Olympics inspire list of Queen Elizabeth II movies
Tuesday, July 31, 2012
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Queen Elizabeth II became an unofficial Bond girl over the weekend after parachuting out of a helicopter with Daniel Craig during the lavish opening ceremony of the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.
Well, not really. It was all a bit of movie trickery, courtesy of director Danny Boyle, who oversaw the Friday night spectacle. But the real-life queen did take part in a scene full of drama and action alongside Craig, who escorted her from Buckingham Palace in classic, tuxedo-clad style in character as James Bond. It was an unexpectedly sly side of the normally reserved royal, who celebrated her Diamond Jubilee last month to mark her 60 years on the throne.
Queen Elizabeth II has been portrayed only a few times in major films, but they've been indelible. So start working on your curtsey 'cause here we go:
— "The Queen" (2006): Helen Mirren was positively withering in a performance that earned her a well-deserved Academy Award for best actress. Director Stephen Frears' film depicts the week after Princess Diana's death, and how the royal family responded to it — or rather, how they tried to ignore it. Mirren gave a subtle, stinging and eventually sympathetic portrayal of Queen Elizabeth II during this tumultuous time, showing real vulnerability as the queen struggled to find the right tone. And Peter Morgan's wry, observant script provided an intimate glimpse inside this rarefied realm.
— "The King's Speech" (2010): The winner of four Oscars including best picture features Queen Elizabeth II as a little girl, when she was still a princess and went by the nickname Lilibet. The film shows the future queen (portrayed by Freya Wilson), the daughter of King George VI (Oscar-winner Colin Firth), in a few glimpses at home during the 1930s. Britain is about to enter World War II and Bertie, as the king was known, is about to give the biggest speech of his life, which the lifelong stutterer pulls off with the help of his irrepressible therapist and friend, played by Geoffrey Rush. The presence of Elizabeth and her sister helps humanize Bertie and gives him strength during the challenging time.
— "The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad!" (1988): Queen Elizabeth II is a crucial figure in this first film in the "Naked Gun" series of spoofs. She's the target of an assassination attempt, and the intrepid Lt. Frank Drebin (the late, great Leslie Nielsen) must foil this deadly plot at a baseball game between the Angels and Mariners (which, weirdly, is being played at Dodger Stadium). The Queen (played by Jeannette Charles) enjoys American culture by throwing out the first pitch and even taking part in The Wave. But once Reggie Jackson (who's been programmed to kill her) starts making his way robotically over to her box, gun in hand, it's up to Frank to save the day.
— "Austin Powers in Goldmember" (2002): Jeannette Charles' resemblance to Elizabeth II has allowed her to carve out an unexpected niche career as an actress: She's played the monarch repeatedly over the past four decades. Besides the first "Naked Gun" movie, Charles also played the queen in the third and final "Austin Powers" movie, the one in which Austin travels back to 1975 and meets up with old flame Foxxy Cleopatra (Beyonce Knowles). But before that, to reward Austin for finally nabbing Dr. Evil and Mini-Me, the queen makes him a knight. "Your father must be very proud," she says. But Austin is disappointed to discover that the famous Nigel Powers isn't there for his son's big day.
— "National Lampoon's European Vacation" (1985): Here's Charles again in this slapsticky, inferior sequel to the 1983 hit "National Lampoon's Vacation." The Griswolds are, naturally, the ugly Americans wherever they go. But Ellen (Beverly D'Angelo) imagines greater things for the family during a dream sequence in which a bored, yawning Queen Elizabeth II suddenly brightens up when she sees her and Clark (Chevy Chase) in a reception line. It's hugs and air kisses all around — then she wakes up.
Think of any other examples? Share them with AP Movie Critic Christy Lemire through Twitter: http://twitter.com/christylemire.
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