The Duke: Helen Mirren and Jim Broadbent talk 'tough' characters and learning the Geordie accent

24 February 2022, 15:02

By Sian Moore

Jim Broadbent and Helen Mirren sat down with Smooth's Angie Greaves ahead of the release of the new comedy-drama 'The Duke'.

Based on a true story set in the 1960s, The Duke follows the tale of the 60-year-old taxi driver who stole Goya's portrait of the Duke of Wellington from the National Gallery in London.

And bringing it to life on the big screen is a stellar cast.

Jim Broadbent takes on the role of art thief Kempton Bunton himself, beside Helen Mirren who stars as his wife, Dorothy.

"Yes. I mean, she’s tough," Mirren describes of her character in an interview with Smooth presenter Angie Greaves. "She is carrying this tragedy within her that she can’t deal with. And I think that’s one of the elements that gives the film such a depth."

Mirren adds: "I mean, it is a comedy. It’s a caper. It’s funny. It’s very funny in a very gentle way."

Broadbent describes his character as "irresistible", and adds: "He’s not giving into anything. He’s going to keep going."

As soon as the 72-year-old actor laid eyes on the film's script, he said he was hooked. But it wasn't all plain sailing.

"I had to work on my Geordie accent," the Academy Award winner reveals.

Despite the film being a comedy, there's still darker themes of pain and loss present throughout.

"Yes, it’s a wonderful, funny, eccentric, British comedy about a wonderfully funny, eccentric, British man, and what he does," Mirren explains. "But through that, there is this real theme of pain and loss, and how to deal with it."

The Duke follows the tale of the 60-year-old taxi driver who stole Goya's portrait of the Duke of Wellington
The Duke follows the tale of the 60-year-old taxi driver who stole Goya's portrait of the Duke of Wellington. Picture: Alamy

The film was directed by Roger Michell (Notting Hill, Blackbird), who sadly died aged 65 in September 2021. The Duke was his final work.

Richard Bean and Clive Coleman were the brains behind the screenplay, which Broadbent describes as a "lovely script".

"I just adored it from the word 'go'," he admitted.

The Duke is set to be released in cinemas in the UK on 25 February 2022.