“I thought King Edward VIII was very punk rock,” she said, explaining how a salty anarchist anthem by the English punk band The Sex Pistols ended up on the soundtrack for her second directorial work, starring British actors James D’Arcy and Andrea Riseborough.
The band’s 1977 single God Save the Queen attacked Britons’ social conformity and deference to the Crown.
“I thought he (King Edward VIII) was quite rebellious and cutting edge in his point of view about life and about how to run the empire and using the Sex Pistols was a perfect marriage,” Madonna said.
In Venice, where the film premiere earlier this month, the Queen of Pop said there were “elements of myself” in the film, and said she could sympathise with Wallis as an outsider, an American living in London.
The controversial passion between the king and extravagant socialite Simpson is told through the eyes of a lonely modern-day New Yorker, desperately seeking the fairytale happy ending that she believes the famous couple had.
At the Toronto International Film Festival, Madonna added that Wallis “was and is a very provocative character.
“She is also a mysterious and enigmatic creature, not conventionally beautiful, not young, twice divorced, not anything fabulous about her background and somehow she managed to capture the heart of the man who at the time held the most important position in the world.
“That story intrigued me immensely and I wanted to understand it.”
“But also I was interested in the concept of the cult of celebrity which we are all consumed with now, and then.”
Polish classical composer Abel Korzeniowski set up the movie’s haunting score.
He tried to explain to reporters that Madonna had urged him to “not try to be talented.” Madonna interrupted, “No, I said: ‘Don’t over-think it.’ I always wanted you to be talented.”
The clash of his classical and Madonna’s pop backgrounds, he continued, resulted in “the most interesting thing.”
“I found myself learning very interesting things (from Madonna) about music, which helped me in my classical thinking,” Korzeniowski added.
During filming, it was also revealed that Madonna and the cast held sing-a-longs “to pass the time” during rainy days when shooting was interrupted.
In Toronto, Madonna serenaded journalists with a few impromptu lyrics they had sung together: “We’re making a movie, isn’t it groovy, welcome to my house,” — not a Billboard hit, for sure.
But Madonna has already conquered the music industry, and is more focused on filmmaking now.
W.E. is scheduled for wide release in December at the peak of the pre-Oscar season. “I’m keeping my legs and fingers crossed” for a nod, she quipped.
Madonna said she said she doesn’t mind any criticism of her filmmaking abilities, so long as it is directed at her movie and not at herself.
The pop star told reporters she had to earn her reputation as a musician and she expected to do the same as a film director.
“I had the same kind of pressure when I began my music career,” Madonna told reporters. “I was nervous, and I didn’t know what to expect, and people didn’t know what to expect.”
The film has been characterised by critics as visually stunning, but lacking in focus and burdened by weak performances.
“I can tell when people are reviewing my film and when they’re reviewing me personally,” Madonna said when asked whether she cared about what critics thought. “So when they stick to the film, then I do care.”
Britain’s The Guardian newspaper was the harshest among the critics, giving the film just one star out five, while the Daily Telegraph gave a more positive three star review.
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