BAZ BAMIGBOYE: After his triumph as Charles in The Crown...why Josh O'Connor is ...

BAZ BAMIGBOYE: After his triumph as Charles in The Crown...why Josh O'Connor is ...
BAZ BAMIGBOYE: After his triumph as Charles in The Crown...why Josh O'Connor is ...

Josh O'Connor, who has won widespread acclaim for his portrayal of the Prince of Wales in The Crown, said there was a 'special beauty' about the love scenes in his new film, Mothering Sunday, because they were shot during the pandemic, at a time when simply touching another person felt illicit.

The actor, who has just been nominated for an Emmy award for his Charles, appears alongside Odessa Young (a blazing new screen artist) in Mothering Sunday.

In the picture, set six years after the Great War, he plays Paul Sheringham, a young man racked with survivor's guilt and the trauma of losing siblings and friends on the battlefield.

Young, a 23-year-old Australian based in Brooklyn, plays Jane, a housemaid — who goes on to become a literary giant — with whom Paul embarks on a passionate affair, while engaged to another woman.

Josh O'Connor, who has won widespread acclaim for his portrayal of the Prince of Wales in The Crown, said there was a 'special beauty' about the love scenes in his new film, Mothering Sunday, because they were shot during the pandemic, at a time when simply touching another person felt illicit

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Josh O'Connor, who has won widespread acclaim for his portrayal of the Prince of Wales in The Crown, said there was a 'special beauty' about the love scenes in his new film, Mothering Sunday, because they were shot during the pandemic, at a time when simply touching another person felt illicit

The actor, who has just been nominated for an Emmy award for his Charles, appears alongside Odessa Young (a blazing new screen artist) in Mothering Sunday

The actor, who has just been nominated for an Emmy award for his Charles, appears alongside Odessa Young (a blazing new screen artist) in Mothering Sunday

'He can be totally naked physically, but also emotionally, with Jane; vulnerable in a way he can't be with anyone else,' the 31-year-old told me at a penthouse apartment in Cannes, a stone's throw from where the picture premiered the night before.

The safety protocols on the film, directed by Eva Husson and produced by Elizabeth Karlsen and Stephen Woolley, were stringent. 

'You're tested and they go: 'You've got three hours . . . let's go! Let's do a sex scene'.'

O'Connor said one of the worst aspects of Covid was the fact that touching — a hug, a kiss — became verboten. 

'So the beauty of being able to touch and be intimate was so special for the film — and for us, the actors. I really love those scenes.'

Unusually for nowadays, there was no 'intimacy advisor'. O'Connor, Young and director Husson mapped out the scenes themselves. 

O'Connor said one of the worst aspects of Covid was the fact that touching ¿ a hug, a kiss ¿ became verboten

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O'Connor said one of the worst aspects of Covid was the fact that touching — a hug, a kiss — became verboten

The safety protocols on the film, directed by Eva Husson and produced by Elizabeth Karlsen and Stephen Woolley, were stringent. Above: Sope Dirisu as Donald (left) and Young as Jane

The safety protocols on the film, directed by Eva Husson and produced by Elizabeth Karlsen and Stephen Woolley, were stringent. Above: Sope Dirisu as Donald (left) and Young as Jane

Ms Young's character is seen with Colin Firth as Mr Niven, as O'Connor sits behind

Ms Young's character is seen with Colin Firth as Mr Niven, as O'Connor sits behind

Olivia Colman also stars in the film, as  Mrs. Niven (pictured above with Young's Jane Fairchild

Olivia Colman also stars in the film, as  Mrs. Niven (pictured above with Young's Jane Fairchild

'There's not that much sex,' he said. 'It's either post coital, or there's a lot of nudity . . . with them just existing, naked, in the same space, which is really sad and vulnerable.'

There's not much dialogue in those scenes; and yet they are tremendously eloquent.

Lest you think, by the way, that O'Connor only plays posh young men, he appears as a former drug addict, opposite Letitia Wright, in another film, Aisha, being sold to distributors in Cannes.

The actor will soon begin working on the first of three pictures he'll shoot in North America over the next 12 months — two of them in New York. 

Another project involves Francis Lee, who directed O'Connor's breakthrough film God's Own Country. 

O'Connor's portrayal of a young Prince Charles in The Crown has received plaudits

O'Connor's portrayal of a young Prince Charles in The Crown has received plaudits

Another project involves Francis Lee, who directed O'Connor's breakthrough film God's Own Country

Another project involves Francis Lee, who directed O'Connor's breakthrough film God's Own Country

Lee has written the screenplay for the untitled film, about which O'Connor would say little, apart from the fact that it's seasonal, and 'requires a lot of snow'.

He's now left Cannes, bound for a break in Mexico before filming in the U.S. and a possible premiere at the Telluride Film Festival for Mothering Sunday.

While in Mexico, he told me he plans to start writing his first film, which he's developing with the British Film Institute.

It's inspired by, but not about, his grandmother, to whom he was close. Having not seen her during lockdown, apart from on Zoom, he was allowed to see her a few weeks ago, through a window at her care home. She died two days later.

'She was really magic; a special person,' he said.

Yes I Cannes, says Little Miss Sunshine 

The capacity audience inside the Grand Theatre Lumiere in Cannes stirred in anticipation as they watched Matt Damon's progress on the red carpet outside on a giant screen.

Accompanied by Camille Cottin (the breakout star of French comedy-drama Call My Agent!) and other cast members of his new movie Stillwater, Damon headed slowly up the steps and into the auditorium.

The buzz, though, was all along the lines of: Who is that blonde goddess in the emerald green gown?

People (like me) did a double take when they realised it was Abigail Breslin, Oscar nominated — at the age of nine — for her role as Olive, the girl who wanted to be a junior beauty pageant queen, in Little Miss Sunshine. (I remembered seeing her when it opened at the 2006 Sundance Film Festival).

In Stillwater Breslin plays Allison, a French-language student from Oklahoma, who was studying in Marseille but is now in jail for murdering her girlfriend — though she insists she's innocent.

At the Grand Theatre Lumiere in Cannes, as cast members of new movie Stillwater headed up the steps into the auditorium, the buzz was all along the lines of: Who is that blonde goddess in the emerald green gown? People (like me) did a double take when they realised it was Abigail Breslin

At the Grand Theatre Lumiere in Cannes, as cast members of new movie Stillwater headed up the steps into the auditorium, the buzz was all along the lines of: Who is that blonde goddess in the emerald green gown? People (like me) did a double take when they realised it was Abigail Breslin

Damon plays Bill, her bull-in-a-china-shop father; a man way out of his depth as he takes on the local judicial authorities, in an attempt to free his daughter. 

Damon is superb. So is Cottin —and Lilou Siauvaud, who plays her daughter.

But my eye kept being drawn to Breslin. In one particular scene she's on a day release from jail.

She and her dad are walking along Marseille's rocky shoreline. And then Allison begins to speak of how humiliated and hurt she felt during the intense relationship she had with the dead young woman.

I keep replaying that moment in my head, because Breslin is breathtaking. 

When I told her this, she laughed and said the reason she's emotional in the shot isn't just because of director Tom McCarthy's visceral screenplay.

Breslin was Oscar nominated ¿ at the age of nine ¿ for her role as Olive, the girl who wanted to be a junior beauty pageant queen, in Little Miss Sunshine

Breslin was Oscar nominated — at the age of nine — for her role as Olive, the girl who wanted to be a junior beauty pageant queen, in Little Miss Sunshine

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