Tuesday, January 18, 2011

King George & The Impostor Complex

I highly recommend you see “The King’s Speech.” Colin Firth, as King George, battles a painful upbringing overshadowed by a charismatic brother, an inhibiting stammer and his belief that he wasn’t fit to be King. He dreaded public speaking. Geoffrey Rush plays Lionel Logue, an uncredentialed speech therapist/coach with unorthodox methods who is able to help “Bertie” manage his fears and speak to his nation on the eve of war. Firth’s sister is a speech therapist and supplied the exercises used in the film.

The 73 yr old author of the screenplay, David Seidler, was a stutterer himself and was inspired by the King’s determination to overcome his affliction. The royal family was embarrassed and hid any mention of a therapist but Seidler was able to locate Logue’s son. He was given access to notes Logue had recorded of his sessions with the King. However, Seidler promised Elizabeth, the Queen Mum (Helena Bonham Carter) that he wouldn’t publish the story until her death and she didn’t pass until 2002 at 102 years.

“Stutterers,” Seidler explains, “grow up feeling they have no voice, that they can’t be heard: they see in the eyes of their pained listeners that they have no right to speak. I was overwhelmed,” he said, “when the audience applauded at the end of the movie. Because for the first time ever, the penny dropped and I felt I had a voice and had been heard.”

It might surprise you or be reassuring to learn that even Colin Firth admits, “I’ve never stuttered, but I’ve had the same drowning feeling from stage fright. When I forget my lines, I forget who I am, where I am. It feels like an eternity until I come back.” This amazing actor has not let his fears destroy his performance but says he has found he can turn his tension into a positive thing.

We’ll blog more next month about fears and ways to challenge the feeling of being a fraud. Have you ever felt you were an impostor?
After you’ve seen “The King’s Speech”, check out the site below to hear King George making the actual speech from the film on the radio.


Jan D'Arcy


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