with shots that were on balance.

And I was interested to do this, because I was desperate to capture the sense that the story in front your eyes was, the creation of America, was relentlessly provisional. You know, because the hardest thing to do as a director when we're all sitting in America and American independence is a fact, is to create any sense that American independence was not a foregone conclusion. And actually, as a project when it started, was supremely unlikely to be achieved. I mean in fact, you know, when the war started it wasn't even a war - it wasn't a war about independence. It was a war about redressing rights and the notion of independence came quite late and was so radical that was, you know, it was so radical because it seemed so unlikely that it could be achieved.

DAVIES: So the handheld cameras and the odd angles kind of remind us that this was a risky and by - and very uncertain undertaking on the American side. Europe was different, right?

Mr. HOOPER: Yeah. And with Europe, I reverted to classical filmmaking, where the cameras dolly-mounted and, you know, the shots are level and the language of the film is classical. There's lots of nice wide shots intercut with the close-ups, whereas you - actually I kind of avoid a lot of classical wide shots in America so that you feel a sense of your back in the traditional world, in the ossified world of rules and classical rules and classic, you know, and classical governing structures, like the monarchy, that had been around for centuries.

DAVIES: I wanted to play a clip from the film, and it's one that's from the European part of it. And this is well into the story...

Mr. HOOPER: Okay.

DAVIES: ...when John Adams, the Revolution is over, America has gained its independence and John Adams has been chosen as the first American ambassador to England. And after being in London for while he has been granted an audience with King George III.

Mr. HOOPER: Oh, great.

DAVIES: And he has been carefully instructed in the protocol, that he is to enter the wrong, bow immediately, walk halfway to the throne, bow again, and as he approaches the throne, bow deeply again. And this is Adams humbly approaching the King, introducing himself, and then the King - King George, played by Tom Hollander - responds. So let's listen to it. Again, Adams speaking first.

(Soundbite of movie, "The King's Speech")

Mr. PAUL GIAMATTI (Actor): (John Adams) The United States of America have appointed me Minister Plenipotentiary to Your Majesty. I think myself more fortunate than all of my fellow citizens in having the - the distinguishing honor to be the first to stand in Your Majesty's presence in a diplomatic character.

Mr. TOM HOLLANDER (Actor): (as King George III) I will be very frank with you. I was the last to consent to separation. But the separation having been made and having become inevitable, I have always said, as I say now, that I would be the first to meet the friendship of the United States as an independent power. I pray, Mr. Adams, that the United States does not suffer unduly from its want of a monarchy.

Mr. GIAMATTI: (John Adams) Yes, we will, we will strive to answer those prayers, Your Majesty.

DAVIES: And that's Paul Giamatti and Tom Hollander in "John Adams," the miniseries directed by our guest, director Tom Hooper.

This is such an affecting scene, visually, too. Tell us a little bit about how you envisioned this first encounter between the British monarch and the new independent America.

Mr. HOOPER: You know, it's kind of like, John, you know, John Adams meeting the Darth Vader of our story. I mean, you know, this is the English monarch. This has been the enemy since the beginning. I mean the Declaration of Independence is a personal letter addressed to this monarch saying we've had enough. And, you know, he comes into this room and it's such a heavy process of preparation, that by the time you get to the door, you know, anyone would be out of their head with nerves. And walks in and finds this slight, rather sort of unexpected man standing by his throne, rather dwarfed by the heart of the throne, not sitting in it.

And, you know, it's immediate - what I wanted to try and create was immediately that the sense of bathos, where, how some human beings don't live up to their mythology. And King George III was a man who, in person, could not possibly be impressive as the machinery of monarchy would like to suggest he was. But then, having created that sense of sort of anticlimax for the viewer, I was intrigued that Adams was actually rather charmed and seduced by King George III. And when King George III says at the end, quite sincerely, I hope that America doesn't suffer from the want of a monarchy. I wanted to set in motion, in John's head, this question mark about whether or not America would suffer from the want of the monarchy.

DAVIES: Well, you know, that scene was powerful to me in, for a couple of reasons. One is you see John Adams coming in. It's his duty to represent his country and to establish a relationship with England. But he is clearly over-awed by the scale of the room and the throne.

Mr. HOOPER: Mmm. Right.

DAVIES: It's impressive and intimidating to see. But the other thing that I found fascinating was Tom Hollander's portrayal of King George III, because there is this incredible stillness about him.

Mr. HOOPER: Yeah.

DAVIES: And a look which I could only describe as otherworldly and - in his eyes. And it made me think this is somebody, a monarch, whose grown up from birth, believing he's different from all other human beings.

Mr. HOOPER: Mmm. I have to say, I think it is an absolutely extraordinary performance from Tom Hollander. I mean and what I particularly loved was Tom's decision. It was his idea, it was not my idea, that he would stand by the throne and not sit in it, so that when John Adams arrived you expect to have the cliche image of the king sitting on a throne and you don't get it. And Tom, I'm sure being conscious of his height, because he's not a hugely tall man, knew that it was going to present an odd image because the throne was going to dwarf him.

DAVIES: Tom Hooper talking about his miniseries "John Adams." His new film is "The King's Speech."

We'll talk more after a break.

This is FRESH AIR.

(Soundbite of music)

DAVIES: If youre just joining us, our guest is film director Tom Hooper. He's directed "The King's Speech," starring Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush. It's about the struggles of English King George VI with a stammer, and his relationship with a speech therapist.

Well, I wanted to talk, just a bit, about "The Damned United," which is a film released last year, which I missed completely. I guess it had limited release in the states, but was just great, great fun. It's about a soccer coach in England in the '60s and '70s, or I guess a football manager, as he would be called.

Mr. HOOPER: Yeah.

DAVIES: Tell just a little bit about the story and what got your interest.

Mr. HOOPER: Well, Brian Clough, who's the hero of this film, is the most iconic football manager, soccer manager, in English history. And he was an extraordinary outspoken maverick who was the star who burnt incredibly brightly. And he was unusual in that he was so charismatic and popular that he crossed over into popular entertainment culture. And he was kind of the person who first road the wave of when the complex matrix of sport, big finance and celebrity culture began to intersect to remake the game for the modern world. And my film is really a story of hubris.

Our thesis in the film was that Brian Clough's success was really made possible through a great working partnership and friendship with his assistant manager -a man called Peter Taylor. But Clough, being a complete egomaniac, starts to believe or want to believe that his brilliance is all his own and cuts himself loose from his - from Peter Taylor to take on managing this team called Leeds United, which was really his nemesis, you know, growing up.

DAVIES: Well, you know, I thought we should get a scene here where the main character, Brian Clough, who as you said, is this rising star in soccer has been chosen to coach at Leeds United. And he is played by Michael Sheen, who people will remember from - he played Tony Blair in the film "The Queen." He also played David Frost in "Frost/Nixon." But this is a moment at which he's sitting down with the owners of Leeds United club. And part of the story here, is that he has an intense rivalry with a much more famous soccer coach named Don Revie, who had previously coached Leeds. And so in this moment, the new owners are unhappy about their new coach. And so we hear a little exchange. The owner, played by Henry Goodman, will speak first.

(Soundbite of movie, "The Damned United")

Mr. HENRY GOODMAN (Actor): (as Manny Cussins) I hired you to do this job because I think you are the best young manager in this country.

Mr. MICHAEL SHEEN (Actor): (as Brian Clough) Thank you. I'm the best old one too.

Mr. GOODMAN: (as Manny Cussins) I also did it under the assumption that you would be coming here wanting the best for this club, for the city of Leeds. So why do I get the feeling this is all about you and Don?

Mr. SHEEN: (as Brian Clough) Of course, it's just about me and Don, always has been. But instead of putting frowns on your foreheads or yell to the Leeds in your blazers and your brass (bleep) buttons, you should put big wide Colgate smiles on your big wide faces, because it means I won't eat, I won't sleep until I've taken what ever that man's achieved and beaten it. Beaten it so that I never have to hear the word Don (bleep) Revie again. Beat it, so the only name anyone sings in the (unintelligible) of houses raised in the stinking jaws to the stinking mouths, is Brian Clough. Brian Clough over (bleep) palace(ph). Understand?

DAVIES: And that is hubris indeed, isn't it?

(Soundbite of laughter)

DAVIES: Michael Sheen playing Brian Clough in the film "The Damned United" directed by our guest Tom Hooper.

You know, a lot of your films, of course, deal with history, "John Adams" and the current one, "The King's Speech." And this is in a way a kind of a trip back to a different era of sport. I mean these soccer stadiums are pretty decrepit and shabby. Is this something that you remember fondly and had fun recreating?

Mr. HOOPER: Yeah. I mean I was interested in putting on screen a kind of forgotten football in Britain, before this incredible influx of money, partly coming through you know Murdoch's Sky Television, which bought up football rights and transformed it forever. Before it came in, when, you know, the football grounds were falling apart and it was a working-class game. It was not - it hadn't become transformed(ph). It hadn't become, you know, celebrated by the middle classes. And the players made, you know, a little money as the fans.

DAVIES: I read that you, for the crowd shots you used inflatable people among of the audience.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. HOOPER: It's true. Yes. Not only that, the same inflatable people also feature in "The King's Speech." And not only that, I had the bizarre experience of having filmed at Leeds United Elland Road Stadium on "The Damned United," filled with 2,000 dummies. Who knew that only a year later I'd be back in the same stadium, Elland Road in Leeds, re-creating Wembley Stadium in 1925 with Colin Firth with the same, exactly the same 2,000 inflatable dummies for companionship?

DAVIES: And why that in a world of, you know, CGI and computerized graphic?

Mr. HOOPER: Because the cost of CGI is immense. I mean, you know, we keep being told that we live in this new world where this revolution's happened. The truth is the cost per shot of visual effects is beyond the kind of budgets that the films, you know, I tend to make. And that I actually got the idea from Ron Howard, who I found out had used I think up to 40,000 of these dummies in scenes and used them also in "Frost/Nixon" in the dining scene. And the joy is that once you've paid for them you can do any number of shots and they fill out, you know, the stadium and the background. You don't need to worry. Whereas, if you don't have them, every single time you see any part of the stadium you need to, it becomes a visual effects shot. So it was a very - it was one of the best decisions I took to invest in my 2,000 dummies.

DAVIES: So do you have a garage somewhere with thousands of deflated dummies?

Mr. HOOPER: They're not actually my own, you'll be pleased to hear.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. HOOPER: I believe my psychology is in good shape in that respect.

DAVIES: Well, Tom Hooper, it's been fun. Thanks so much for speaking with us.

Mr. HOOPER: Thank you very much.

DAVIES: Tom Hooper's new film is "The King's Speech."

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