The Anglophile Channel is planning a trip to cover the coronation of King Charles III. Because I am an American, and viewing the coronation as an outsider looking in, I hope you will forgive me for confessing I have some very mixed feelings and am pondering many questions. But, as my misgivings will not affect King Charles in any way whatsoever, sharing them might open up a discussion. Please know, that in these observations, no disrespect is intended. I do believe strongly in a representative government, but I also understand, after living in England, that the monarchy is a part of the fabric of Britain. Loved or hated, the monarchy is always there as an indelible part of its history and foreseeable future. Some of my British friends are great supporters of the monarchy, others wish it could be dismantled immediately. I listen to them all with respect. The concept of why a nation would want a figurehead, a role bestowed by birth and not by merit, suitability, or even desire, is something many an American might struggle to understand, not historically, but where it fits into the modern world.
It will be exciting, as to be in Britain for the coronation is an opportunity to bear witness to history. Because there is a lot of Shakespeare on my resume, I have immersed myself in British history. That’s not unusual. Many actors read up on what is true, what was dramatic license, and what was pure invention as a part of our research when preparing for these historically based roles. This research developed a craving that led me from one book to the next! Shakespeare was a man of strong opinions about the monarchs and surrounding characters as well as an intuitive writer who knew what might please the most powerful in the realm who were to be in his audience. He portrayed the British monarchs as human, imperfect, forging their own legacy through a combination of not only chance and opportunity, but talent, wisdom, conscience, bravery, compassion, or, for some, the glaring lack of these traits. They are flawed characters, blessed or cursed by the circumstances of their birth, destined to inhabit the Crown. It is an inherent cruelty in the institution of any monarchy that a familial death leads to the next monarch’s ascension. Grief and loss hang heavy in the air even as the next monarch is proclaimed. There is continuity but also emotional complexity for all involved. It is also the time when life-altering vows and decisions are being made…and fascinating to watch. The modern monarch steps up to duty, despite everything, to a life of unimaginable privilege but constantly in the spotlight with little power.
This perspective makes it interesting to see a man whose past has been scrutinized and judged by the world to take up his place upon the throne. I understand better why the British monarchy remained intensely private for so long. As with any sort of celebrity, when the public learns too much about human frailties, the luster vanishes. I wonder if this will be a fresh start? Will King Charles erase or soften the past of Prince Charles? Most of the world understands what it is to have a messy family life, but most of the world lives with the consequences of their choices in a very different way. Our private lives are not parsed by the world, but then again, neither are we taking vows of duty to the realm or to head the church. Our choices don’t reflect on a nation or its people as a whole. What exactly, then, is required of a modern monarch? It can no longer be to embody an ideal or stand as an irreproachable role model. It isn’t really to guide the nation. It’s… complicated. Expectations of the monarchy have changed dramatically even with the passing of the late Queen. King Charles can’t just “carry on” in exactly the same fashion. He’s already making carefully considered alterations.
I find it curious that the modern monarch is not supposed to share an opinion on issues or politics in a public way. Of course, that was the whole point of much earlier monarchs. History teaches us that it was, at times, a very wise policy that previous modern monarchs weren’t given their heads in political matters–I’m looking at you, King Edward VIII. What is the role of a monarch, though, if not permitted opinions, influence and a plan for the nation? The late Queen was generally discreet and subtle about politics. Prince Charles took on some global issues and worthy charitable causes, which he must now, as King, leave behind. As well as a new title and duties, his princely legacy is one of the many losses he contends with as he redefines himself as king.
Having a king instead of a queen makes a difference to me and I am still working out why. It makes me…warier. I can’t completely explain it except that it is probably a reflection of my own personal experiences. When I arrived in London in the 1980s, there was both a female head of state and a female prime minister. It was a new, incredibly empowering experience for a young girl. The politics weren’t mine but seeing women in positions of great respect was a revelation. I’m finding it difficult to warm to the idea of a king and of Charles as that king, and feelings don’t necessarily follow logic. His public persona has ranged from kind to cold, from caring to entitled. Maybe some of this is tarnished by the melancholy memory of Diana shadowing his reign. That pain of public heartache has not been forgotten. I know I would feel differently about King Charles and Queen Camilla taking their places in history if Diana were still here on earth and living her best life. The current family battles played out in the press make me grateful that my own family dramas aren’t in the public eye. No one emerges unscathed.
But despite every misgiving, I’m looking forward to the history, pageantry and overall experience of a coronation. I am determined to err on the side of positivity. The last few years have been a horribly difficult time not only for Britain, but for the world. We continue to grieve unspeakable losses. We continue to struggle. Everything has changed and many of these changes have left us adrift in a world seemingly gone mad. May this particular change, this new reign, go a long way toward making the world a better place. That is my hope for King Charles III. May this coronation be a turning point. May King Charles astonish us all.
Elyse Ashton, the author, is an actress and Los Angeles Press Club Award winning co-host of The Anglophile Channel’s Dish shows. She gives her opinions very decidedly.
We’ve gone from the lean weeks of necessary pledge drives and musical crowd pleasing specials to an abundance of brand new television treats on Masterpiece and our local PBS stations. Last weekend saw season premieres for both Call The Midwife and Sanditon, as well as a new take on Marie Antoinette.
Reader, it’s the most wonderful television time of the year. It’s almost too much!
This is why I’ll be going all 1985 and watching these shows old school. One episode a week. I am resolved.
I learned my lesson years ago. A friend sent me a full season of Downton Abbey back when the UK would get the series months before the US. I binged the whole season on my computer. It was glorious while it lasted, but it left me feeling a bit hollow and sad when the last episode ended. Of course, I watched it all again when they aired later on PBS. I enjoyed it, but the excitement and anticipation weren’t the same. I missed that feeling.
Call The Midwife is easy to take an episode at a time because I only want to sob my heart out once a week. Marie Antoinette is something new so I’m still deciding how much I like it.
Sanditon, however, is a show I want to savor. Sanditon has been an emotional roller coaster. From watching the first episode yelling at the television about how “totally NOT Austen” moments are (a few WTHs may have been pronounced), to being drawn into the story, becoming fond of the characters, then furious over a season one ending that left us all dangling, I was, like many others, emotionally invested in Sanditon and bitterly disappointed when it was canceled.
We all know what happened next. Fan fury over the cancellation turned into a passionate campaign to bring us the rest of the story. I confess that I didn’t have much faith in the #SaveSanditon campaign as too many things had to fall into place to continue the series, but tumble neatly into line they did. We have two more seasons and are promised a proper ending. Skepticism vanquished, I curtsey gratefully to the #SanditonSisterhood for showing us how it’s done!
The second season of Sanditon did not disappoint. Bravo, writer Andrew Davies, for taking a few chapters of Jane Austen, fleshing out the characters and weaving them into a charming tale full of surprises.
PBS is now showing the third and very final season of Sanditon and I want to take it slow. One episode into the third season and although I think I might know where the story is heading, I know there will be unexpected twists along the way. I am so tempted to barrel through to the finale on PBSPassport or Prime, but the desire to make it last has won…at least for now. I don’t care if I see spoilers, because the journey itself is so delightful. I am resolved that after I have made these episodes last as long as I can, then and only then, will I stream Sanditon on a loop.
I’m pretty sure I can hold out.
I’m almost certain.
Time will tell.
I’m watching episode two of season three this evening. I’m excited, but so far, I remain in control. I’m already planning on how to ease the post Sanditon let-down. Because, you see, there is that final season of Endeavor coming up. Thank you Masterpiece and PBS!
Elyse Ashton, the author, is an actress, a voracious reader, a sometimes writer, an LA Press Club award-winning co-host of The Anglophile Channel’s Dish shows, a shamelessly enthusiastic historical dancer, and a great lover of English literature, her degree in French Literature notwithstanding. She’s a big geeked out fan of Jane Austen and Regency culture.
When Los Angelenos drive through a lashing rain storm to hear an author speak, you know that author must be someone incredibly special. Friday evening the British American Business Council hosted a fireside chat with celebrated vocal coach and best selling author Stewart Pearce at Spring Place in Beverly Hills.
James Desborough charmingly, ably moderated the evening, introduced the guest of honour, then gave us all a bit of background on Stewart Pearce and his rich list of accomplishments. The house was packed with an enraptured audience of soggy Californians eager to hear this mufti-talented, deeply mystical gentleman tell stories from his extraordinary life and give insights into his book, Diana: The Voice Of Change.
Stewart Pearce first captivated the audience with strategies on communicating with clarity, authenticity and purpose using examples from his distinguished career, then illustrated his points with positive, thought provoking anecdotes drawn from his own experiences working with a wide variety of public figures. He facilitates his clients in finding the power of their individual signature note. He stressed the necessity of changing our communication strategy until receiving the response we want. He detailed his communication work with the presentation to secure the London bid for the 2012 Olympics, vocal work sessions with Margaret Thatcher and Anthony Hopkins, even his childhood connections to royalty. Every anecdote was gracious.
The audience seemed determined to absorb every word. I noticed that no one was even checking their phone…yet another Los Angeles anomaly! Stewart Pearce is, indeed, the master of his subject.
The second portion of the evening Stewart Pearce spoke about his book, Diana: The Voice Of Change, This is not another biography or tell-all about Diana, Princess of Wales. This book’s purpose is very different. Pearce’s respect and love for his subject is apparent. His private experience of working with Diana was about empowerment, focus, and finding the strength of her unique voice. This message of grace, love and transformation is something he feels compelled to share with the world. He writes that it is Diana’s legacy, but it is also the message of Stewart Pearce.
The Anglophile Channel arrived early to possibly record an interview, but instead we indulged in a fascinating conversation. We hadn’t know anything about Stewart Pearce prior to this wonderful invitation from the British American Business Council and hadn’t had time yet to read his work. We were brimming with questions which Stewart Pearce kindly and generously answered.
We hope to have the opportunity to bring you an interview with this charismatic storyteller and master of voice in the near future when we travel to England for the upcoming coronation. In the meantime, pushing back against Hollywood stereotypes yet again, we plan to read his book. And yes, for Stewart Pearce, we will happily ride though the rain!
Elyse Ashton, the author, is an actress, a voracious reader, a sometimes writer, an LA Press Club award-winning co-host of The Anglophile Channel’s Dish shows, a shamelessly enthusiastic historical dancer, and a great lover of English literature. She gives her opinions very decidedly.
It’s that time of year again! Our opportunity to see our favorite television stars up close and personal!
The Paley Center for Media has announced the full lineup for the 40th Annual PaleyFest LA, which will run from Friday, March 31 through Tuesday, April 4 at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. PaleyFest LA returns for another year as the spring’s hottest television festival with exclusive behind-the-scenes conversations with leading stars from the most acclaimed and buzzworthy TV shows, screenings of special preview and premiere content, never-before-seen TV footage, and an interactive Q&A with festival attendees.
PaleyFest LA selections for 2023 are the opening night event, Disney+’s The Mandalorian, ABC’s Abbott Elementary, Paramount Network’s Yellowstone, ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy, CBS’ The Late Late Show with James Corden, Showtime’s Yellowjackets and the festival’s closing night selection Prime Video’s The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel….which we are particularly excited to see! SO many questions we have for Midge, like where does she get those marvelous fashions? Will we ever see Dr. Benjamin again (as played by the gorgeous Zachary Levi?) Will Susie Meyerson find love? Those and so many more questions will be answered at PaleyFest LA.
“We are delighted to announce the exciting full lineup for this year’s PaleyFest LA, the can’t-miss spring festival celebrating creative excellence in television,” said Maureen J. Reidy, President and CEO of The Paley Center for Media. “We thank our friends at Citi, The William S. Paley Foundation, and our studio and network partners for their continued support in helping us bring Paley Members and devoted TV fans an unmatched experience with the stars and creative talent behind some of television’s biggest hits.”
“We are thrilled to continue our support of this iconic festival as it enters its 40th anniversary of celebrating the best of television” said Tina Davis, Citi’s Interim Chief Marketing Officer. “The Paley Center for Media produces programs that explore the most critical issues and opportunities within the industry and PaleyFest LA is sure to offer a once-in-a-lifetime experience for fans and our cardmembers.”
And now for the lineup! Check out who will be in attendance at PaleyFest 2023*
The Mandalorian(Friday, March 31, 7:30 pm PT):
An epic opening night celebration featuring a special screening selected for this event by the producers followed by a conversation and Q&A with:
Jon Favreau, Showrunner & Executive Producer, Dave Filoni, Executive Producer, Rick Famuyiwa, Executive Producer. Plus, additional participants to be announced
Abbott Elementary(Saturday, April 1, 2:00 pm PT):
A hilarious celebration for one of TV’s best comedies! Special screening, conversation, and Q&A with:
Quinta Brunson, “Janine Teagues,” Creator & Executive Producer , Tyler James Williams, “Gregory Eddie” , Lisa Ann Walter, “Melissa Schemmenti” , Chris Perfetti, “Jacob Hill” , William Stanford Davis, “Mr. Johnson” , Sheryl Lee Ralph, “Barbara Howard”, Plus, additional guests to be announced
Yellowstone(Saturday, April 1, 7:00 pm PT):
The global phenomenon makes its PaleyFest debut!“We are honored to be invited to this year’s PaleyFest. It will be great seeing our incredible fans in person and talking all things Yellowstone,” said Yellowstone Executive Producer David Glasser.
Featuring a special screening selected for this event by the producers followed by a conversation and Q&A with:
Kevin Costner, Executive Producer, “John Dutton”, Kelly Reilly, “Beth Dutton”, Cole Hauser, “Rip Wheeler”, Luke Grimes, “Kayce Dutton”, Kelsey Asbille, “Monica Dutton”, Wes Bentley, “Jamie Dutton”Gil Birmingham, “Thomas Rainwater”Jacki Weaver, “Caroline Warner”. Plus additional Guests to be Announced.
Grey’s Anatomy (Sunday, April 2, 2:00 pm PT):
Celebrating this PaleyFest favorite featuring a special screening selected for this event by the producers followed by a conversation and Q&A with:
Krista Vernoff, Showrunner & Executive Producer , Debbie Allen, Executive Producer, “Catherine Fox” , Chandra Wilson, “Miranda Bailey” , James Pickens, Jr., “Richard Webber” , Kevin McKidd, “Owen Hunt” , Caterina Scorsone, “Amelia Shepherd”, Camilla Luddington, “Jo Wilson” , Kelly McCreary, “Maggie Pierce” , Kim Raver, “Teddy Altman” , Jake Borelli, “Levi Schmitt” , Anthony Hill, “Winston Ndugu” , Alexis Floyd, “Simone Griffith” , Harry Shum, Jr., “Benson ‘Blue’ Kwan” , Adelaide Kane, “Jules Millen”, Midori Francis, “Mika Yasuda” , Niko Terho, “Lucas Adams”
The Late Late Show with James Corden(Sunday, April 2, 7:00 pm PT):
Our favorite British telly presenter, James Corden Corden, who has hosted “The Late Late Show with James Corden” on CBS since 2015, first announced in April that he plans to leave at the end of the 2023 season. “We couldn’t be more honored to kick off our last month of The Late Late Show with the fans at PaleyFest, who have supported us over the last eight years,” said Rob Crabbe, executive Producer of The Late Late Show with James Corden. “We are grateful to see you all one last time!”
Featuring a special screening selected for this event by the Producers followed by a conversation and Q&A with:James Corden, Host & Executive Producer , Ben Winston, Executive Producer , Rob Crabbe, Executive Producer
Yellowjackets(Monday, April 3, 7:30 pm PT):
“Teen cannibals become messed up adults and then we all get invited to PaleyFest to unpack what the hell is happening. Talk about a dream (nightmare?) come true! We are thrilled and honored to be invited to this year’s festival to talk about our show with people as apparently demented as we are. We look forward to feeling not so alone!” said Yellowjackets showrunners, Jonathan Lisco, Ashley Lyle & Bart Nickerson.
A special premiere screening selected for this event by the producers followed by a conversation and Q&A with: Jonathan Lisco, Showrunner & Executive ProducerAshley Lyle, Showrunner & Executive ProducerBart Nickerson, Showrunner & Executive ProducerMelanie Lynskey, “Shauna”Christina Ricci, “Misty”Juliette Lewis, “Natalie”Tawny Cypress, “Taissa”Simone Kessell, “Lottie”Lauren Ambrose, “Van”Sophie Nélisse, “Teen Shauna”Sophie Thatcher, “Teen Natalie”Samantha Hanratty, “Teen Misty”Courtney Eaton, “Teen Lottie”Liv Hewson, “Teen Van”Steven Krueger, “Ben Scott”Warren Kole, “Jeff Sadecki”Kevin Alves, “Teen Travis”
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel(Tuesday, April 4, 7:30 pm PT):
Featuring a Special Preview Selected for this Event followed by a conversation and Q&A with:Amy Sherman-Palladino, Creator, Writer, Director & Executive Producer , Daniel Palladino, Writer, Director & Executive Producer Rachel Brosnahan, “Miriam ‘Midge’ Maisel” , Alex Borstein, “Susie Meyerson” , Tony Shalhoub, “Abe Weissman” , Marin Hinkle, “Rose Weissman” , Michael Zegen, “Joel Maisel” , Kevin Pollak, “Moishe Maisel” Caroline Aaron, “Shirley Maisel”
*Events & Participants Subject to Change. Talent Appear Schedule Permitting.
PaleyFest is the nation’s original and longest-running festival celebrating creative excellence in television. Throughout the decades, PaleyFest has celebrated the most acclaimed and impactful shows and stars including Lucille Ball, Barbra Streisand, George Lucas, Ava DuVernay, Norman Lear, and the casts and creative teams behind The Sopranos, The Simpsons, The West Wing, black-ish, Mad Men, Mary Tyler Moore, Parks and Recreation, Will & Grace, The Walking Dead, Outlander, and Stranger Things, among countless more.
While television fans eagerly await the start of PaleyFest, they will have the opportunity to relive some of PaleyFest’s best moments on the Paley Center’s YouTube channel. Some memorable highlights include conversations with the casts from Lost, The Golden Girls, The Big Bang Theory, and many more.
PaleyFest supports the Paley Center’s many initiatives including education workshops serving 10,000 youth annually, the PaleyImpact series featuring programs centered on today’s most pressing social issues and the role of media in our society, and the continued preservation of the Paley Archive, featuring more than 160,000 historically significant television and radio programs.
The Paley Center for Media is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that has proudly made its home in NYC for over 45 years and operates the iconic Paley Museum. Through its respected programming, the Paley Center leads the discussion about the cultural, creative, and social significance of media, drawing upon its curatorial expertise, an international collection, and close relationships with the media community. The general public can participate in Paley programs in both New York and Los Angeles that explore and celebrate the creativity, the innovations, the talent and the leaders who are shaping media. The public can also access the Paley Center’s permanent media collection, The Paley Archive, often referred to as a national treasure, containing over 160,000 television and radio programs and advertisements. Through the global programs of its Media Council and International Council, the Paley Center also serves as a neutral setting where media professionals can engage in discussion and debate about the evolving media landscape. Previously known as The Museum of Television & Radio, the Paley Center was founded in 1975 by William S. Paley, a pioneering innovator in the industry.
Legendary American Comedian and BBC Television Star, Kelly Monteith, Passes Away at 80.
[JAN 1, 2023 – LOS ANGELES]
It is with great sadness that The Anglophile Channel announces the passing of our dearest friend, teammate and creative collaborator, award-winning comedian/host, Kelly Monteith, who died on January 1, 2023 at the age of 80.
Monteith was an integral part of The Anglophile Channel having Produced and co-hosted “Brit Flix with Kelly, Paul and Two-Buck Chuck” for which Monteith and Paul Boland were awarded the National Arts and Entertainment Journalism Award for Best Television Anchor/Host by the Los Angeles Press Club.
Born in St. Louis, Missouri in 1942, Monteith made his stand-up comedy debut in 8th grade where he did five minutes in a talent show in front of his classmates. His jokes included material on the students, teachers and cafeteria. After that he got the comedy bug!
Monteith rose to fame after a few successful appearances on the “Des O’Connor Show” which led to Monteith starring in his own successful comedy series, “Kelly Monteith,” which ran on the BBC for six seasons. Monteith co-wrote his titular series with Neil Shand which included series regulars Gabrille Drake, Lisa Vanderpump and Sting’s wife, Trudie Styler. Monteith was the one of the first American comedians to get his own show on the BBC.
Monteith with co-star Gabrielle Drake
Trudie Styler was a series regular that Monteith remembers fondly in “BBC Memories”
BBC’s Kelly Monteith
Monteith later Produced and Hosted “Kelly Monteith’s BBC Memories” which featured a look back at his groundbreaking comedy series which was noted for breaking the fourth wall. A mix between sit-com and sketch show, it later became the inspiration for many network comedy series.
Bravo’s Lisa Vanderpump played Kelly’s girlfriend on BBC’s Kelly Monteith.
One of the many appearances Monteith made on the Des O’Connor show which led to his own self-titled comedy series on the BBC.
With Des O’Connor
In America, Monteith starred in two series on CBS called, “The Kelly Monteith Show” and “The Hit Squad.”
Freddie Prinze appears on Monteith’s CBS variety show.
Monteith also made 40+ appearances on “The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson” and Jay Leno as well as “The Late Show with David Letterman.”
THE TONIGHT SHOW STARRING JOHNNY CARSON — Pictured: (l-t) Comedian Kelly Monteith during an interview with host Johnny Carson on December 3,1976 — (Photo by: Ron Tom/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images via Getty Images)
Monteith often said that one of the highlights of his career was performing for Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II at the Royal Variety Performance in 1983. Monteith’s time in England was also incredibly special to him as that is where he met his future wife Caroline.
Monteith meets The Queen after The Royal Variety Performance in 1983
Caroline recalls that one of their favorite places to dine in London was the famed Mayfair eatery, Langan’s Brasserie, which was just around the corner from where they lived. “We would be at dinner and people would come up to our table to meet Kelly. He was always so kind to them and generous with his time. He loved meeting and interacting with his fans.”
Monteith was also well-respected in the comedy world amongst peers such as Jerry Seinfeld, Steve Martin and Jay Leno. Leno called Monteith a comedian who was “always extremely clever, extremely funny. One of the benchmarks. For those of us of a certain generation, Kelly was the guy.” Comedians Dennis Miller and Brian Regan also praised Monteith, often citing him as their inspiration for going into stand-up comedy.
On the road Kelly enjoyed a career working in Las Vegas opening for legendary entertainers Tony Bennett, Sammy Davis Jr., Aretha Franklin and many more. Kelly became a top headline entertainer for Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines and was always much in demand.
In February 2021, Monteith suffered a massive stroke and struggled to come back from his debilitating illness for almost two years. On New Years Day at 6:07pm Monteith passed away peacefully at his home in Los Angeles surrounded by his family.
On a personal note, Kelly was more than a teammate to us, he was a dear friend who we considered family.
He will be greatly missed by The Anglophile Channel family including Executive Producers Marlise and Paul Boland, Creative Director/Writer/Editor Juliette Boland, Host/Writer Elyse Ashton, Music Composer Richard Allen and Social Media Admin Meghan McKillop, and by his fans and admirers around the world.
RIP Kelly Monteith. Our hearts will never be the same but we know your work will live on to entertain audiences and inspire comedy talent for generations to come.
Share your messages of condolence for Kelly here or how his work entertained/inspired you. All messages will be shared with the Monteith family.
Persuasion 2022 inspired a lot of criticism from the moment the first still photos were released. When the trailer dropped the reactions from the Jane Austen purists (of which I am one, in my own way) ranged from curiosity to downright anger. Some proclaimed vehemently that they would not watch. They shall not. They will not! Well, maybe….
They really, really shouldn’t.
They’ll hate it.
They will despise it with a seething, frothing, bonnet-topped indignation.
But all that moaning doesn’t mean you shouldn’t watch Persuasion.
I confess that I, too, have suffered from More Austen Than Thou Syndrome while watching adaptations. Whenever a new Jane Austen adaptation emerges, I spend the first viewing comparing it to the book and being annoyed by the changes. It’s rare that I enjoy it the first time. I’m usually disappointed. Then I get over myself and go back to watch it again with different expectations. Every adaptation will contain something special, a new take, something unique that a particular actor brings to their role, maybe a scene that captures a specific emotion, but always, in every single film or tv adaptation, I find something to love. No one keeps me away from a new Austen adaptation. NO ONE.
Not every Jane Austen adaptation has been made with me as their target audience. Persuasion 2022 certainly hasn’t but that doesn’t mean I’m not invited to the party…and I am here for that party! The beauty of this Persuasion is that it opens the doors wide for those who might not otherwise have felt a part of this world. I am standing on the table cheering for the beautifully done diversity in casting. It brings a little closer the ideal of loving each other for the content of our character. One cannot dismiss the importance of seeing one’s own reflection in a story. More people will feel welcomed into the literature loving, Jane Austen fandom, and just thinking about that makes me happy cry.
Persuasion shows me a well loved book through a different lens. That’s not a bad thing. Many people are loving Persuasion because of what it is and that’s a very good thing, indeed. It may well be a new generation’s introduction to Jane Austen. No, it’s not completely faithful to the book. But in its defense I put forth that my introduction to Jane Austen was the 1940 Greer Garson and Laurence Olivier Pride & Prejudice, which, I think we can all agree was a pretty far cry from the novel. My English teacher showed the class and explained the differences between the film and the book. It piqued my interest and I was off to the library. Persuasion 2022 is a fresh take on the story peppered with modern colloquialisms mixed in with Austen’s own words. Viewers might be inspired to pick up the books, like I did. Maybe they’ll check out more adaptations. Maybe we’ll find out we all love Jane Austen.
You just might love Persuasion 2022. You might loathe it. Like me, you might be shouting “WHAT?!?” at the television, smiling and cringing, laughing and groaning. Persuasion 2022 will never be my favourite version of the story, but I already have favourites. Watch it for the fun that it brings in not taking itself too seriously. Watch it for some original characterizations. Watch it so you can say you’ve given it a try. Watch it because no one can stop you from checking out a new Jane Austen adaptation.
But now that I’ve seen it once, no one can stop me from getting over myself and watching Persuasion all over again. I know I will find more to love.
Elyse Ashton, the author, is an actress, a voracious reader, a sometimes writer, an LA Press Club award-winning co-host of The Anglophile Channel’s Dish shows, a shamelessly enthusiastic historical dancer, and a great lover of English literature, her degree in French Literature notwithstanding. She’s a big geeked out fan of Jane Austen and Regency culture.
Six years since the first Doctor Strange film comes one of the most highly anticipated Marvel movies of the year, Doctor Strange: Multiverse of Madness. Five years since my interview with Benedict Cumberbatch at the age of fifteen, I wish I could turn back the Eye of Agamotto to relive this moment with the sorcerer. Two years since the start of the life-altering COVID-19 pandemic, Marvel fans are no longer cooped up in their houses watching the non-stop Disney+ shows. Restless and hungry for adventure, the people were ready for some Doctor Strange magic, and the “Supes Multiverse of Madness Fan Experience” was the perfect charm. It’s time to Scooby Doo this crap.
BEWARE OF SPOILERS!!!
The Mad Experience
It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s Supes! A fan turned celebrity, Matt Ramos, referred to as Supes, is known for his love for all things superheroes, his complex theories and reviews, and his engagement with Marvel and DC fans alike, gaining millions of followers across all social media platforms. Whether you are loyal to the comics or the films, Ramos caters to everyone, with a superhero encyclopedia for a mind and unfeigned geekiness.
Ramos started The Supes Experience with the release of Spider-Man: No Way Home, where the world’s most passionate Marvel fans gathered together to enjoy the long-awaited film. After a year and a half of what we’ll call “The Blip,” people were clambering to watch No Way Home with like-minded Spidey lovers, an experience that would leave any MCU fan drooling. After hearing the positive reviews of The Supes Spider-Man No Way Home Experience, I kept a keen eye out for the next Marvel film in line.
Tickets for The Supes Multiverse of Madness Experience sold out in a few minutes, and I was one of the lucky winners. Donning my favorite Marvel sweater by Ashely Eckstein’s Her Universe, I eagerly arrived at the experience thirty minutes early to find a never-ending line occupied by hundreds of devoted Marvel fans wrapping around the AMC building, which had begun forming hours prior.
Dressed in Spider-Man, Doctor Strange, and Wanda Maximoff cosplays, attendees enthusiastically interacted with one another, exchanging out-of-this-world theories and chattering about the Marvel content creators and influencers that journeyed through the line to talk to ardent fans. The air was electric, and we hadn’t even entered the theater.
Once people found their seats, which were covered in complimentary Multiverse of Madness t-shirts, Supes began a special interview with none other than America Chavez herself, Xochitl Gomez, one of Marvel’s new up-and-coming stars.
Following Supes’ famous, “LET’S GOOO,” the entire room exploded with screaming and applause, especially as the Marvel intro projected images of Wanda and Doctor Strange within the logo. This initial surprise set the tone for the rest of the evening, pure electricity.
(Can you see me?)
We cheered for almost every moment. Doctor Strange maneuvered his cape onto his back whilst jumping off the side of a building, and we screamed. A subtle reference to Spider-Man, and we hollered. The theme to WandaVision played, and we cried. John Krasinski, Hayley Atwell, Anson Mount, Lashana Lynch, and Sir Patrick Stewart appeared as The Illuminati, and we fell out of our chairs. Captain Carter said, “I could do this all day,” and I slapped my neighbor’s arm with screeching only dogs could hear. This was a fantastic movie to watch with fellow Marvel geeks, and it was well worth the time in line.
The night could only be compared to the feeling of stumbling through universe after universe after universe; it was a whirlwind of emotions. If you long for an immersive viewing experience, buy tickets for the next Supes Fan Experience. The energy in that room is unparalleled.
After sitting through the credits and post-credits scenes, fans could gather in the lobby, meet Supes, and take a photo with him in front of a step-and-repeat, which only goes to show Ramos’ kindness and willingness to greet his fans. A true superhero. Thank you, Supes, for bringing MCU fans together. I look forward to the next experience.
The Mind-Blowing Mania in Multiverse of Madness
Phase 4 is defying the filmmaking traditions set by past Marvel films, venturing into different, unprecedented dimensions of storytelling. Doctor Strange: Multiverse of Madness is no exception. Evil Dead director Sam Raimi unapologetically leans into his horror roots to craft a madly hallucinatory film that will leave Marvel fans bewildered yet exhilarated.
The tone is clear and unique to Raimi’s directing style, and the horror elements were not too startling for the typically family-friendly Marvel genre. The film dips into the right amount of darkness, jump scares, and uneasiness to justify the eerily abstract world Raimi intended to create. A return to the Inception and kaleidoscopic nature of the first Doctor Strange film, Multiverse of Madness revels in its mind-bending trips. You will never not be on the edge of your seat.
The horror approach was strategically implemented but at times overwhelmed the already disjointed character development. As the film crams in all-encompassing CGI, arguably implausible, out-of-character moments, and brief expositions, the heart of the story gets lost in the chaos and does not flow as easily as previous stand-alone Marvel films such as Black Widow or Spider-Man: No Way Home, both better examples of economically balancing action and character.
The time and space provided by the new Disney+ shows are unmatched. With an episodic format, the elevated, Marvel-produced series offer greater insight into our beloved superheroes, as well as antiheroes, delving into these characters’ intricate psyches and exploring traumatic, emotional, and deeply therapeutic storylines, all praise-worthy features of Marvel’s Phase 4. The storytelling is less grandiose and is given the time to be more thoughtful, whereas Multiverse of Madness is allotted a mere two hours to cover three separate character arcs jammed in with a cosmic budget for special effects.
Elizabeth Olsen unveils every ounce of her soul for each performance as The Scarlet Witch. Showcasing a wide range, Olsen was granted the opportunity to display all her talents in the Emmy Award winning miniseries WandaVision, where her grounded performance was able to breathe and blossom into the powerhouse lioness Wanda Maximoff became. Marvel fans traveled beside Wanda on her journey through anger, grief, and acceptance and fell in love with her incredibly relatable character, so the year-long wait only increased the anticipation for Multiverse of Madness.
Relegated to portray the traditional horror monster for a substantial portion of the film, Wanda’s character arc is not as layered and her motives not as cleverly dealt with as in WandaVision. Nonetheless, despite the predictability of the script, Elizabeth Olsen delivers another engrossingly humane and heartbreaking performance that saves the messiness of the film and shows the extent at which a mother will go to retrieve her lost children.
Multiverse of Madness introduces a new essential player to the MCU, universe-hopping teenager America Chavez, played by Xochitl Gomez. Although hastily introduced with little backstory, Gomez brings life to the dark film and harkens back to that familiar, youthful Peter Parker flare that Marvel fans want to see more of. Perhaps America Chavez will receive her own Disney+ show that explains her origins? Gomez is instantly likable and overcomes the absurd controversy surrounding her LGBTQIA+ identifying character. Bravo, Gomez!
Benedict Cumberbatch is one of this generation’s most esteemed actors, and his talent is unforgivably wasted as Doctor Strange. Charismatic and a quintessential leading man, Cumberbatch has tackled a myriad of roles every aspiring male actor vies for, from Shakespeare’s Hamlet, which I was fortunate enough to see in person, to sociopathic and equally lovable Sherlock Holmes to mathematics genius Alan Turing. Cumberbatch will go down in history as an acting giant, and six years in, Marvel has still failed to give him his moment as Doctor Strange, unlike some of his MCU counterparts: Elizabeth Olsen (WandaVision), Tom Hiddleston (Loki), Jeremy Renner (Hawkeye), and newly recruited member of the team Oscar Isaac (Moon Knight).
Cumberbatch’s acting is always fascinating to study, but similar to Hiddleston, he is a classically trained actor with the capacity to deliver a polished and nuanced performance as Doctor Strange, if given the time and a longer format, instead of popping in random Marvel films. The Oscar nominated actor is one of my favorite performers of today’s age; he deserves a true heroic moment in the spotlight. (Note to Marvel: Please don’t wait another six years before we see the next Doctor Strange movie.)
Multiverse of Madness is undeniably a fun watch, especially accompanied by a large room full of avid Marvel-heads. The acting is wonderful, the production design is alluring, the cameos are worthy surprises, and certain directorial choices are risky but successfully creative. In my opinion, the main issue was the rushed script, which would benefit from a thorough revision and a fine tooth comb. Nevertheless, the film is doing exceptionally well in the box office and is perceived as a win for Marvel Studios.
There are enough fan service and crowd-pleasing scenes for faithful Marvel-goers to enjoy the film. If you adore Doctor Strange and WandaVision as much as I do, you will love watching this movie full of cheeky references and all its twists and turns.
Juliette Boland is an award-winning host, filmmaker, and writer and is currently a rising junior at USC School of Cinematic Arts.
To say that my local PBS stations have been influential in opening up my world would be an understatement. I watched spellbound since I was a child. After Sesame Street and Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood was over, the television stayed tuned to PBS—and what life changing discoveries they presented! When Milwaukee PBS channel ten aired a Jean Cocteau film on a snowy afternoon, I was enraptured and determined to learn French, then went onto get a degree in French literature. The short story series encouraged me to seek out books and authors that made my elementary school librarian very curious. But Masterpiece, then known as Masterpiece Theatre, always the jewel in the PBS crown, introduced me to British drama and inspired me to act, read, seek out history and gently led me down the path of a determined Anglophile in ways that I would never have found without those incredible programs.
Fast forward decades and I am still an Anglophile and excited by Masterpiece, which I now watch on PBS SoCal, and what treasures each new season will bring. Fans worldwide were delighted this spring by the return of Sanditon, based on a few short chapters by Jane Austen with the story continued by revered British writer Andrew Davies. Hope had all but evaporated when the series was canceled after what we all thought would be Sanditon’s sole season with its agonizing unfinished story, but the determination of the fans was rewarded. Sanditon was granted two more seasons and the adventures of Charlotte Heywood continued!
To celebrate the second season, PBS SoCal held a contest for a “Sanditon Lawn Party and Season Two Finale Screening Event”. I saw a twitter post on the very last day to enter, so I rushed to fill out my form and enclosed the requested picture of my best Sanditon inspired outfit. My hobby is historical dancing, inspired by all those amazing Jane Austen adaptations watched on Masterpiece, so I carefully chose a photo, sent in my entry, and hoped.
A few days later I received the notification that I won tickets and then began the flurry of rejoicing and ironing costumes. My husband Robert is just as crazy for the English Regency era as I am and also a fan of Sanditon, so, last night, feeling very fortunate indeed, we dressed up and set off for the event and anxious to watch the sneak preview of Sanditon’s season finale.
PBS SoCal really knows how to throw a party. Permit me to quote Jane Austen when I say of the venue, “I don’t think I’ve ever seen a place more happily situated”. The Bel Air Bay club is just up a bluff off the Pacific Coast Highway, boasting incredible views of the ocean from a lush garden, and the perfect place to celebrate a series set in a seaside town. The charming, friendly staff at the Bel Air Bay Club helped set the mood. We were greeted by kind people from PBS SoCal with gifts of Masterpiece socks and pens then welcomed onto the lawn where we could play croquet, indulge in decadent treats and canapes, tea, coffee, fizzy water or wine, have photos taken, and chat with fellow PBS SoCal fans of Masterpiece and Sanditon. Costumes were not required, but many people joined in the fun with with gowns, bonnets and accessories to evoke the period. We ogled each others ensembles, talked about the return of Sanditon and what we hoped to see in the finale. Some familiar faces from PBS SoCal also introduced themselves and mingled with the crowd on the lawn. It swept us into a perfect time away from the world’s troubles to indulge in the joy of PBS Masterpiece and Sanditon.
Later we were ushered up the stairs into a stunning banquet room complete with more of those breathtaking ocean views for a lively Sanditon themed quiz, a costume contest, prizes and a delicious dinner, served buffet style in the charming courtyard complete with an atmospheric fountain. Those who know me will be happy to hear that I exercised great decorum and refrained from jumping in to splash. The champagne flowed and there were smiles and laughter all around..
After dinner, the lights dimmed, and we were treated to a specially recorded message from star of Sanditon, Rose Williams, and then, the great awaited moment, the Sanditon season two finale rolled.
Sanditon fans know better than to expect the expected. Andrew Davies won’t be pressured to cave and write what might be the hoped for or seemingly obvious resolution. Even Jane Austen herself would be in for a jolt! I’m certainly not going to spoil it for anyone, but let it be said that all emotions held sway, and the season ends with a gasp that was elicited by the very last line. As closing credits rolled, Robert and I looked at each other at the same time and said “WHAT?!”. Don’t press me. I won’t tell. You can watch for yourself soon on your own local PBS station or stream it with PBS Passport.
The crowd seemed a little stunned yet excited after what we just saw. But the evening wasn’t over yet! We were invited to an elegant dessert buffet plus tea and coffee, all the while discussing the finale and speculating what we hope to see on the third season of Sanditon. The overall consensus seemed to be that Sanditon season three cannot come soon enough. We’re all certain that Andrew Davies has more Sanditon surprises up his sleeve.
As we made our way to the parking lot after a truly wonderful evening, our PBS friends handed out tote bags and bade us farewell. Thank you PBS SoCal! What a lovely, lovely celebration of yet another remarkable program on Masterpiece. This life-long Masterpiece PBS fan and unrepentant Anglophile is very grateful to have been included in your celebration of Sanditon.
Please allow me to give a gentle nudge to support your invaluable, local PBS stations if you are able. I can’t imagine what my life would have been like without them
Elyse Ashton, the author, is an actress and Los Angeles Press Club Award winning co-host of The Anglophile Channel’s Dish shows. She gives her opinions very decidedly.
“Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers…” to watch Harry Potter movies. Since the release of the first book in 1997, JK Rowling’s whimsical world of witches, wizards, and misfits has acted as a place of escapism for millions of Harry Potter fans, cleverly named “Potterheads,” from across the globe. If you grew up, as I did, with a childlike fascination with the otherworldly and an all-consuming passion for the books and films, I have a sneaky feeling that you, too, fantasized being told by a friendly half-giant, “Yer a wizard!” You, too, identified with Hermione’s nerdy love for learning or Ron’s endearing obsession with food. You, too, yearned for the friendships one may find at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, a home for those who are different and where weird is normal. Such themes are appealing to any child who does not feel they belong. Our generation is living proof that writing and cinema have the power to guide a lost soul to finding their place in the world. These stories are the foundation of who we bunch of misfits have grown to be. HBO Max’s mystical reunion special Harry Potter 20th Anniversary: Return to Hogwarts allows every adult who grew up besotted with the series to grab their time turners, return to childhood, and remember what it was like to believe in magic.
Not only does the spell-binding special track one’s magical journey through youth; it shows the original cast members and directors reconnecting with one another twenty years following the premiere of Sorcerer’s Stone and reflecting upon their experiences making the beloved films. Harry Potter stars Daniel Radcliffe (Harry Potter), Emma Watson (Hermione Granger), Rupert Grint (Ron Weasley), Ralph Fiennes (Voldemort), Gary Oldman (Sirius Black), Helena Bonham Carter (Bellatrix Lestrange), Jason Isaacs (Lucius Malfoy), Tom Felton (Draco Malfoy), Bonnie Wright (Ginny Weasley), and Evanna Lynch (Luna Lovegood) all joined together for the reunion, alongside a plethora of costars and each director from the franchise, Chris Columbus, Alfonso Cuarón, Mike Newell, and David Yates. Each Harry Potter actor and director was interviewed individually and were subsequently given time to discuss the magic behind the filmmaking process with one another.
Return to Hogwarts extracts enough behind-the-scenes facts out of its Chamber of Secrets to leave Potterheads “stupified.” A veritaserum potion, as Professor Snape would devilishly hiss, was not needed to draw the truth from these interviewees. Every person took this special as an opportunity to speak candidly and wholeheartedly about their memories, both the good and the not-so-good, whilst working on the Harry Potter movies.
OPENING THE CHAMBER OF SECRETS
Director of the first two films Chris Columbus was skeptical about reading the books, after having been approached three times. However, Potter-loving muggles have his daughter Eleanor to thank, since she was the one who convinced him to read the books after the release of Prisoner of Azkaban in 1999 and, hence, to take on the project. To echo Daniel Radcliffe, “Thank you, Eleanor!”
For the past decade, fans have melted over Emma Watson’s admitted childhood crush on Harry Potter rival and “foul, loathsome, evil, little cockroach” Tom Felton. Interviewed separately, both opened up about their close bond that has since evolved into a sibling-like love. Watson shared that the moment she fell for the dashing Slytherin boy was during one tutoring session when they were assigned to draw what they imagined God would look like, and “Tom had drawn a girl with a backward cap on a skateboard.” Due to their three-year age gap, Felton always saw her as a little sister and felt “very protective of her,” as he fondly described, and “that continues to the day.” And the love was reciprocated, as Watson stated, “Tom was the one I could often be more vulnerable with.” Cue sobbing from Dramione shippers.
Sparks were also flying around the Chosen One himself and not for Cho Chang or Ginny Weasley. In a sit-down interview between Daniel Radcliffe and ex death-eater Helena Bonham Carter, it was revealed that The Boy Who Lived wrote a flirty note to her when filming wrapped for Order of the Phoenix. Amidst childish giggling between them, Radcliffe read the decades-old love letter aloud, “I do love you and I just wish I had been born 10 years earlier. I might have had a chance.” Even though she was a Voldemort follower and the killer of Harry’s godfather Sirius Black, this might be the best example of “no hard feelings.”
Ironically, sparks could have landed on the cast of Harry Potter in a potentially serious fire hazard. What would have been CGI today, the floating candles in the Great Hall were real. Commenting on the hilarious absurdity of this production decision, Watson revealed that “hundreds of real candles that were really lit, on fishing lines, from the ceiling,” with Radcliffe joking that one of his favorite moments on set was “the moment when all the floated candles started burning through the ropes that tied them to the ceiling and just started falling through the Great Hall.”
A possibly more dangerous moment on the Harry Potter set was when director of Goblet of Fire Mike Newell injured himself staging the fight scene between the Weasley twins, Oliver (George) and James Phelps (Fred). When the brothers weren’t fighting the way Newell envisioned, he demonstrated by tackling Oliver and saying, “Like this.” The then hyper-energetic 60-year-old man cracked a few ribs that couldn’t be mended with a quick-and-easy Skele-Gro. What did you expect? Pumpkin Juice?
Many renowned actors have turned down Harry Potter roles, from Robin Williams passing on Hagrid to Hugh Grant almost portraying Gilderoy Lockhart. Jason Isaacs, who one could not picture as any character other than the conniving Lucius Malfoy, originally auditioned for Lockhart. After reading some scenes as the memory charm expert, he was requested by Columbus to audition for Malfoy. “I was about to play Captain Hook in Peter Pan and I thought, ‘Well, I don’t want to play two children’s villains,’” admitted Isaacs. Through “gritted teeth” and a “deeply bitter” disposition he gave a performance that would turn out to be perfect for the evil wizard.
Felton even expressed his initial fear of the actor while working with him as a kid. He was an intimidating “Jekyll and Hyde” type, assuming the persona of a frightening father at one moment and returning to his normal state in the other. (It’s okay, Tom. We were all scared of him, too.) In their first scene, which was cut from Chamber of Secrets, Isaacs accidentally pierced Felton’s hand with his cane, which, unbeknownst to both of them, was sharp at the tip. Nonetheless, any Potter fan knows that Lucius would not be nearly as spine-chilling if not played by the talented Isaacs.
Watch our interview with Isaacs here:
The most exciting revelation for those who weren’t already aware was that Alan Rickman was the only cast member who had the inside track on his storyline the entire time. Discussing Prisoner of Azkaban with Radcliffe, Gary Oldman notes that he wishes to have known “the whole picture” of his character’s arc when filming. To that, Radcliffe added that the late Alan Rickman was the only actor to have been told Snape’s backstory, “He very very early said to Jo, ‘I think I need to know what happens here.” This resulted in directors questioning his acting choices, to whom he would say, “I’ll tell you later.” Of course, Radcliffe delivered this line in a Rickman-esque impression which made Oldman bend over laughing.
Although disclosed to the media years ago, Emma Watson shared in the special that she almost left the franchise around the time Order of the Phoenix began production. “The fame thing had finally hit home in a big way,” Watson said, at a time when there was no other fictional female character as idolized or adored as Hermione Granger, the brightest witch of her age, which comes with a lot of pressure for a teenager. Felton added that “People definitely forget what she took on and how gracefully she did it.” Watson has taken control of her own narrative, becoming incredibly successful in acting and activism. She is still a role model for us all.
GROWING UP WITH THE GOLDEN TRIO
One of the most prominent features of the special is diving deep into the actors’ personal growth over time and holding the Mirror of Erised to life. It is presumptuous to think that because the Golden Trio have been global celebrities since the age of ten they were saved from life’s challenges. Radcliffe, Watson, and Grint had meaningful conversations about handling fame at such a young age, including the responsibility of carrying a film franchise and the feeling of having the world watch you grow up before their very eyes. As Columbus pointed out, it is a phenomenon unlike anything ever seen in cinema or ever will again.
The movies simultaneously capture both the characters’ and the actors’ life milestones, beginning with the first two years at Hogwarts, when the children must adapt to a new home. The advent of the Harry Potter series is childhood, when the movies were painted with gold and warm tones, welcoming the audience into the world of magic. This storybook environment was also felt behind the scenes, crafted by Columbus, who is often praised for being kind and patient with child actors.
“We were very much kids being kids on a set,” recalled Radcliffe, constantly playing Slap and oblivious to what the future would bring for the film’s three young stars. Columbus, who took on the role of a father figure, explained that the kids didn’t comprehend the stature of the legends they were acting alongside, such as Maggie Smith (Professor McGonagall), Richard Griffiths (Vernon Dursley), Kenneth Branagh (Gilderoy Lockhart), and John Hurt (Ollivander), “the British royalty of the acting world.” Felton confessed to Alfred Enoch (Dean Thomas) and Matthew Lewis (Neville Longbottom) that when he first saw Gary Oldman he naively thought that he was a janitor. Well, Oldman is a man of many talents.
Watch our interview with Kenneth Branagh here:
The optimism surrounding Sorcerer’s Stone and Chamber of Secrets slowly faded away as the film series shifted into a new and darker era. Columbus passed the reins to Cuarón who interpreted the Prisoner of Azkaban book as Harry, Ron, and Hermione “passing the threshold between childhood and their teenage years.” A cloud overshadows Harry, which Cuarón conveyed stylistically as a representation of how dementors suck the souls out of their victims.
Cuarón was the first director to assign Radcliffe, Watson, and Grint homework and truly treated them as teenagers. The three were to write essays in character and turn them in. Watson wrote twelve pages, beautifully written quite characteristically, Radcliffe wrote one solid page that he felt was sufficient, and Grint wrote nothing. Cuarón says that the excuse Grint gave him was, “I thought that Ron wouldn’t do it.”
Prisoner of Azkaban was a turning point for the teenagers’ development as actors, due to the fact that they were provided the task to film a pivotal scene in the Shrieking Shack opposite acting giants Alan Rickman, David Thewlis (Remus Lupin), Timothy Spall (Peter Pettigrew), and Gary Oldman. Radcliffe talked to Watson and Grint about being in awe of Oldman when he joined the cast, and Watson vividly remembered Radcliffe telling her, “Listen, Emma, you need to be cool.”
Cuarón and David Yates look back on how Oldman generously embraced Radcliffe and included him in the acting process. The way in which Harry and Sirius’s relationship unfolds paralleled Radcliffe and Oldman’s connection. Oldman can appear to be a daunting person at first glance, when, in reality, he is as agreeable and charming as Sirius Black. He had a natural paternal energy towards Radcliffe. As Cuarón says, “Don’t judge a book by its cover.”
Goblet of Fire, when magic was in the air. Mike Newell’s film introduced romance to the Harry Potter universe, and it was dealt with realistically, not shying away from the awkward phase every teenager faces. Radcliffe found that channeling his inherent awkwardness wasn’t necessarily an acting challenge to surmount. Grint recollected those years as “a lot of hormones flying around,” particularly with the two massive groups of purposefully good-looking people entering Hogwarts, the Beauxbatons girls and Durmstrang boys.
It was comforting for fellow self-conscious teenagers who felt out of place to watch the film’s three heroes struggle with self confidence and undergo emotional change. Lewis stated further that the actors themselves were crushing on and dating one another. “We were literally having the same experiences.”
The anxieties and insecurities that are born from a high school setting circulate the students at Hogwarts when they must ask one another to their first school dance, the Yule Ball. From Radcliffe’s rigid dancing with Katie Cheung to Emma Watson learning how to gracefully walk down stairs, without falling, in her Cinderella, “duckling becomes a swan” moment, Goblet of Fire illustrates the innocence of young love.
Soon, this romanticized reality comes to a crashing halt. Mike Newell concludes this section with, “The moment of Cedric Diggory’s death is the moment the series comes of age. The children have left childhood and must face the perils of adulthood.” This was an eye-opening experience for any kid who watched this scene. For many, it was the first time seeing someone so young greet death. It is a tragically powerful image one never forgets.
Order and the Phoenix and Half-Blood Prince required an even darker mood, for the world of Harry Potter evolved into a divided political environment where Harry, Ron, and Hermione’s actions had the power to influence major events. One may argue that this is the most emotionally exhausting story for Harry, who shows signs of trauma after having witnessed the murder of a peer his own age, caused by his sworn enemy Lord Voldemort. It’s when he feels the most alone and distant from everyone in the entire series, despite his friends being at his side and offering their support. Interestingly, at that time, Radcliffe himself was dealing with his own problems, as were Grint and Watson.
Watson rediscovered a diary she kept during production and said, “I could see at times I was lonely.” Responding to Watson’s feelings during this period, he noted that while Radcliffe and Grint had each other to depend on, and Felton himself had his “cronies.” Watson was younger and all by herself. Nobody fully understood everything she was burdened with as a young female icon and star.
Radcliffe explained that because they were so young, it never occurred to them to ask one another how they were doing amid the success: “As a 14-year-old boy, I was never going to turn around to another 14-year-old and be like, ‘Hey, how are you doing? Is everything ok?’”
At times, Grint himself wondered what his life would look like if he “called it a day” and said, “I feel like I lost track of who I was and who the character was. I didn’t really know where they ended or began. Even my name didn’t feel like my name. I felt I only knew how to do one thing. I knew how to play Ron.”
At the heart of Harry Potter is an alliance of friends, offering as Carter describes, “a great relief of loneliness.” This can be seen in Evanna Lynch’s unique path to Luna Lovegood. As someone who saw herself an outsider, Lynch appreciated Rowling’s “secret world of oddballs,” so she wrote the acclaimed author a letter saying, “I would find life a bit hopeless without Harry Potter.” Years later, she took a chance at a cattle call audition and won the part with her uncanny performance as the spacey and lovable Ravenclaw.
The special is full of overwhelming waves of nostalgia that will surely make every Potterhead tear up. The most moving section is when the cast pays tribute to the main actors who have sadly passed on, Richard Harris, Richard Griffiths, John Hurt, Helen McCrory, and Alan Rickman. With his voice breaking, Felton reflected on his wonderful bond with McCrory, who played his mother, and how much she meant to him. Radcliffe and Columbus laughed over having tricked Richard Harris into believing that Fawkes was a real phoenix. Emma Watson shared how the late Alan Rickman never treated her as a child, and Fiennes named him a “magician” when acting.
Alan Rickman (Severus Snape) 1946-2016
John Hurt (Ollivander) 1940-2017
Helen McCrory (Narcissa Malfoy) 1968-2021
Richard Harris (Dumbledore) 1930-2002
“It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live.” – Albus Dumbledore
The actors and crew members who have left us too soon left an indelible mark on our hearts, and the special honors their contributions to the franchise by beautifully listing their names across The Great Hall’s bewitched night sky. Raise your wands.
As the Harry Potter series came to a close, the franchise transformed into an earthier and more visceral version of the magical world, an aesthetic that suited this sad farewell. Whether it be Hermione and Ron’s first kiss, a long-awaited moment for Potterheads – mostly for Radcliffe whose mischief was assuredly not managed on set – Snape’s backstory finally unveiled, revealing he was a hero all along, or underdog Neville Longbottom saving the day by destroying a horcrux, resembling Lewis’s own route to self-confidence, the Deathly Hallows movies were wholly satisfactory for the fans and the actors, who had to bid adieu to characters they had been playing for ten years. The Harry Potter movies were a cinematic accomplishment, but the goodbye was bittersweet.
This powerful, collective emotion is expressed in the final interviews. Emma Watson and Rupert Grint sat down together in what may be the most touching part of the special. Watson, without trying to get emotional, said, “You are like a pillar in my life.” Rupert responded, “I’ve watched you grow up. We’ve watched each other grow up. We grew up together. We’re a family. I love you.” Is there a spell to reverse tears? No? Bring out the tissues. “As a friend.” Rupert assured. Classic Ron.
In her own interview, Watson completely broke down, saying, “It’s just the best, most amazing experience. I can’t really explain to you, like they’re such good people. They’re so kind. They both took their responsibilities really seriously. I appreciated that so much.”
Radcliffe, visibly emotional, concluded, “The crew on these films were unbelievable. There are people on these films that are… are foundation to who I am, as a person and an actor. I feel so lucky to be where I am and to have the life that I have and be able to work with the people I work with now. But none of it is possible without this… It was a very good ten years.”
If you were ever a Potter fan or a child who believed in a world where witches and wizards could find camaraderie and love, you were crying along with them. Anyone could tell that twenty years later our Golden Trio is still inseparable, forever intrinsically linked by Harry Potter.
TWENTY YEARS LATER
Reaching my twentieth birthday this year, I see that Harry Potter has always been a part of my life and always will be. From the age of nine, I completely redesigned my room to appear as if it were taken right out of a Harry Potter novel. My parents, or shall I say Santa Claus, constructed a wooden castle as my bed. The top floor is where I slept, and below I created my very own Gryffindor Common Room. I attained every piece of Harry Potter merchandise you could imagine, thanks to Whimsic Alley, a store akin to Diagon Alley that I frequented many a time. My room exploded with Potterhead geekdom.
My mother would throw spectacular Harry Potter parties for Halloween. Our living room transformed into The Great Hall, complete with candles hanging from the ceiling and house flags flying. Long tables were covered in confections, chicken legs, and corn for each Hogwarts house. My dad would dress as Professor Snape, and being the amazing impressionist he is, spooked the kids with his eerily accurate Alan Rickman impression. My mother would dress up as Professor McGonnagall or Professor Trelawney and place the students into their houses with our very own Sorting Hat. (If I remember correctly, I dressed up as Hermione three years in a row.)
Ever since kindergarten, I awaited the highly-anticipated school event that every fifth grader has the privilege of enjoying which was… Harry Potter Day. Of course, most of the decorations utilized for the event were from my own collection, acquired over the ten years of my early life. I was placed into Gryffindor – fate, right? I won the Potter quiz and was assigned the Gryffindor prefect. Slytherin may have won the House Cup, which was actually the TriWizard Cup, I might add, but that was probably the best day of elementary school.
As I grew older and aspired to be a journalist, I began to see in person, meet, and sometimes interview some of my Harry Potter idols on red carpets, like Ralph Fiennes, Jason Isaacs, Kenneth Branagh, Alfred Enoch, Tom Felton and Emma Watson. I also covered different Harry Potter events, like the opening of The Fantastic Beasts exhibit or The Universal Studios Hollywood Christmas at Hogwarts event.
Harry Potter has brought magic into all of our lives. I believe it is so loved because of its compassion and relatability. When we had school principals, Radcliffe, Watson, and Grint had directors. When we had teachers, they had acting legends teaching them the ropes of acting. At our core, we are all the same. We all go through the different stages of life. We all encounter grief. We all feel happiness. As someone who often struggled to find my place, I found friendship with Harry, Ron, and Hermione. I knew that Hogwarts would be a home for me. Always.
Watch Harry Potter 20th Anniversary: Return to Hogwarts now streaming on HBO Max.
TAC’s Student Journalist: Juliette Boland is a Harvard Prize recipient and a four-time Los Angeles Press Club, National Arts & Entertainment Journalism Award winner. She has covered entertainment news for The Anglophile Channel since the age of 11, becoming the youngest NAEJ award winner in LA Press Club history at age 12. Juliette is currently a junior at University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts majoring in Film & Television Production and minoring in Screenwriting.
Spencer: The Good, The Bad and The Beautiful Diana Princess of Wales
By Elyse Ashton
The controversy about the film Spencer is raging before it even opens on November 5th.. I was invited to attend a screening last night in Hollywood followed by a q&a session with star Kristen Stewart. I didn’t know what to expect, but this wasn’t it. We were warned before the screening “This is NOT a bio-pic” so I tightened my KN95 and prepared for a wild ride.
And, dear reader, it was. I am still processing what I saw. It is thought provoking, emotional, both delicately soaring and uncomfortably confining, containing some truth, fact based fantasy and outright invention. The film itself begins with the disclaimer that it is a fable drawn from a “true tragedy” which plays out as three surreal days in the imaginary life of Diana during a Christmas visit to Sandringham. It begins with scores of vehicles laden with provisions for the royal celebration making their way over a dead pheasant in the road. We also meet Diana, getting lost on her solitary drive. The royal chef recognizes her on the side of the road and helps her discover exactly where she is, which is very near her childhood home. Immediate metaphors! Massive symbolism! Let’s dish!
The acting was superb. There has been a lot of apprehension about the casting of Kristen Stewart but she pulled off the role of Diana well beyond my expectations. She revealed to the audience during question time that she had six months to work and prepare for her role, and it shows. She acknowledged she isn’t a ringer for Diana physically, but trained with William Conacher (who also coached actors Naomi Watts and Emma Corrin), to take on Diana’s voice and mannerisms to the point where they look unstudied. Kristen Stewart carries this film and makes it her tour de force. She and director Pablo Larrain bring the audience on an intense surreal psychological journey though isolation and mental illness reminiscent of 1960’s films like “Repulsion”.
Stewart is surrounded by a brilliant supporting cast. Jack Farthing is underused but strong in his subtle portrayal of Prince Charles. Jack Nielen and Freddie Spry are perfect as young William and Harry. They radiate love, bring moments of fun, and embody the pain felt by children in the midst of dysfunction. Stella Gonet portrays a distant, unflappable Queen. Timothy Spall is equerry Major Alistair Gregory, an enigmatic figure who is creepily omnipresent. He cares, but not about Diana. Sally Hawkins plays Maggie, Diana’s favorite dresser and confidante. She has a big sympathetic heart and a secret which is no surprise. Sean Harris is Royal Chef Darren who has a pivotal role as a sort of guide with a deep understanding of the machine he works within, a solid knowledge of the rules, the caveats and guidance on how to survive. A sign in his kitchen warns ominously “They Can Hear You”. Diana has the hardest struggles and yet the most understanding from those below stairs characters, where real life occurs and the wheels are kept turning to facilitate the upstairs façade and their often cruel “bits of fun”. The elder members of the royal family are directed to rarely break form or show emotion. Most have no lines at all.
Spencer is a beautifully made film. It’s lovely to look at most of the time. The settings and costumes are transcendent and create an unattainable mythic royal world. The magnificent score perfectly illustrates and underscores the anxiety and emotion yet also calls attention to itself.
There are several difficult scenes focusing on Diana’s bulimia, her struggle and inability to force herself to do, as Prince Charles says, “things you hate” and a gruesome moment of self harm. For much of the film, Diana is not likable or sympathetic as depicted because of her entitled self absorption and disregard for everyone but her children. There were moments when Diana is outright bratty and rude, dropping a few f-bombs and a coolly delivering a cringe worthy impropriety that sends a newly assigned dresser hurrying out of the room. She can be petulant and frustrating. She robs a scarecrow and talks to a coat, steals out into the dead of night armed with wire cutters and torch, which seem way out of character and pulls you out of the film to wonder why. I understood that it was to illustrate the themes of emptiness and the struggle of going home which runs through the film, but it can be jarring.
Spencer is strange and surreal. Reality ebbs and flows atmospherically. How many films can boast the wise ghost of Anne Bolyen as Deus ex Machina? Who is really going to eat pearls in soup? Suddenly, we have a dance montage. Just go with it. Moments of joy are hard earned. The audience will recognize that Spencer, was made by writer Steven Wright, director Pablo Larrain, and it’s star, Kristen Stewart from a place of real admiration for Diana. But it also takes disturbing liberties of speculation and projection. It is provocative and masterfully plotted out. It is not at all a forgettable film.
As the audience has been warned, this is a fable, and we really don’t know what is going to happen. I wondered if the royal family was actually going to kill Diana during the course of this imaginary Christmas. So, one could safely venture to say that the film is not entirely respectful. Any speculation is also troubling because Diana’s history is recent, and her family are still dealing with the aftermath. These are real people depicted, and for all the disclaimers, some viewers are still going to believe it’s what truly happened. Intentional or not, this will cause pain.
The ending, without spoilers, presents us with a “what if” that was unexpectedly emotional. After the film, a lady in the audience asked if there was going to be a part two, which to me… misses the whole point. We interpreted it very differently.
I’m neither going to encourage or discourage you to see Spencer. It’s not an easy watch. A few audience members left before the end. Others stood and applauded. The suffering and anxiety are palpable. Kristen Stewart understood that you don’t ask the audience what they thought directly after viewing. She said she wouldn’t ask because, “You just saw it”. I am still thinking about certain scenes, working out symbols and discovering meanings. So go see Spencer if you’re intrigued, or give it a miss if you find the whole idea maddening. I’ll understand either way. One thing I do know is that you’ll have an opinion!
Elyse Ashton, the author, is an actress and Los Angeles Press Club Award winning co-host of The Anglophile Channel’s Dish shows. She gives her opinions very decidedly for not so young a person.