This year sees the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare’s death. It also sees Sir Ian McKellen adding another role to his CV…that of a bus tour guide. Now before you start scratching your heads and exclaiming ‘Confusion now hath made his masterpiece’ (that’s Shakespeare btw), the two are linked. McKellen will be helping audiences get on board with Shakespeare by giving guided bus tours around the London locations used to film his 1995 version of Richard III.
The film, directed by Richard Loncraine, was set in an alternative fascist 1930s England. Locations included St Pancras station, Battersea Power Station and the building that is now Tate Modern (which was a prison in the film). McKellen, at the BFI on Monday, stated that “I’ve always thought it might be fun to take a bus tour around the sites of Richard III. You would watch snippets of the film sitting in the coach and then arrive at the actual location and see it.”
A screening of Richard III, with an on-stage post-film discussion, will be released across UK cinemas on 28 April. The 1995 film’s star-studded cast included Dame Maggie Smith, Annette Bening, Jim Broadbent, Dame Kristen Scott Thomas, Robert Downey Jr and Dominic West. On this subject (which we are just as impressed as you are), Sir Ian said “What a cast we had! Half of Downton Abbey is in it. I was thrilled when Maggie, who is only a little bit older than me, agreed to play my mother.”
The BFI said the project is the “most extensive film programme ever undertaken”, with an international tour that will take 18 films to 110 countries – with one screening at an Iraqi refugee camp. They have also never done bus tours before…
The festival runs from March 31st to May 31st. Watch this space!