Ian McKellen Official Home Page

 Screenplay by Ian McKellen and Richard Loncraine

Scenes 40, 41, 42, 43, 44, 45, 46, 47 



BRACKENBURY looks down the steep open stairwell. His voice echoes as he calls down to the intruding TYRELL and NCO.


What would you, fellow? And how came you hither? 


I would speak with Clarence; and I came hither on my legs.

TYRELL insolently holds out CLARENCE'S death-warrant to BRACKENBURY, who reluctantly starts down the stairs to read it.

scene 40. The discussion of Clarence's imprisonment is interrupted to show his murderers arriving at The Tower. In the play, Richard does not hand over the death warrant until after dinner. The long scene which follows (1.4) begins with Clarence's dream and continues right up to his death.


The stately HEAD BUTLER and full MALE AND FEMALE STAFF are expertly serving soup and wine. Slurping and breaking of bread. RICHARD manages, as usual, with just one hand.

(breaking the long silence)

I never did incense His Majesty
Against your brother Clarence.


You may deny that you -


She may, my Lord -


She may. Earl Rivers! Why who knows not so? 
She may do more, sir, than denying that. 
She may help you to many great promotions. 
What may she not?


My Lord of Gloucester, I have too long borne 
Your blunt upbraidings and your bitter scoffs.


I had rather be a country serving-maid, 
Than a great Queen in this condition 
To be so baited, scorned and stormed at. 
By heaven, I will acquaint His Majesty.

scene 41. Much of the food for this scene was prepared to one side of the Prince Regent's kitchens, where so many royal banquets were cooked and served. Film food is rarely as appetising as it looks on the screen. Our half-lobsters, dressed out of their shells, along with the fresh fruit and salads, all started to decay over the 48 hours we were in the Pavilion. Hour by hour, under the hot lamps, the mayonnaise curdled, the bread curled and rotting fish began to stink. Only the 'wine' (diluted Ribena) was replenished for each take and therefore safe to swallow.


Tell him and spare not. Look, what I have said, 
I will avouch in presence of the King. 
Before you were Queen, yes, or your husband King,
I was a packhorse in his great affairs. 
In all that time, you and your brother here 
Were sympathetic to the enemy.
Let me put in your minds, if you forget, 
What you have been before and what you are. 
Indeed what I have been and what I am.

(to herself)

A bottled spider.


My dear brother-in-law, in those busy days 
When now you try to prove us enemies, 
We followed then Edward, our lawful King.


So should she you, if you should be her King.


If I should be? I'd rather be a pedlar. 
I am too childish-foolish for this world.


You poisonous, bunch-backed toad!

The company has listened to this bitter exchange and been impressed by RICHARD'S cool righteousness. Certainly QUEEN ELIZABETH has now gone too far.

(leans in to QUEEN ELIZABETH)

Have done! Have done.

(crying now, to RIVERS)

Small joy have I in being this country's Queen.

(sotto voce)

Oh, Buckingham, take heed of yonder dog! Look, when he fawns, he bites. 

CATESBY enters discreetly. All turn to the King's private secretary.


Your Majesty, His Majesty has called for you.

QUEEN ELIZABETH rises and takes PRINCESS ELIZABETH out with her. RIVERS follows her swiftly. CATESBY wonders what he has interrupted but also withdraws.

The guests who have risen and bowed are not sure what they should do next. Pity to waste a free banquet. RICHARD is relaxed.


What did she say, my Lord of Buckingham?

'Were sympathetic to the enemy.' This is my clarification of the play's 'Were factious to the house of Lancaster.'

'What you have been before and what you are. Indeed what I have been and what I am.' In the play, this reads:

What you have been ere this and what you are;
Withal, what I have been and what I am.

Here and elsewhere, archaisms have been adjusted so as not to puzzle the modem ear. I am prepared for the accusation of being patronising. When Maggie Smith and I were in Much Ado About Nothing for the National Theatre (1966), Robert Graves was credited under Shakespeare in the programme for the synonyms he had substituted for some of the more obscure vocabulary. Graves was lambasted by those drama critics who felt that a crucial part of the experience of seeing and hearing Shakespeare was in measuring up to the difficulties, rather than in side-stepping them. Nevertheless, I have often since clarified Elizabethan texts in performance: e.g., I always say 'instantly' instead of 'presently', whose meaning has reversed itself over the last 400 years. No one has yet complained. Perhaps it is only an offence to alter Shakespeare if you confess to it.

Once all the dialogue was filmed, there was scarcely time for the all-important reaction shots from the other guests at dinner. This would involve moving the camera to Queen Elizabeth's point of view, with the attendant lighting change to illuminate the wall opposite her. Dawn was breaking and so instead of moving the camera and lights, we moved the actors, who exchanged places with those opposite. The wall behind Queen Elizabeth thus did double service.

(quietly, to RICHARD)

Nothing that I respect, my gracious Lord.

RICHARD takes his place and the others follow suit. They look toward him and he smiles innocently back at them. He begins to eat. They all do the same.


I cannot blame her, by God's Holy Mother.

(turning to CAMERA and not overheard)

I do the wrong and first begin to brawl. 
And seem a saint when most I play the devil.


A virtuous and a Christian-like conclusion, 
To pray for those who have done wrong to you.

RICHARD smiles his thanks for that supportive remark. The banquet proceeds uneasily.

'Nothing that I respect, my gracious Lord.' Richard's aim is to increase suspicion of the foreigners, Queen Elizabeth and Rivers, thereby drawing Buckingham, Hastings, Stanley and the Archbishop into his circle. In this and similar two-shots, I was able to reduce my height a little, by bending my knees out of view of the camera. Richard's deformed spine would have foreshortened his upper body. In long shot, this was not of course practical: but I like it best when Richard is shorter than I am.

'I do the wrong. . .' These two lines were cut in the editing-room, so that the scene now ends with Richard's confidential glance to camera in reaction to the Archbishop's piety.

'A virtuous and a Christian-like conclusion . . .' Rivers was robbed of these lines, in order to introduce the Archbishop. 

In the play, there are three bishops - all Catholic, one of them a Cardinal. Our Archbishop is head of the Protestant Established Church and at the centre of the power- brokers' set, a politician ambitious for the survival and promotion of his Church. 

The Archbishop plays a dangerous game in encouraging Richmond to take up armed revolt, long before others decide that Richard has to be dealt with. To look at, butter wouldn't melt in Roger Hammond's mouth.



TYRELL and the NCO peer through a windowed door and see their victim at his ablutions in the communal bath-house.


What! Are you afraid?


Not to kill him, having a warrant for it; but to 
be damned for killing him, from which no warrant can defend me.


I thought you had been resolute.


So I am - to let him live.


I'll back to Richard Gloucester and tell him so.


No. Stay a little. Some certain dregs of conscience are yet within me.


Remember our reward, when the deed's done.


Phew! He dies. I had forgot the reward.


Where's your conscience now?


In the Duke of Gloucester's purse.

scene 42. This truncated version of one of the few prose scenes is an example of Shakespeare presenting ordinary citizens caught up in the state affairs of the principal characters. The NCO's venality is a chilling reminder that, under tyranny, obeying orders often takes precedence over doing what is right. 

In the play, there are a few other glimpses of the world beyond the corridors of power. Three citizens discuss politics (2.3) and in a solo sonnet, the Scrivener confides to the audience his knowledge of Richard's manipulation of public relations (3.6).

'I had forgot the reward.' Michael Elphick (NCO) and I met backstage, working at the Chichester Festival Theatre in 1966. He was a drama student, filling in as a stage-hand during his long vacation. I was on stage with Laurence Olivier's National Theatre Company, which used to vacate its home at the Old Vie Theatre in London to present a summer repertoire in the Sussex countryside.



TYRELL and the NCO enter and approach CLARENCE as he lies in a long, enamelled bath, reading a Bible.


In God's name, what are you?


A man as you are.


But not, as I am, royal.


Nor you, as we are, loyal.


Who sent you to me? And why have you come?


To ...to...to -


- murder me!


Ay, ay.


But how, my friends, have I offended you?


Offended us you have not - but King Edward.


I will send you to my brother Richard, 
Who shall reward you better for my life 
Than will the King for tidings of my death.


You are deceived. Your brother Richard hates you.


0 no! He loves me and he holds me dear. 
Go you to him, tell him and he will weep.


Yes, millstones! As he lessoned us to weep.


0 do not slander him, for he is kind.


Right; as snow in harvest.

The NCO efficiently holds down CLARENCE, as TYRELL slices open his throat and then pushes the dying man's head under the water. A rush of red billows through the water toward the CAMERA.

'reading a Bible.' At the RNT, Richard had given his own battle-worn Bible to Clarence to comfort him in his imprisonment. It foreshadowed Richard playing the holy man in his duping of the Lord Mayor and city gentlemen. Having omitted this Bible-business in scene 21, a newspaper replaces it as Clarence's reading-matter.

Nigel Hawthorne followed Richard III with more Shakespeare - playing Malvolio in Trevor Nunn's film of Twelfth Night.

'0 do not slander him, for he is kind.' To the end, Clarence is blind to Richard's infidelity. Just as he might begin to realise the significance of his nightmare about drowning, he is thrust into the bath water. In the play, the first murderer stabs Clarence: 

Take that and that. If all this will not do. 
I'll drown you in the malmsey-butt within. (1.4.268)



RICHARD, smoking, in his favourite armchair. He is rubbing his painful, left hand. There is a quiet knock at the door.



RATCLIFFE enters and hands over a small packet. RICHARD nods. RATCLIFFE leaves. RICHARD unwraps the packet, which contains CLARENCE'S cracked spectacles. RICHARD downs his glass of whisky.

RICHARD ignores his bride, LADY ANNE, alluringly half- naked in her red lingerie, at their bedroom door. He checks his Rolex and bustles past her, closing the bedroom door behind him. LADY ANNE is alone once more.

scene 44. Richard's preoccupation with Clarence's death is an appropriate moment to indicate that his marriage to Lady Anne is already turning sour.

When the final screenplay was issued, it was called 'the Bible' and almost as much revered, in that every department took even the most casual of instructions as a rule of law. For instance, just because 1 had written that Richard wore a Rolex watch, the property department hired a genuine, vintage timepiece, worth 5,000, for me to wear onscreen.



The sun glints on the grey sea of the Channel and on the gleaming bodywork of RICHARD'S car, preceded by its escort. Seagulls.



RATCLIFFE drives. Behind are RICHARD and LADY ANNE, she, got up for a royal garden party and looking perfectly composed, yet perfectly unhappy, in her wide- brimmed hat. She swallows a couple of tranquillizers with iced water in a crystal tumbler.

RICHARD, in summer linen and a panama, ignores her.

scene 46. Another silent, pictorial presentation of a barren relationship. Richard and Anne do not speak, not just because I invented the scene, but because they have nothing to say to each other. She takes a pill: he an Abdulla. The biggest surprise when looking at photos and film of the 1930s is the amount of smoking that was fashionable. The smokers in the film, apart from Richard, are Lady Anne, Buckingham, Catesby, King Edward, Queen Elizabeth, the NCO, Ratcliffe, Rivers, Stanley, Tyrell and as many of the extras who cared to.



KING EDWARD and his COURTIERS are hoping a dose of sea air will halt his physical decline.

The large cast-iron summer-house, looking out to sea, has every convenience. There are wicker chairs with comfily padded cushions and tables have the remains of afternoon tea and cucumber sandwiches.

PRINCE JAMES is playing with his pedal-car, while his NANNY looks on.

KING EDWARD in his wheelchair is wrapped in plaid blankets. He is flushed with his efforts to bring old antagonists into agreement, so as to bolster his wife's powerbase. Participating are QUEEN ELIZABETH and RIVERS, HASTINGS and BUCKINGHAM.


Why so; now have I done a good day's work. 
Now friends, continue this united league. 
Rivers and Hastings, take each other's hand.


Hastings, my soul is purged from grudging hate.


Your Majesty, I truly swear the like!


Elizabeth, you are not exempt in this. 
Wife, greet Lord Hastings. Let him kiss your hand.

(graciously proffering her gloved hand to the Prime Minister)

There, Hastings.

HASTINGS kisses the QUEEN'S hand.


Now, princely Buckingham,


Make me happy in this unity.

Everyone looks forward with varying enthusiasm to one of BUCKINGHAM'S elegant speeches.

(to the QUEEN)

Whenever Buckingham does turn his hate 
Upon Your Majesty, God punish me
With hate from those where I expect most love. 
When I have most need to employ a friend, And most assured that he is a friend -

(interrupting, as he sees RICHARD and LADY ANNE approaching)


The newly-weds look straight out of Vogue. LADY ANNE links her arm through RICHARD'S useless one. He needs his other for the cane. He breaks from his wife and strides forward to his brother. He bows to the KING and QUEEN.


Good morning to my sovereign King - and Queen.


Now, Richard, we have done a good day's work:
Made peace of enmity, fair love of hate.


It's death to me to be at enmity:
I hate it and desire all good men's love.

(with absolute commitment; to the QUEEN)

First, Madam, I entreat true peace of you, 
Which I will purchase with my duteous service.

RICHARD goes round the gathering to each in turn, shaking hands, patting elbows, slapping backs.


Of you, my noble, dear Lord Buckingham,

(smiling broadly)

If ever any grudge were lodged between us! Of you. Lord Hastings - and you, dear Rivers - "Who, all without desert, have frowned on me - Indeed, of all!

who ever-so-slightly recoils. Sycophantic approval all round. LADY ANNE feels left out.

(continuing; to the King) 

I do not know that Englishman alive, 
With whom my soul is any jot at odds 
More than the infant that is born tonight.

(aside to CAMERA) 

I thank my God, for my humility.

General relief and approval of this reconciliation.


I wish to God all strifes were settled so. My sovereign Lord, I do beseech Your Majesty To bring your brother Clarence to Your Grace.


Why, Madam, have I offered love for this? 
Who knows not that the gentle Duke is dead?

General consternation and disbelief.


'Who knows not he is dead?' Who knows he is?

Exchange of worried looks.


All-seeing Heaven, what a world is this!

(continuing; to CATESBY) 

Is Clarence dead? The order was reversed.

CATESBY looks bewildered.

(whispering to KING EDWARD) 

But he, poor man, by your first order died 
And that a winged Mercury did bear. 
Some tardy cripple bore the countermand.

(stammers, beginning a severe asthma attack) 

0 God! I fear Thy justice will take hold 
Of me and mine - and mine - and yours for this. 
Rivers help me to my bed. 0, poor Clarence.

'now have I done a good day's work.' This is another reference to events which have happened before the film's story begins. We had to hope that the audience would not want to enquire into the details of the disagreement which King Edward has now patched-up into 'this united league'. The main point is simple - that the King has strengthened his own power-base, in the hope that it might survive him to support Queen Elizabeth and the succession of their eldest son.

We wanted to show the sickly King Edward recuperating away from city life. The Esplanade of the De la Warr Pavilion at Bexhill-on-Sea was designed by Mendelsohn and Chermayeff (l935).

With doctor and nurse in attendance, the royal courtiers have joined the King as he takes the sunshine - lasting evidence of England's hottest summer for two centuries. High above the English Channel, the warm onshore breezes are a little too evident, as they billow frocks and threaten to blow away wide-brimmed hats. 

This was a difficult location to shoot. The scene had to be shot rather flatly across a diagonal of 180 degrees to avoid seeing the hotels and fripperies of modem Bexhill which lay behind the camera, as it faces out to sea. The cupolas on the terrace were temporary additions from the art department.

Kristin Scott Thomas sheltering from the wind and the sun. Only those who bring their own chairs and the actors who are obligingly provided with them by the props department have anywhere to sit between filming. Often one's own chair is occupied. 

PRINCESS ELIZABETH. In the play she remains offstage. Having introduced her into the film, here is an ironic moment preparing for scene 101, when Richard hopes to marry her. 

'Who knows not that the gentle Duke is dead?' Here is an odd acting problem - why, if he is upset by Clarence's death, does Richard allow himself to be so jolly up to this point in the scene? Perhaps because a courtier is duty-bound to reflect the monarch's disposition. King Edward is in celebratory mood, so, therefore, is the ever-polite Richard.


There is near-panic. The NURSE and DOCTOR take professional control and wheel the ailing KING EDWARD back towards the house.

QUEEN ELIZABETH, PRINCESS ELIZABETH and RIVERS chase after KING EDWARD'S wheelchair, up toward the house.

There is near-panic. Scene 47 ends with a reverse-shot, to complete the other 180 degrees and to reveal the exterior of Brighton Pavilion, which in reality is thirty or so miles away along the coast from Bexhill. At the end of two long nights of filming, for scenes 39, 41, 48, 49, 50, the final shot was just fitted in, as the early-morning sun lit up the Pavilion's rear elevation.

SCENES 48-59