On Friday, September 28th, Joe Alwyn, Nicholas Hoult, Emma Stone, and Olivia Colman sat down with director Yorgos Lanthimos and writer Tony McNamara to discuss their upcoming film, “The Favourite” at The New York Film Festival. The film opened the festival.
The 18th century based film, stars Colman as an aging Queen Anne and Stone as Abigail, a young servant. The film also recently received the Grand Jury Prize and the Volpi Cup for Best Actress for Colman’s performance at the 75th Venice International Film Festival.
While the time period may imply an incredibly serious film, Lanthimos promised expectant audience members that they would find moments to laugh.
“I think humor in general is something that I can’t get away from no matter what the material is,” he said.
The title, The Favourite is quite indicative of the thematic element in the film – the perception of royalty as favorites and those who are favored.
McNamara emphasized this point: “It’s a battle to be ‘the favorite’ and a battle to be [our] favorite. The idea of all these people subject to trying to be the favorite, trying to be in favor and even Anne trying to find someone she’s the favorite of, it just seemed like an interesting dynamic to us as a film and really complicated.”
Critics in the audience gushed at about the minute details of the film, most notably: Queen Anne’s cherished pet rabbits. Instead of using computer graphics for the animals, the producers and directors made the decision to have the live animals.
“It was lovely. Emma and I are both mad animal lovers so we had a lovely time,” said Colman. “We barely remembered our lines on a day there wasn’t a rabbit there.”
Lanthimos agreed, “I was surprised but it was fairly simple to keep [the rabbits] in place most of the time. The only thing we had to do was just to restrict where they were because they were huge rooms. They seemed to enjoy themselves hanging out and it fell into place.”
Another key characteristic of the film is the abundance of wide-angle shots, a style that Lanthimos has been developing for years.
“Especially on this film, we went even more extreme [with the wide angles] because we felt that in a certain way it kind of visually represented a lot of the themes of the film, the lone human figures within those huge spaces, the fact that so few people actually affect a much vaster world,” he explained.
In a unique sense, the actors were also aware of the lenses used as well, keenly aware of their portrayal on screen.
“I love being obnoxious on set and figuring out what lenses they’re using,” said Stone. “So I knew what lenses were used throughout the movie. It was fun with the music and the chapters – it was just fascinating.”
The Favourite will be in theaters on November 23rd.