James D’Arcy is a man who’s about to become horrendously famous mainly because Madonna has cast him as Edward VIII in her second movie as a director, W.E. — her take on the Wallis Simpson saga that led to the 1936 abdication crisis. And, because Madonna is Madonna, it already has reviewers champing at the bit, gossips speculating over rows on set and historians despairing of inaccuracies in the plot.
D’Arcy gave his first big magazine interview to The Sunday Times talking about his part is W.E. and Madonna the director…
On playing the part of Edward VIII…
“I’m just paid to deliver the lines, not put my hand up and say, actually… we did the best that we could.
To help me research the role, Madonna gave me I can’t tell you how many books — I mean, it was like that (waving a hand above his knees), and they all had Post-it notes pretty much on every page.
Madonna observed that if you mention Edward and Wallis, it’s like throwing a Molotov cocktail into the conversation.
She is herself a little like Edward and Wallis, in that everybody has a view [on her].”
On Ewan McGregor declining the part of Edward VIII…
“I can’t believe I was the first choice for the film.
I don’t know about Ewan but I know that Vera Farmiga was going to [play Wallis], then got pregnant. So lucky Andrea [Riseborough, who plays Wallis], lucky me, to be in a position where I get to compete for roles that actors who are quite namey are also in consideration for.”
On auditionning over Skype…
“[Madonna] was talking and at some point the Skype froze. If I’d been Skyping with a friend you go into a whole kind of, ‘Oh, you’ve frozen, hold on I’ll call you back.’ I didn’t feel confident saying that, so I just quietly carried on talking for 10 minutes, thinking, ‘I hope the picture comes back.’
It was odd talking to the most famous pop star of the last 25 years on my computer.”
On meeting Madonna…
“When I met her in the flesh, I was starstruck, but she is genuinely engaged in conversation with you, so you can’t be thinking that the whole time.
She’s totally human in perhaps a way I wasn’t expecting. Much more unassuming than you imagine. Very chatty, she just talked about normal things.
She’s just very clear about what she wants. I don’t perceive that in a bad way.
I love it when directors are very clear in terms of their vision.
She has the greatest work ethic of anybody I’ve ever met.
She was more knowledgeable about that subject than the rest of the cast and crew put together and very sure of how she wanted it to be.
It was incredibly exciting, because her passion was so great for that subject it was infectious.
She’s great! I like her a lot. She’s funny, sexy, cool… and we stay in touch.”
On Madonna being sexy or not…
“Yeah. Well, I mean, she’s not Madonna by mistake.”
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