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The Happy Prince’ Looks To Oscar Wilde’s Final Years

Actor-writer-director Rupert Everett will be in San Diego this Saturday Oct. 20

Photo credit: Sony Pictures Classics

Rupert Everett plays playwright and poet Oscar Wilde in "The Happy Prince."

GUESTS:

Rupert Everett, "The Happy Prince" actor/writer/director

Beth Accomando, KPBS arts reporter

Transcript

Companion viewing

"The Picture of Dorian Gray" (1945)

"The Importance of Being Earnest" (1952)

"An Ideal Husband" (1999 and starring Rupert Everett)

Actor Rupert Everett makes his feature directing debut with "The Happy Prince," which looks to Oscar Wilde's final years in exile.

In 1895 Oscar Wilde was sentenced to two years hard labor for “gross indecency” with other men (an offense for which he has been posthumously pardoned). Five years after his release from prison he would die in poverty and disgraced exile in Paris. These are the years that Everett decides to focus on in his film "The Happy Prince." It's a part of Wilde's life that most films avoid.

This has been a passion project for Everett who writes, directs and stars in the film. He has played Wilde on stage and now he commits to film a performance that brilliantly captures the poignant ruin of this once elegant wit.

Everett conveys what Wilde described as the "exquisite torture" of Queen Victoria's punishment, which included public humiliation that Wilde might have found more painful than the hard labor.

But Everett doesn't shy away from being critical of Wilde, showing that Wilde often dismissed his true friends in favor of false ones that he was in love or perhaps just infatuated with, and he also behaved in ways that were decidedly self-destructive.

Everett is also critical of the hypocrisy of English high society that was happy to embrace Wilde and his deliciously witty plays and turn a blind eye to his private life so long as he kept it private. But they were quick to turn on him and eager to forget about him.

Everett excels in the role and proves to be an effective writer and director who knows his subject well and knows how he wants to portray Wilde's final years.

Everett was in San Diego to talk about his passion project on Oct. 20 at a screening at the Angelika Film Center at Carmel Mountain and then one at Landmark's Hillcrest Cinemas.

"The Happy Prince" screens through Nov. 8 at Digital Gym Cinema.

Actor Rupert Everett makes his feature directing debut with "The Happy Prince," which looks to Oscar Wilde's final years in exile. Everett will be in San Diego on Oct. 20.

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