“We should be old friends, ” says Sir Ian. “We were in a company together under Laurence Olivier at the Old Vic when he led the National Theatre, but we didn’t actually act together.
“And since Tony went to live in the District, there haven’t been numerous alternatives when our tracks could have traversed, we’ve never done a film together. So this was just bliss.”
The drama in The Dresser takes target backstage at a theatre during the course of its Blitz, where tyrannical and aging actor-manager Sir( Hopkins) – who is deteriorating in torso and intellect – prepares for his starring role in King Lear, with the help of his devoted dresser Norman( McKellen ).
The camera ensures the audience are right up close to all the action. Did having such an esteemed sparring partner entail both actors upped their competition?
“It may surprise you,[ but] acting isn’t a competition, ” smiles Sir Ian. “It’s not a race, it’s a communal work we do together. It’s more like their own families, so no.
“[ Sir Anthony] said after the first week he’d not enjoyed doing a place so much better for years. At the end of six weeks he said, ‘I can’t bear it, it’s coming to an culminate! Can we work together again? ‘”