Yorgos Lanthimos, Tony McNamara and Deborah Davis reveal the modern influences on ‘The Favourite’

The Favourite” won seven BAFTA Awards on Sunday, including Best British Film. The latter was the first win of the night and brought director Yorgos Lanthimos and screenwriters Tony McNamara and Deborah Davis backstage. In our interview, I asked if any modern rivalries had influenced how they created the conflict-laden tale of women vying for power.

“We had a few references – there was a Greek film, and I thought about ‘All About Eve’ occasionally, but we didn’t discuss any modern rivalries or people,” says McNamara, who shared the Best Original Screenplay prize with Davis later in the evening.

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“I really liked Sarah Kane‘s ‘Phaedra’s Love’ which is a great play bya British writer. But we ultimately decided to be as original as possible,” says Lanthimos. Fair warning to anyone who wishes to Google Kane (as I did) – her life sadly ends in tragic circumstances. Her play, which is inspired by Seneca’s “Phaedra,” is a tragedy. But Kane described it as “my comedy,” which fits the tone of “The Favourite” pretty neatly.  The play explores the brutal nature of love, social relations, nihilism and belief through the example of an affair between a queen and her stepson.

In our talk, Davis commented on the fact that this movie took two decades to make. “I wrote my very first draft in 1998 and gave it to my producer. It’s taken a very long time but it has been well worth the wait.” Indeed, it has with seven BAFTAs and the Oscars, where “The Favourite” reaped a leading 10 bids, still to come.

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