Over the years Rupert’s characters have blessed us with a variety of bitchin’ styles. So gents (and ladies!), the next time you’re at the barber, instead of a buzz cut or a high fade, please let the following styles influence you and ask for then by name…
“The Pretty Pucker”
“Talks to Random Cats on the Street” with bangs
“The Dirty Ernie”, in the south you can refer to it as “Satan’s Sidepart”
Yesterday in London I met with Armando Iannucci, director of The Death of Stalin, who was signing copies of the graphic novel which inspired the film, along with co-writers David Schneider and Peter Fellows. I asked how Rupert was cast, saying what a revelation his comedic turn had been. Iannucci explained that someone had mentioned Rupert to him, and, so he’d watched Rupes on several chat shows where he’d been really funny. (Wonder which ones they were…) All three writers warmly praised Rupert’s acting, although Peter jokingly declared that Rupes had actually been drunk. ‘As part of his method acting?’ I asked. ‘No, he was just drunk!’ replied Peter (jokingly, I believe!).
Bad news: the Stateside release is still set to be March 9th.
Rupert Friend steals the show a couple of times, with his drunken Vasily Stalin (son of Joseph) flitting between rage and nonsensicalness on the regular.
The rest is all from Cherry who saw DoS yesterday:
Although he appears in only a handful of scenes, Rupert makes his mark. His Vasily manages to be absurdly arrogant and yet strangely vulnerable, so off his head with excessive vodka consumption that he has only the slenderest grasp on reality. Big sister Svetlana is endearingly protective of him to the end, ‘He is not a bad man. He’s just ill’. His weak attempt at refraining from alcohol under her careful supervision is sadly shortlived.
There are other humanising touches such as when Vasily bursts in on his father’s autopsy, ‘What are you doing to my father, you jackals?’. The poor adjutant who leaves Vasily’s room having endured his speech writing is given a cheery farewell which speaks volumes, ‘You are a real listener. Thank you’. When his speech at his father’s funeral falls horribly flat and is drowned out by the formation flypast, he moves away clutching his piece of paper rather pathetically. It is characteristic of Rupert to insinuate some surprising nuance.
Most of the role is sheer bluster, though, and he portrays this magnificently, with striking turns of phrase, such as the infamous ‘clattering fannies’ reprimand. We’ve heard many of his best lines already in the trailers – and they got big laughs in the cinema, especially the crowd pleaser ‘rude fucking pie’ and ‘testicle’ insults.
It’s not just the sharp delivery of outrageously mixed metaphors and fantastic imagery that contributes to Vasily’s strong impact. Rupert performs some fine physical comedy too, from the first moment when he strides onto the ice, in a ridiculous combination of heavy trenchcoat and iceskates, to the autopsy scene where his comic timing comes to the fore: he masters a seriously dramatic pause to gain attention, before a sudden awkward dash, moving to a brilliantly static prolonged grappling, while the bystanders look on in bewilderment. In one scene he somehow projects spittle on to his own forehead (or is it cgi? – I’d love to know!).
One of my favourite affectations is Vasily’s habit of bitterly ironic negation: ‘Stalin’s son does not fuck up’, ‘You will not take me down’, ‘I will not be squeezed’, ‘I will not be silenced’.
Despite being grossly ineffectual, Vasily perversely bounces back from every humiliation, oblivious to all loss of dignity. Stripped of his gun, he petulantly declares, ‘I’ve got loads anyway’. Extracting a reluctant salute, he states, ‘Let that be a warning’. Rising from being wrestled to the ground, he drapes himself on a chair, saying, ‘I simply don’t care’. Such resilience acquires a kind of charm in the hands of our handsome hero.
Of course the film is very dark, and there are many horrific aspects but I found Rupert’s turn thoroughly delightful. Among the monsters and atrocities, Vasily is a welcome clown. And for certain Quinn followers, there are some especially appealing moments: a white shirt with several buttons undone, a technically ‘shirtless’ scene (although featuring a vest) and even a couple of dogs!