Several weeks ago I was asked who I thought should play ‘my’ Duke Richard if there were ever an adaptation of The Order of the White Boar for the screen.
At the time I had no idea, having given the matter very little thought. While writing the book, I had tended to ‘hear’ rather than ‘see’ Richard – and had not thought much beyond the fact that the portraits we have of him don’t resemble a real, live man, and nod more to the Tudor portrayal of him – older than his 32 years, lined of face, even famously having been overpainted to suggest a hunchback. That prompted me to write a scene in The King’s Man hinting at how portraits can’t capture the essence of a person.
The head that was created based on King Richard’s actual skull by Caroline Wilkinson shows a very different man from those in the Tudor-era portraits – younger, less haggard, though with a similar firm jaw and forthright look – but it has been similarly controversial, mostly owing to the way it was finished – especially its oft-changed hair colour.
I’ve been too busy in recent weeks to think any further on the matter of who might play ‘my’ Richard in any dramatization – even if this unlikely event were to occur. But today, out of the blue, I think I may have found him.
Strangely, it’s not so much how he looks – although it helps that he’s no more than 5 foot 6 inches tall, with dark hair and 30 years old, with a so-called ‘baby face’ that suggests he’ll look no older than that for quite some years.
Rather it’s what he says, his attitude.
In an interview in this weekend’s Guardian, among other things, when asked ‘what makes him stick up for the underdog?’, he replied:
‘What’s the point of sticking up for the guy at the top? I’m not an underdog. I’ve been given every opportunity and I’ve really ended up in a place of great privilege. I do believe it’s your duty to try to share that privilege.’
It’s the sort of thing ‘my’ Richard might say – as he works to improve the lot of ordinary people and strives to be a good man and good king.
Have you guessed who it is yet?
Unfortunately it’s one of the most sought-after actors around at the moment. Kit Harington.
I haven’t seen him in Game of Thrones (that I recall – having only once been persuaded by a friend to watch a single episode, my only memories of which were the rising piles – literally – of bodies during a battle and an unpleasant, leering chap who might have made a good Hugh Soulsby if he were a few years younger). Nor have I yet seen Gunpowder. Maybe when I do, I’ll think he neither ‘looks’ nor ‘sounds’ right.
But for the moment I can muse on the idea of King Richard III being portrayed by a man who happens to be a direct descendant of one of his most loyal supporters – William Catesby. That’s quite a thought!
Postscript: I have now watched Gunpowder and my opinion hasn’t changed…. Now where did I see the address of his production company….? Should I pop some copies of the books in the post….?