The HBO original movie, Longford, stars Jim Broadbent at Lord Longford in this story based on real events. The film spans 32 years in the life of Lord Longford who was a controversial person in British history. Longford believed that everyone could be forgiven for their actions. But his life changed when he was confronted by Myra Hindley, an accomplice in the infamous "children murders" - an horrific crime in British history. It was at this time all his beliefs were tested.
Recently Mr. Broadbent sat down to talk about the movie, his role, and this chapter in the history of Great Britain.
They refer to the character early as having a very almost child-like quality, and you really portray that, a guy who seems to be upbeat and chuckling a lot early on. How hard was it to get into that kind of an interesting kind of almost dichotomy of the personality?
Jim Broadbent: Well, I didn't really analyze it at the time. But what seems to be my approach is to get [and] find out the external tics and manifestations of his character, and there's an awful lot to chew on with Frank Longford. He was an extremely eccentric man, and there's a lot of physical things and vocal things I could get into, and looking at a lot of television footage and listening to radio interviews he had done and reading books about him and reading what he had written. So I've sort of developed the physical side of the character and the vocal side of the character first. And then from that, sort of the character itself, his psychology seems to fall into place, particularly when the writing is so brilliant and it's all there.
It's always very daunting taking on a character like that. And for my scenes, I, in a way, tried to impersonate him, but I wasn't sure that I was getting anywhere close until we were in one of the prisons we visited for filming purposes. One of the wardens who had no great fondness for Frank Longford, having witnessed him visiting her many times over the years -- one of the wardens was heard to say, "Oh, God, I thought we'd gotten rid of that bastard." So I thought I must be getting quite close.
Did you remember this case? Did you know about it through history? How well remembered is it in Britain?
Jim Broadbent: I can remember it really well. I mean it was such a big headline case, and I think it must have been because it was a young blonde woman involved, it became huge headlines from the word go.
How much resonance does this case have today in the UK? Is it the British equivalent of a Jeffrey Dahmer case?
Jim Broadbent: Absolutely, yeah.
Could you talk a little bit about what qualities Peter Morgan's scripts (screenwriter and executive producer of Longford) have that make him so good at giving actors real-life people to play that they don't have to do parodies of or imitations of, that they can find the real part and truth in?
Jim Broadbent: The first thing, I mean when Peter asked me if I'd be prepared to play him and I obviously was and started looking at the available footage and listening to the tapes and getting a feel of the man. And when the script arrived, there was absolutely not one word that didn't seem to be coming straight out of Frank Longford's mouth. I mean the rhythm of it, the tempo of it, what he was saying and how he was saying it was entirely consistent with everything that I had read and listened to and watched myself. That's the first thing. And then, what Peter's writing really did was just told the whole story and presented all the arguments in a brilliantly clear way.
Longford is currently airing on HBO.