Rachel Weisz is no stranger to filmmaker Yorgos Lanthimos’ unique charms and tastes, starring in his English-language debut “The Lobster” alongside a transformed Colin Farrell to deliver one of the decade’s most unexpected, weird, funny, and just plain lovely romances. Weisz is re-teaming with Lanthimos on his next offering, “The Favourite,” a historical feature that, on paper, sounds decidedly unlike the Greek filmmaker’s previous efforts, often referred to as part of the so-called Greek Weird Wave.
Officially described as a “bawdy, acerbic tale of royal intrigue, passion, envy, and betrayal,” Lanthimos’ latest film is set in 18th century England during the court of Queen Anne (played by Colman). Weisz plays Sarah Churchill, Duchess of Marlborough and confidante, advisor, best friend, and secret lover to the Queen. Their long-standing relationship is threatened when Sarah’s younger cousin Abigail (played by Emma Stone) comes to court, leading to a battle royale between the pair for the Queen’s affections (and the power that comes with them).
But Weisz said in an interview that “The Favourite” is still pure Lanthimos — which fans will find satisfying in the wake of the Cannes debut for his “The Killing of a Sacred Deer,” another pitch black, but often weirdly funny, look at human nature.
“I would say it’s a comedy. I think he would say it’s a comedy,” Weisz said during a recent interview. “It’s funny. It’s different in that it’s not an imagined world, almost all of it really happened. There are some things that are dreamt up, but it’s English history, so it’s not just a Yorgosian dystopia or fairy tale.”
Weisz’s character also has more agency than has been previously let on, as she explained, “My character is basically running the country because the queen is ill. To be frank, she’s pretty useless at running the country. She’s a great best friend, but not a very good queen. So I am running the country from behind the scenes.”
She also clarified the dynamics of the film’s three leading ladies, placing it in that same context as Hollywood classic “All About Eve.”
“This young girl comes to court, called Abigail Marsham, who really existed,” Weisz said. “She manages to become the queen’s favorite and also lover. And there’s an intense rivalry between my character and her, a little bit like ‘All About Eve’ in that way. My character is usurped by a younger suitor, for the role of the favorite.”
Still, Weisz is clear that “The Favourite” will be very much in line with Lanthimos’ other efforts, including “Dogtooth” and “Alps.” That’s what she likes about him, anyway.
“There’s no one like him, he gets you into a certain tone,” Weisz said. “He’s very unique, very unique.”
Fox Searchlight, Film4, and Waypoint Entertainment partnered for the production, and Fox Searchlight Pictures will release the film. The screenplay is by Tony McNamara and Deborah Davis. The cast includes Nicholas Hoult (“Mad Max: Fury Road”), Mark Gatiss (“Sherlock”), and Joe Alwyn (“Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk”).
“The Favourite” is expected sometime in 2018. Weisz will next be seen in this week’s Gothic romance, “My Cousin Rachel.”