This week sees the eagerly anticipated release of Victoria & Abdul, the charming unknown story of Queen Victoria (played by Judi Dench) and Abdul (Ali Fazal) and their friendship during the Queen’s later years. Such was the power of their relationship that it kept Victoria active during that golden period, much to the displeasure of her son Bertie, played in the film by Eddie Izzard, who would soon be made King.
Izzard, who gives a fantastically diabolical performance in the film, believes that such is Judi Dench’s power and presence as an actor, that she would probably have been a better Queen Victoria than the lady herself, saying:
“I think Judi Dench is a better Queen Victoria than Queen Victoria was. If you look at pictures of her, there must been at times when she was joyous and fun and the light and shade that Judi can bring that and show us that but you can’t see it from the photographs of Victoria, she just looks closed down and unhappy and depressed as hell.”
“If you show the average person a picture of Victoria and they say ‘Who’s that?’ and they would say Judi.”
Aside from his prickly relationship with his mother, Bertie also has daggers for Ali, whose presence and nature are pushing his dreams of becoming King and all of the power it comes with, further and further away and whilst he had great admiration for Fazal off set, on it he kept things just as tense as in the film, saying:
“It was great to watch it from the outside, from the inside I have to say that when we were on the set in a scene I ignored him, I blocked him, there was nothing but empty coming between me and him. I could even say from a character point of view it’s not necessarily racism, even though you could layer that in, it just didn’t matter what color of skin he had, who he was, if he was making Queen Victoria live longer than it stopped him being King.
He wanted to play with the ball and Victoria just kept saying no.”
Victoria & Abdul opens in the UK on September 15th.