The Lost King represents the reunion between director Stephen Frears and writers Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope after their award-winning film Philomena. Following an amatuer historian who sets out on the academically unsupported mission of finding the remains of King Richard III, it is yet another fruitful collaboration, resulting in a film that is funny yet compassionate. When asked why he was drawn back to work with the Coogan/Pope duo again, Frears had nothing but compliments.
“They write in a very fresh way, not in a way that is familiar or many other writers would do it, which I like very much.” – Stephen Frears
Coogan is best-known for his comedic work, being a world-renowned comedian from his role as Alan Partridge, as well as playing other iconic characters. However, turns in films like Philomena and 24 Hour Party People have shown that he has dramatic chops that are just as strong as his comedic ones. As a writer, he tends to blend these two sides.
“Whenever Jeff and I write a screenplay, we try to use comedy to sort of pepper the story with some light relief and make it enjoyable. To sugar the pill of sometimes complex or ostensibly difficult subject matter. When you use humor, you engage people quite quickly and then you can sort of get on to the meat of the story. So it’s a natural thing with humor. Humor is a tool in your toolkit that is very useful, and we employ this quite well.” – Steve Coogan
In The Lost King, Langley experiences visions of Richard III as she sets out to discover the resting place of his remains. As Frears says, “It’s also a ghost story.” It’s a unique device that draws the audience into this story in a unique way. Co-writer Jeff Pope explains the film’s unique relationship with the image of Richard III.
“My perception of Richard III was based on Shakespeare’s play. What I discovered very early, to my surprise, was that he wrote it more than 100 years after the death of Richard III. So he’s regurgitating history, and he’s regurgitating Tudor history, not Plantagenet history. So we had to come at it from a skeptical point of view and ask, ‘Was Richard really as evil as history would have us believe?’ Phillipa said something to us as we were working with her and working out what the story was about how she would have imaginary conversations with Richard. So that sparked the whole idea of Richard being someone she talks to, who appears as an apparition. It’s obviously a figment of her imagination — it wasn’t really him — but it was a way of unlocking her thought process, and also personifying Richard so that he’s not this hunchbacked evil murderer that history tries to tell us he is.” – Jeff Pope
After a successful premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival, The Lost King will be released in theaters in the U.K. this October and comes out in the United States next spring. Audiences will want to see what Pope and Coogan call “the ultimate ode to the divorced moms of the world,” because of the wonderful collaboration of these tremendously talented folks.