Alphabetical Movie – The Madness of King George
I don’t know if anyone has kept an official tally but it sure does seem to me like the best way to earn an Oscar nomination is to play an English monarch. Helen Mirren has an Oscar for playing Queen Elizabeth II. Judi Dench has one for playing Queen Elizabeth I. Dench was also nominated for playing Queen Victoria. Cate Blanchett was nominated for playing Elizabeth I twice.
That’s just the queens. When it comes to the Kings, things get completely ridiculous. Not too many wins. Colin Firth has one for The King’s Speech, Charles Laughton for The Private Life of King Henry VIII, and Laurence Olivier got an honorary one for Henry V but when it comes to nominations, seems like almost every king of England is Represented.
Nigel Hawthorne was nominated as George III in The Madness of King George. Both Olivier and Kenneth Branaugh were nominated for Henry V. Peter O’Toole was nominated for playing King Henry II in two different films! Robert Shaw was also nominated for playing Henry VIII but he probably lost that award due to stupid Oscar politics. Henry VIII already had an Oscar.
Fucking Charles Laughton.
Olivier was nominated for Richard III.
Oooo! Richard Dreyfuss won for The Goodbye Girl and he was in a production of “Richard III” in that movie. I’m going to count that one!
I mean, you can get nominated for playing a lot of other roles but a head of state in England just might be the ticket, baby!
Maybe it just feels that way because when it comes to historical drama, political leaders are well represented. If you make an American film, you wouldn’t be surprised to see it feature a President (and boy o boy have a lot of folks been nominated for playing Presidents). If the film is set in England, a monarch just might show up.
Playing a monarch is usually a pretty juicy role so that ups your chances to be nominated. Henry II was a historical character just made for chewing scenery. Richard II, on the other hand, wasn’t all that exciting.
There are a whole lot of Georges who just weren’t all that sexy, either. None of the Charles kings (kings Charles?) get any love either.
Also interesting to me, people have been nominated for playing fictional Presidents but nobody gets a nomination for playing a fictional King or Queen of England. I have to speculate that it just isn’t proper to create a fake head of England.
I also wonder if the reason so many people are nominated for playing historical figures is because we know enough about them to really put some life into the character. We also know about them to know when someone does them well.
When you play a character that doesn’t exist, people only have your own word for the fact that you managed to get it right. If you play Richard III, folks have all sorts of evidence to work with.
OK, that’s a bad example. For Richard III, you have only a play written by someone looking to gain favor with a monarch whose father had killed Richard III.
I’m not sure if I’ll ever be nominated for an Oscar. I’m betting no. If I’m going to have a chance, though, I think I’d better play a President. My British accent is only so-so.