Hugo Vickers: Madonna dévoile un portrait compatissant de Wallis Simpson.
Madonna unveils a sympathetic portrait of Wallis Simpson
Andrea Riseborough captures the humanity of the late Wallis, Duchess of Windsor, says Hugo Vickers
by Tim Walker 8:45AM BST 11 Apr 2011
After she was turned into a hate figure in the film The King's Speech and Any Human Heart, the television adaptation of William Boyd's novel, the late Wallis, Duchess of Windsor, will receive at least a measure of sympathy when Andrea Riseborough portrays her in Madonna's forthcoming film, W.E.
"It is a kinder, gentler portrayal," says Hugo Vickers, the author of Behind Closed Doors, a new biography of the Duchess, who acted as the film's historical adviser. "It is silly to portray her as a baddie. If there was anyone who was a baddie it was Edward VIII."
The author also worked as a consultant on The King's Speech in which he felt that Wallis – played by Eve Best – was turned into "too gauche" a character. "Obviously, as an adviser, I can only make sure these films are as historically accurate as possible and I have no say in the dramatic content," says Vickers. "I think Andrea Riseborough captures the character very well, however. She makes her human."
Madonna, who is the director and co-writer of the film, has presented a two-tiered romantic drama focusing on Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson and a contemporary romance between a married woman and a Russian security guard.
The film is likely to please Edward Fox. The actor, who appeared in the television series Edward & Mrs Simpson, told me just before Christmas that he had spoken to a lot of people who knew Wallis. "They told me she was fun, hospitable and welcoming," he said. "Sadly, we live in harsher times today than when we made that series. We seem to have an insatiable appetite for figures that we can hate."
Madonna, by the way, goes back a long way with Vickers. It was he who advised her to purchase, with her former husband Guy Ritchie, Ashcombe House in Wiltshire, the former home of Cecil Beaton, when it came up for sale in 2001.
Madonna is the director and co-writer of W.E.
Photo: Matt Baron/BEI/Rex Features.