Lady in the Van

Lady in the Van
Opens 13 November in the UK

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Interviews

There are two fairly recent interviews with Alex on-line.

Theatre.com has an interview with both Alex and Simon Russell Beale talking about their careers. They talk about being associate artists at the National Theatre:

Alex: "And then you can do script meetings as well, which is really good to do, but it’s hard. I can’t judge a script for love or money. I quite like to go, though, because I think it’s good to have an actor’s take on things represented sometimes, but having said that, I’ve not been for ages."

Simon Russell Beale on Alex and Nick Hytner working together:
"There was a very funny moment when Alex did something and said, ‘That feels a bit…’ And Nick went, ‘Yeah!’ And I had no idea what they were talking about, but they knew exactly what each other meant."

On being an expert:
Simon: "You know, Alex is an expert as well."
Alex: "Yes, on theatre history. I write pieces for the Dictionary of National Biography."

On musicals:
Alex: "I would love to have done The Music Man, but I’m too old for it now. But I love to think I could do Sweeney Todd one day, but I don’t know—I keep thinking I have to start work now."

The full interview: Theatre.com



In a Time Out interview he talks to Jane Edwardes about the Alchemist, working with Simon Russell Beale and a year away from the stage:

"He used to say that he was too noisy for the box and he didn’t know how to do it, but after appearing as a surprisingly inscrutable George Bush in ‘Stuff Happens’ at the National, he decided to turn down all theatre offers for a while and waited to see what would happen.
‘For the first few months I thought: Oh God, what have I done? Why didn’t I stay where I’m wanted? But then things did get better, perceived blacklists didn’t exist, and I did some episode television and a thing about the Ballets Russes in which I played Diaghilev. Then a tiny bit in “Babel” in which I got to go in a helicopter with Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett, and Prince Charles in “The Queen” [he gets a definite thumbs-up for this from our own Film section]. I do feel I’ve made advances over the last year and I’ve been quite pleased with some of the things I’ve done. Some of it’s been very seductive and hasn’t really felt like proper work.’

What he hasn’t missed away from the theatre is the build-up to the press night, particularly acute in this instance when anything short of a triumph will be seen as a failure. He and Beale have tried to cope by writing their own reviews: ‘How disappointing to see…’; ‘We were looking forward to this so much, what a shame…’; ‘Expectations were not realised…’"

Full interview: Time Out

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Soon On BBC1

The first episode of "The State Within" will be broadcast on 2 November at 9pm. The latest information can be found on the BBC's "State Within" website: BBC Official Website

Monday, October 23, 2006

Babel

Alex appears in the new film "Babel" starring Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett, playing the part of Ken Clifford. The film was shown at the Cannes Film Festival this spring and will be on general release in the US on 10 November, in the UK on 5 January.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

James Sinclair

The BBC have created a website for their new series "The State Within". The site now has character files, with photographs, including one on James Sinclair, the character played by Alex:
James Sinclair

James Sinclair is the ex-ambassador to Tyrgyztan and he is given the following profile:

An out-spoken critic of President Usman and the human rights abuse he encountered in Tyrgyztan. After his wife Saida's death, became even more vociferously opposed to Usman. As a result he was recalled and subsequently fired from the job of ambassador. Seen an embarrassment to the UK Government, who support Usman and have many strategic and commercial interests in the country. Now determined to turn Western public opinion against Usman. And to force both the UK and US administrations into withdrawing their support for him.

"The State Within" is a six-part series to be shown this November on BBC One.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

The Queen in Canada

The Queen has opened in Canada and the review of Canadian press is good to Alex:

"And another: a constantly wincing Prince Charles, played brilliantly by Alex Jennings, reminding the Queen as she continues to dig in her heels that Diana was a magnificent mother unafraid to show love and affection to her boys, a clear rebuke of Elizabeth's own mothering skills. Perhaps a flight of fancy in a film that is otherwise said to be remarkably factual - Frears says the Queen's best friend saw the movie and gave it the thumbs-up - it's a painful scene to watch as Elizabeth is clearly stung by the comment."

Full review:
CTV.ca

Monday, October 09, 2006

Spooks

Alex played a part in the 4th episode of the 5th season of "Spooks", broadcast on 2 October. He played the part of James Allan. More information, and a small clip, can be found on the official BBC website:
Spooks

Friday, October 06, 2006

More Queen and Alchemist

The reviews for "The Queen" still keep coming in:

From the Washington Post:
"And as Prince Charles, Alex Jennings may not be a dead ringer but he's memorable as a benevolent manipulator, moved by Diana's death yet resolved to use it to curry favor with his future subjects."

Full review: Washington Post

From the Villager:
"The royal family, except for the ineffectual, sly, and emotionally vulnerable Prince Charles (Alex Jennings in an understated, nuanced performance), is unwilling to defer to the people’s treatment of Diana as a popular icon, and refuses to hold a public funeral."

Full review: The Villager

And one more for the Alchemist from London SE1:
"Both Alex Jennings and Simon Russell Beale speak their somewhat grandiose lines with obvious delight and play their con-man roles as broadly as possible. However, Beale's 'cor blimey' accent, interspersed with the 'feigned' speaking voice of his alter ego, the Captain tends to waver. An air of artificiality may have made the Captain's lines even more amusing and after a time, Beale's exaggerated mockney accent tended to grate. In some of his more ridiculous scenes, it almost seemed as though he'd escaped from an Igor (you rang?) audition. Such over the top posturing was highly comical, especially from a renowned actor like Beale, and gave strong indications of his comedic prowess, but nonetheless seemed out of place here.

Jennings' fares better with his attempt at the notoriously difficult London working class accent. However, his 'stereotypes on parade,' characterizations, which range from a California hippy dippy queen, through a ranting and raving Scotsman to all knowing, new age alchemist lose their novelty somewhat as the performance goes on. Only Lesley Manville, in her role as prostitute Dol Common acts with real conviction within the context of her role, right down to her ostrich featured heels and the ladders in her tarty black stockings. Manville somehow manages to keep the feel of her lines referenced with the time they were written, whilst dressed in the sixties toned fashions assigned to her character, and assuming contemporary mannerisms to good comic effect. Despite all the modern trappings, the only thing missing is a strategically placed beauty spot. It is as if the actress had been swept into the present day from the seventeenth century unflinching, whilst batting her long eyelashes.

However, despite the overall unevenness of their performances, it is still great fun to watch Alex Jennings and Simon Russell Beale, who've never acted together before, savour their ferocious bantering, like a couple of great cats hissing at one another across the stage."

Full review: London SE1

Thursday, October 05, 2006

State Within

Alex will appear in a new BBC conspiracy thriller this autumn. He will play the part of James Sinclair. From the BBC press release:

"State Within" is due to broadcast on BBC ONE later this year. The new six-part series takes place over 17 days in the life of the British Ambassador to the USA. Ambassador to Washington is the pinnacle of success in the Foreign Office and only the brightest and best succeed to this post. However, Mark Brydon (Jason Isaacs) soon finds he is tested to the limits of his foreign diplomacy skills as he grapples with a world of tangled relationships and conflicting interests following a major diplomatic incident."

The IMDb gives the release date as 1 November 2006. The series was filmed in Canada earlier this year.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

And There's More

"Jennings' performance is superb, stretching beyond caricature. No matter that Charles' ex-wife had infuriated and frustrated him: The guarded pain he shows upon learning of her death envelops all of those complicated feelings, as well as the reality that she's the mother of his children."

Full review: salon.com

"The most interesting characterization is Prince Charles. Seen here as a deviously manipulative wimp, fearful of his mother and beholden to his own selfish concerns, Charles superficially cares about the death of his ex, but is more paranoid that others will want to shoot him as an act of retaliation for his martial woes. Actor Alex Jennings really has his work cut out for him with this iconic role, yet he digs in there bravely to portray Charles's less than noble intentions, along with inhabiting his pressed speaking style and tightly wound face."

Full review: axcessnews

Monday, October 02, 2006

Mixed Messages

Matt Wolf at The International Herald Tribune prefers Russell Beale to Alex in "The Alchemist", and isn't that keen:

"But painful though it is say, the show turns out to be a triumph for Russell Beale rather more than it is for Jennings, who perhaps has the disadvantage of not having acted Jonson's tricky language on the imposing Olivier stage."

"In T-shirt and suspenders one minute, Russell Beale's Face is all slicked-back officiousness the next, at another point appearing in goggles only to be cradled by Jennings's Subtle (note the character names) as if he were an untamed dog. Jennings's accents - a cringemaking American one included - somewhat hamper a play about artifice that, paradoxically, has to look easefully managed. Betray the effort involved, as is the case here, and you have a momentous pairing that isn't quite the expected exercise in mirth."

Review: International Herald Tribune


And more reviews for "The Queen":

"Along with the imperiously indignant Cromwell, the supporting cast is brilliantly rounded out by Alex Jennings as a skittish Prince Charles, Helen McCrory as Blair’s wily wife, Roger Allam as the queen’s diligent aide and Sylvia Syms as the queen mother, who is often hilarious in her regal dismissiveness of the outside world." (David Germain)
Review: NBC

But the film also has some wonderful performances from Alex Jennings (who's Prince Charles is surprisingly weak and sympathetic -- who knew the man was fearing for his life that week?) (Erik Davis)
Review: Cinematical

Andrew Stuttaford in the New York Sun describes Alex's performances as "splendidly twitchy".
Review: New York Sun

USA today doesn't have a review but a different story:

Prince's pals perturbed by portrayal
The Queen screenwriter Peter Morgan says friends of Prince Charles are not pleased with his portrayal in the movie. In it, Charles (Alex Jennings) is portrayed as trying to please his mother, Queen Elizabeth (Helen Mirren), after the death of his ex-wife, Diana, while working behind the scenes with Prime Minister Tony Blair to urge the queen to publicly express her grief. Queen opens the New York Film Festival Friday and expands in October.
USA Today