February 27, 2011

David Seidler ’59 Wins Oscar for The King’s Speech

Print More

After overcoming his own childhood stutter, David Seidler ’59 gave a moving acceptance speech for the Best Original Screenplay at the 83rd Academy Awards. Seidler was honored Sunday at the Oscars for writing The King’s Speech, a period drama chronicling King George VI’s ascension to the throne of England and his struggle to overcome a stutter in the face of World War II.

According to Newsweek, Seidler had long wanted to make The King’s Speech. Seidler said he was inspired to overcome his own stutter by King George, portrayed by Colin Firth in the film.

Seidler started researching the project in the 1970s, when a friend in London helped him locate Valentine Logue, the only surviving son of Lionel Logue, King George’s speech therapist.

The younger Logue offered Seidler access to his father’s notebooks on one condition:  approval from the Queen Mother, George’s widow. However, the Queen refused, arguing that the story was too painful to revisit during her lifetime. Seidler did not access the notebooks until after the Queen’s death in 2002, Newsweek reported.

While he was conducting research for The King’s Speech, Seidler discovered that his own uncle, also named David, was treated by L. Logue, portrayed in the film by Geoffrey Rush. According to Newsweek, after reading Seidler’s script, his uncle said, “Your grandfather wanted me to be treated by the King’s speech therapist. That Australian gangster! It was absolute nonsense! All he wanted to do was make me talk about my childhood and parents. Absolute nonsense!”

This reveals the therapist’s psychoanalytical roots, which is the core of the relationship between the two main men in the movie. The sessions between L. Logue and King George are the heart of the movie and are its main source of humor and intelligence.

At 73, Seidler is the oldest person in the history of the Academy Awards to win this award, as he announced in his acceptance speech.

According to The New York Times, Seidler now plans to move his story to the stage, with a new script for the theatrical debut of The King’s Speech.

“It will be on the West End of London in the fall, and Adrian Noble is directing it,” Seidler said.

In addition to Seidler’s award, The King’s Speech also received statues for Best Director, Best Actor and Best Picture.

Original Author: Peter Jacobs