When producer Kris Thykier boarded Madonna’s “W.E.” in the spring of 2010 he treated the movie like any other production: deliver the director’s vision while making something commercial.
“There was no profligacy here,” said Thykier. “We knew what we felt the movie should cost in terms of market opportunity and then matching Madonna’s ambition for the movie with that budget was a challenge.”
Ambitious it was. The $15 million pic is her second as a director and was financed by the singer with the U.K. tax credit. It’s structured as a parallel love story that sees a contemporary divorcee become consumed by the love affair of Wallis Simpson and King Edward VIII.
Two interwoven stories spanning five decades and shot at 100 locations in three countries is the sort of structure that trips up even very experienced directors — especially when two of the four main subjects are as iconic as Wallis and Edward.
“Wallis was a fashion icon and therefore the costume and jewelry aspects of it were significant,” Thykier said. “They lived in a hugely opulent, aristocratic world and with the sets and costumes needed, it meant we had to deliver the goods.”
That meant nabbing the right cast, which includes Andrea Riseborough as Wallis and Abby Cornish as her modern day counterpart Wally, and getting a crew that could bring those details to the screen.
Step in costume designer Arianne Phillips (“Knight and Day”), hair and makeup designer Jenny Shircore (“The Young Victoria”) and production designer Martin Childs (“Shakespeare in Love”).
“Madonna had a very clear idea of the world she wanted to create,” said Thykier. “But what was impressive was her wish and ease with which she wanted to collaborate with the best possible people.”
Thykier stresses that the movie is very much a fictionalized view of the Duke and Duchess’ romance and life together but is “backed by enormous historical research.”
“What we wanted to get to was a truth about them and a truth about their world without necessarily trying to create a biopic.”
Thykier hopes auds will judge the film on its own merits, rather than as a Madonna product.
“When an iconic, global entity is involved it will be interesting to see how people react to that and whether people can judge the film without their own baggage or how they’ve felt about Madonna for 30 years.”
Pop icon Madonna will present the 2011 Gucci Award for Women in Cinema during a ceremony and private dinner to be hosted by Gucci Creative Director Frida Giannini on Friday on the sidelines of the 68th Venice International Film Festival.
The award will honour outstanding artistic achievement by women filmmakers and the nominees span a range of disciplines including direction, production and cinematography.
This year’s nominees are actress Jessica Chastain, for her work in The Tree of Life; Caroline Champetier, the director of photography of Of Gods and Men; Federica Pontremoli, screenwriter for Habemus Papam; Nansun Shi, producer of Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame and Athina Tsangari, the director and producer of Attenberg.
The jury, led by Giannini, will select the final recipient.
Madonna will also be in Venice to unveil her debut directorial venture W.E, a multi-layered romantic drama about the affair between King Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson and the modern relationship between a Russian security guard and a married woman.
Top 100 most sought after out-of-print books in 2011
1. Madonna, Sex
2. Nora Roberts, Promise Me Tomorrow
3. Stephen King (as Richard Bachman), Rage
4. Stephen King, My Pretty Pony
5. Ray Garton, In a Dark Place: The Story of a True Haunting
6. Luigi Serafini, Codex Seraphinianus
7. Johnny Cash, Man in Black
8. Norman Mailer, Marilyn: A Biography
9. H. Henry Thomas, Arithmetic Progress Papers
10. Kyle Onstott, Mandingo
While we were supposed to announce and ship the 2010 gift back in December, the actual gift development took longer than expected. Sorry to keep you all waiting, fellow friends, but we made good use of this extra time. We secured a gift for Madonna’s loyal Iconers that no one else on earth will ever get… Today, we are proud to announce that, if you were an active Platinum member of Icon in 2010 or renewed your membership at some point last year, you will be receiving a limited edition 12″ vinyl single of the previously unreleased Madonna track, “Broken”!!!
The song, written by Madonna and Paul Oakenfold during the “Celebration” recording sessions, has never seen the light of day as an official Madonna release, and only 2010 Icon members will be mailed their copy of this rare collector’s item! Packaged in a special gatefold jacket cover, the 180g colored 12″ vinyl single will include an exclusive artwork and inner sleeve. Good things come to those who wait, right? :-) The exact shipping date will be announced later on; so, stay tuned to Madonna.com for announcements!
And at one point, you were going to be in the Madonna-directed W.E.?
Yes. Madonna and I had met several times. We wanted to embark on that working relationship, and then I got knocked up! My expanding waistline was not gonna cut it. But it was nice to shoot the shit with Madonna.