King Leopold Completes A Royal Tour Of Duty For Alex Jennings
Uh-huh. I'm Jay sleigh Cobb. And you're listening to masterpiece studio king Leopold of Belgium has been the pied piper of Royal romance. Masterpieces Victoria, shrewdly matching his nephew Prince Albert with the young Queen, Victoria, his niece nomally is the man who must declare his love. But in your case, you would have to overcome you'll mid and stay and proposed to Albert or not. No. But the duet yesterday was so charming. I'm sorry. Alba tonight not suit he has no manners. But Leopold could also be Albert's. Father a rather oily prospect that left Prince Albert reeling in the wake of the revelation last season. Just lost my beloved Charlotte, and your father left hold on here with your brother. And so we comforted one another. Comforted actor Alex Jennings is no stranger to royalty having played Prince Charles in the critically acclaimed film. The Queen King George the third and the Duke of Windsor net. Flicks is the crown but king Leopold offered a different type of Royal. I've done lots of historical characters, which is fun to do. But brings it so kind of issues as well because you're never going to be everybody's idea of Prince Charles. Oh, somebody's going to go to Rome is quite a responsibility. Sometimes you feel that you shouldn't judge these people in a way Jennings joins us to talk Leopold the fallout with his beloved Albert and why he always seems to be cast as crowned noble afterwards, Victoria, creator, head writer and executive producer. Daisy Goodwin joins us for another round of fact or fiction. This week. We are joined by Victoria, star Alex Jennings. Welcome. Thank you for having me in one of daisy Goodwin. Scripts for season. One Victoria Leopold is described thusly Leopold, his evidently vain and self regarding his trousers are too tight in another. He's quote, loathesome -ly emolient. What were your first impressions of Leopold when you initially registered for season one? Well, I did a bit of background reading about the real Leopold. And that only gets you so far really when of your playing historical figure, I li- as descriptions that gave me something to go on and indeed the trousers whoever very tight. I like the fact that you get a bit of the the intelligent manipulator the guy who sort of was connecting. Ooh, manner of obscure European Royal families and members together primarily album, Victoria. Of course, I had some fun with that. I think that of a German accent thing, that's what it was. My wife said when I was practicing at home, why are you playing it like Boris Becker? There was a little bit of sort of mid Atlantic going on. I mean, I will say he remains one of my favorite characters on Victoria. And he's always ready with a perfectly turned phrase or an eyebrow raising insinuation. How do you see the characters having changed since those early days in season one? I guess it away. It's become a little. A little more serious. I think in season two when those the whole plot suggestion that he might be Albert's father. Annoy, his uncle there's some historical gossip about that. He was in the right place at the right time to have possibly been Abbas farther. But it's no more than conjecture, really. But we ran with it. And it meant that I had some good sort of dramatic emotional stuff with Alba, which was good to not just be the eyebrow. Raising slightly saw tonic lightweight Leopold. I guess do you see him as more of a kingmaker or a puppet master? He was both those things in reality and was very influential very influential and very close to Victoria, historically, which he doesn't necessarily see in the series, but they corresponded a lot, and he was very important sort of. Are the figure and influence in her life and was genuinely very fond of them both. I think and saw the opportunity to fix a marriage that. Was good wjm good for them. And they and it happened to be a great love match. I think as well Leopold's relationship with Victoria is fascinating to watch. Especially the rather unexpectedly touching moments between the two develop such as the marron glace seen in season one. What was it like filming this particular moment booth genyk Coleman? One of the great joys of it. And the fun of it was was the relationship with Jenner and how she could be quite sort of snap his with Leopold in that he was interfering too much. And and that little sort of grit in their relationship was was great fun to play the ghost of the doomed Charlotte hovers over that scene. Glad to see you have an appetite Victoria, must be strong for what lies ahead, Charlotte. Used to like sweets to. But doctors would not let them metal saw an happy either so much now that I had given her all the Maryland glassy that she wanted you and Al. You remind me so much. How much of Leopold's character is informed by the loss of Charlotte. And indeed of the monarchy he so desperately craved. I think especially in series one the loss of Charlotte is very sort of at the front and that sort of that. Diminishes as season two goes on. And he moved on. He had an affair with German. Actress see them married again and had children. But it's very it's quite roar. I think in season one, and he's quite Mellon claim wistful about what might have been his about happy to be the main sort of Acilitator of the relationship between the Toronto. But and it's something I have always wondered about him is whether his belief that he was Aubert's biological father. Did it Dr him even more to make that marital match with Victoria was he securing a dynasty in that way. Yes. I think he was I think he was absolutely doing that. And our it was his his favorite nephew possibly, son. And he he felt I guess that. He would. His influence would would be. Would continue on. So I suppose on on a on a large European stage. One of my favorite Leopold moments is in the second season. When Albert finds out that Leopold might be his father, it culminates in a big fight complete with armor. I'm so proud if you add two now, the to our father, you must understand my feeling stunned. Understand. Maybe. Sham. Entire life alive, Victoria, married to a busted. But you rigid. Everything. Pels for the monarchy amounted to share punk rec- because of you. What was it? Like filming this confrontation with with Tom Hughes? It was re Tolman. I I'll friends we've worked together several times before. So that's always good. When you when you have a trust with somebody playing with. Which we certainly do and we felt very kind of free with it. And it was filmed in a very very free way. We went sort of glued down by two specific blocking for the same. We were able to be quite quite free with it. It was really exciting. Actually, it was exciting to film and also in a completely believable stately home in Yorkshire that stood in for. Leopold's Schloss, and that always when you're doing these historical series, the the work of the designers or the fact that you'll fill me in one of our many, many stately homes helps your imagination a lot. But it was really exciting. Exciting meaty seen to play and what that did to our relationship in future scenes as well. But it played out quite nicely. I think through the next few episodes that it had big repercussions in Albert's particularly of him learning. How to accept this this possibility that Leopold was might be his father, and our relationship was given time to develop into to find each other again, I guess I mean, it is a heartbreaking moment for both. These men considering their closeness we see more. How it plays out for Albert? But how does this moment? Do you think play out internally within Leopold? I think he misjudges the effect is going to have. I think he thinks it is possibly going to. Bring them closer. And it doesn't quite do that because album finds it very hard to to accept it. And you know, what's he going to do with that information? It could never go public. And historically as said, it is it's conjecture on the part of some historians and other historians reject is possibility as well in this week's episode Leopold returns to Buckingham Palace after leaving Belgium due to unraced. There's a beautiful moment in this episode between Leopold and Albert the is still so much to. That this country would go the same way as fronts, but it seems that the English they may crumble, but they do not come to the boil. It is the weather. I think it is hard to lead revolution in the rain. I am. So proud of you Albert. Cotija have they finally reached a reproche mall? Yes. I think they absolutely have and Albert is a bull to accept advice in how he deals with Edward his son. So the son and heir because the difficulty in a in that relationship and how they going to manage the slightly world child. I mean, looking at early Leopold is is able to say the words he's wanted to say to Albert he is your son. He will not disappoint. How difficult is it for Leopold to to broach that subject openly and say what he wants to say here. What's that that the actual subtext in the scene? Well, I think he he's he's obviously saying light. You haven't disappointed me? They have that bond. The bond has been repaired. By that point, the big set piece in this episode is the gorgeous -ly elaborate Georgian ball that Victoria throws a how much fun was this to to film. You know, it was really good fun in the end broken up rehearsals for the dancing, the kind of Korda Bala. They did a lot of a lot of rehearsal, and we generate all myself and others of the kind of principal actors. They grabbed us when we went shooting other stuff. Yes. But we got it together. Actually, and your it's it's interesting so filming dances. Because of course, you I the whole piece, but then when you're filming it it's broken up into twenty segments starring actually doing it again. And again, and again, and again, but it was it was fun to do was there actually music on the set or were you dancing to sort of nothingness? Sometimes it was music label. Then cut it, and you would sometimes have a air pieces secreted on beneath you'll wig too. Trying vaguely keep in time with what you meant to be doing before this next question. A brief word from our sponsors. Saint Petersburg's Hermitage Moscow's Red Square. Golden ring towns Viking dedicated to bringing travelers closer to the real Russia along the waterways of the SARS offering a small ship experience with short excursion included in every port. Discover more at Viking cruises dot com slash drama. Looking to relive the first two seasons of masterpieces, Victoria, get caught up with PBS passport member benefit from your local PBS station to learn more. Visit PBS dot org slash get passport. Leopold remarks about the gathering of the happy Coburg trio. I mean court at the Georgian ball does Leopold truly not recognized fidora or is he deliberately snubbing her. I think he's I think he's a little vague about who she is. He hasn't seen for very long time. But he also is aware of what a manipulator. She is and wants to kind of keep her in place and what Strange's throughout the season. I had a theory that Feodor was an imposter one by Leopold, not recognizing her. What was your take on that moment specifically as it just Leopold being Leopold? I think it's Leopold being Leopold and being a little bit wicked and a little bit vague. And you're not wanting to give her any status. Really really good fun working with Kate Fleetwood. We laughed a lot when we were meant to be. I mean Leopold Winfield confronts him about backing the heir to the throne rather than her Leopold says it was long ago and her response is not for me. Does he see her enduring sense of pain at all here? Does he feel it? No. I don't think he does feel it because I think he he views her as a as a municipal later on a thorn in the side, Victoria. I think. Victoria, certainly believes that Feodor is out for revenge to really center way. So she wouldn't marry George my late father in law like nothing better than to comment. His brothers with the notion that he could still produce an air and your door was just a pawn in that game. You knew she blames me. She wants to have her revenge venture. Oh, you exaggerate, Victoria. What could a panelist German Princess possibly due to hurt the Queen of England. But the fact remains that she could do quite a lot of damage actually does he see her at all as a threat or is. She just a secondary thought. I think he sort of sees a more of a more of an Ericsson truly she's not gonna do that much damage. I mean, he has very specific views on monarchy that it ought to be shrouded in mystery, not paraded as a what he says public spectacle. Is this an old school philosophy that he's espousing here? One in keeping with the notion of the divine right of kings. Yes. I think I think he absolutely fails that it should be. Kept behind kept behind closed doors on there should be mystery to it. I think he absolutely does and interest because I'm also in the crown as you probably know. Similar similar seems redressed in that as well. But I guess Victoria, was one of the first that was opening things up, but Pryatta, her the monarchy had been treated like. As fodder for satirists. Some were they were really taken apart in newspapers and journals and cartoons of Georgian England. They were much more robustly traduced, treat untreated, generally than they were in Victorian times, the sort of the the the majesty the mystery of the monarchy kinda came back in a way, I think and Victoria in some ways was was protected from all of that. Do you have a favorite scene from these last three seasons, Victoria? That work the the big scene with Tom the big the big fight with Thome was really. Fun and rewarding to do. And some of the some of the big set pieces the bull scenes, which can be quite laborious to film, but at say working working on this and at the same time, I was fooling sometimes I was going from Buckingham Palace in eighteen forty two whenever it was in the next day IBM Buckingham Palace in nineteen fifty three down in London a minute was it was a very happy time. And I was juggling. The the first the crown with the first series of Victoria, which was a very nice position to be in Michael house who's production designer who died are sadly last year. Did absolute wonders I think the the world he created for us to plan was quite extraordinary in his imagination and how he could decorate the palace. He went to local kind of some cheap sort of cheap stores would buy kids. Sets of Armagh little plastic gold, dressing up armor and think right. We can use those an AB cheapest chips, and he within spray them gold, and they will be decorating parts of the palace. It was just brilliant the work. He did on the toria really on the set that we filmed in up in your show was monumental and kind of the imaginative workforce in a way, he was a he was a kind of genius Mike wows and throughout your career. You've played several Royal personages including old, but Prince Charles in the Queen king. George third Edward the eighth K David Duke of Windsor. I in the crown why do you think you're so often cast as royalty? I really don't know why why I'm cost royalty. Because I'm a I'm a kind of common boy from Essex, which is sort of east of London people who don't know. I don't know ready. I don't know I've done quite a lot on stage and on film of real people as it were dump. I did Benjamin Britten Alan Bennett the national play George Bush in David hare play at the national. I've done lots of historical characters, which is fun to do. But brings it so kind of issues as well. Because you're not you're never going to be. Everybody's idea of Prince Charles or somebody's going to go to Rome. But you imagine imaginatively have to try and take a leap something having done wheel research, and then sort of absorb it. And then kind of let go let go of it and give your version of the window. Prince Charles squad, a responsibility. Sometimes you feel that you shouldn't judge these people in a way. Mean after playing after playing Charles in the Queen you you've run into the prince of Wales since did he say anything to you about your performance? No, he's never he's looked at me with a bit of a sort of twinkle in his eye of I know what you've been doing. But he's never he's never actually he's never actually said anything to me now. I'm often haunted by your performances your Duke of Windsor in the crown. I think is extrordinary what was your spurious like on that series? It was one of the happiest jobs I've ever done. It was an I became completely obsessed with the and duchess of Windsor and read every book watched what little there was on available of footage. What kinds of kind of pathway news footage is of of how he was physically I'm much bigger than much taller than he was. But I became totally sort of obsessed with the story and just loved playing him. He also will fantastic close. So that was that was good too. And. The choices. He made his foolishness his naive t the fact that he that he then sort of floated through the rest of his life. Without any real purpose that there was a sort of Shakespearian in. Tragically sort of nature to to his life. Really that I found fascinating. The actors in the crown were replaced with older actors for the third yesterday were what are your feelings about that? It was there was some debates one point that Lee Williams who played the duchess and myself might sneak through because we were sort of peripheral royals and that we might get through in season three. But I completely understand that they they wanted a clean sweep unto up aegis. Oh, I completely get that. I was sad. Not to to do his his complete story. I would have liked that. Because there was a wonderful description of his final meeting with the Queen ten days before he died, and I would like to let with played that. But there will. Will you had been open to to getting aged up with some a lot of makeup totally and possibly not not much makeup. Yeah. It's been really good. It's been an and it was a wonderful thing that both the production of Victoria, and the producers of the crown in neighborhood me to to play Leopold, and and gca Windsor, and that they were up for sort of helping to finesse a make it possible for me to do both very lucky. Alex jennings. Thank you. So very much. Thank you. And we are back with daisy Goodwin. Welcome. Hi. As Britain moves towards a decimal currency. New coin is introduced worth a tenth of a pound called the Florin. Is it true that the name of the coin the Florin is offered by Leopold? No. But he could easily have done. I think it was just a it was just a name that came into. Came in that that that sounded right? It was a medieval I mean, they were Florence on the continent. So it's a sort of it's kind of international name for coin. The design for the so-called. Godless Florin has Victoria throwing off convention by wearing a crown and without the traditional inscription. But by the grace of God was this a shock to the British public and even to Victoria herself. Well, high wearing the crown that was her idea, but the the the the lack of inscription that was Alba's fooled. It was meant to be, but Al but left it off. And that was something that absolutely enraged, Victoria. Factor fiction. Queen Victoria's private drawings of domestic life at the palace ended up in the papers. They didn't end up in the papers. But they were they were sold. You know, they were sold as prints by the print mica. So they did people they were seen by people women women to have seen them. So they were you know, it was a huge scandal. At the time. I'm Victoria now. But were you know, felt horrified by this? What was the relationship between Feodor Leopold in real life, given that they lived so closely to one another did she blame him for being the puppet master that cost her the throne? I think she probably did. Yes. I mean, they they didn't seem jumping very often poof into was completed elected bonus in the family 'cause she had night power money. Nice status factor. Fiction did Albert believe in phonology and did Victorian Albert have their children's heads examined by George coom. That is completely true. They were. They did leave in for Jan they really thought that phonology would help explain my birdie was say backward in comparison to his older sister factor fiction. Did Victoria thrown elaborate Georgian costumed christening ball after Arthur's birth. She did throw an elaborate Georgian bul in the fashions of a hundred years ago. I didn't even it was actually after the christening. But it was it certainly happened around that time, and it's just an extraordinary event. And I think they mazing costumes. That's wonderful pictures from the real that you can you can look online does Victoria name Arthur after the Duke of Wellington, Arthur Wellesley. Yes, she does. Yes. She does that was that was completely true Victorian Albert's row heats up to a new level in this episode with Victoria going so far as to smash a bust and even slap Albert across the face after he. Says that her quote character is over developed in the area of self esteem. Did their marriage reach a low point like this in real life. How bad things get for them. I think it did. I mean, again, you know, it's home to to it's very hard to get fucked to get the FOX onless because you know, it's not something, Victoria rights above. But one of the things she does do whenever she's had arrived with all, but she wants to darling Girling. I love him say much my angel. And I think that's because she knows that he reads Dari. So she's trying to apologize behavior. I think that's definitely is sense at this time in their marriage that Albert is trying to control her and she doesn't want to be controlled. And you can see in the gaps in the children that there is a physical distance between them the haven't been previously. Daisy goodwin. Thank you. So very, much pleasure. Her serene highness Feodor has been a prickly outsider this season of Victoria scheming against her strange. Half sister, the Queen while the kingdom seeds with rebellion and unrealized reform. She feels and critically haunt them by she missed out on being Queen. She could have married the King, George and she was sent packed off. By the mutual mother because the mother wanted Victoria to be Queen as huge amount of built up resentment next week on the podcast, actor Kate Fleetwood joins us to discuss how it felt to play the severe and sour Princess Feodor. Masterpiece studio is hosted by me jas lake hob and produced by Nick Anderson, at least by e to is our editor Suzanne Simpson is our executive producer, the executive producer of masterpiece is Rebecca Eaton. 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