Roland Emmerich is known for his big-budget, effects-laden, action films. ANONYMOUS, about the real author of Shakespeare’s works, seems like a departure for him, but the political intrigues of Elizabeth I’s court provide plenty of action, and recreating Elizabethan London is almost as complicated as blowing up Yellowstone Park was in 2012. When I spoke to the director on September 29, 2011, we talked about the pleasure for him as a storyteller to make a film where words are so important, as well as where he stands on the authorship question, and why the subterfuge inherent in the politics of that time is not so very different from politics today.
ANONYMOUS is a roiling tale of political intrigue, personal passions, and a cogent case made for Shakespeare’s works having been written by someone else. Specifically, Edward de Vere, the Earl of Oxford, a nobleman with a poet’s heart who finds himself fostered by the leading Puritan family of Elizabethan England, a family who disapproves of such artistic pursuits. De Vere is also involved in a complicated relationship with Glorianna herself, Elizabeth the First., the not-so Virgin Queen. The film was written by John Orlaff and stars Rhys Ifans, Vanessa Redgrave, Joely Richardson, Rafe Spall, David Thewliss, Sebastian Armesto, Jaimie Campbell Bower, Edward Hogg, and Derek Jacobi. Emmerich’s previous work includes INDEPENDENCE DAY, THE DAY AFTER TOMORROW, and 2012