Actor takes to stage and goes back to Aussie roots

For The King’s Speech, Australian-born Titanic actor Jonathan Hyde finds himself playing an Australian on stage for the first time.

Sunday, 26th February 2012, 7:41 am

There’s very little trace of an Australian accent in his voice, but “it comes back from time to time”, he says, turning it on strongly.

“But for this one, it has got to be a posh Australian accent!”

Jonathan is playing Lionel Logue, the unconventional speech therapist who made such a difference to the stammering King George VI.

“The play is very different to the film. It’s much fuller; it goes into it all in a great deal more depth, both politically and in terms of details.

“Logue is a charming man, very ambitious, very committed – and a very kind man, quite simply. He had helped a lot of shell-shocked soldiers during the First World War.

“He learnt on the job really. It was not something where you could just go on a course. It was just something that he acquired, and he had a real heart for it. He had almost superhuman patience, just being able to listen and to think and to feel for these people that were so damaged.”

And the future King George VI, when you read about his childhood, was clearly a damaged man too: “He had had a very cruel childhood in many ways.”

Jonathan left Australia in 1969, having been conscripted for Vietnam: “They chose a marble system of one in eight once you were over 21. They picked me out as one in eight. I didn’t go to Vietnam though, because I couldn’t. But I thought I had better leave the country before they changed their minds.

“I was violently opposed to the war as being an outrageous act by the Americans and subsequently the Australians. The whole thing was a total outrage. People forget that three million Vietnamese died as a result of the war, and that America lost almost 60,000 killed. It was appalling.”

And so Jonathan left the country: “And then the Australian Labour government got into power and brought the troops home. But by then, I had settled over here.”

The King’s Speech is at the Theatre Royal Brighton from February 27 - March 3.