Central London muddied up for The King’s Speech location filming
Taking the shine off modern-day London was one of the bigger issues faced by the production team on The King’s Speech. The story’s set during the 1930s when the city looked very different from the modern-day reality and Director Tom Hooper was keen to make it look real.
Jamie Lengyel, one of the film’s Location Managers, said: “Making London look crappy was one of the major issues. We painted down many of the locations, such as Kennington (doubling Kensington) and Harley Street, quite heavily to make them more accurate to the period. They were made to look grimy and then we used smoke effects to make the atmosphere even more authentic. We went to a lot of effort to not compromise on the look of London.”
The film shot in the winter of 2009-10 throughout central London, with many locations doubling for those that appear in the film.
As a story focussing on members of the Royal Family many of the actual places were unavailable. Lancaster House on Pall Mall and Englefield House near Reading doubled for Buckingham Palace.
Lengvel said: “The Royal Family is a private institution that doesn’t allow drama filmed around them, so we had to find alternatives. Lancaster House was used for the film’s climax. It’s popular as it has impressive state rooms. The film’s palace walk-through took these in, showing the grandeur of the place.”
When filming started the pressure was on to get everything in a short space of time. Shooting days couldn’t run over-schedule as the team had to make way for other events that were booked in. There was also the issue of talent availability, with star Helena Bonham Carter working on Harry Potter at the same time.
Lengvel concluded: “The talent comes first. You have the dates when they’re available, and if the ideal location isn’t available on that day, you have to find somewhere else.”
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