LondonFilm Festival 2015 covered the ‘The Lady in the Van’ premiere during the BFI London Film Festival 2015 and listened to actor Alex Jennings, writer Alan Bennett and producers Damian Jones and Kevin Loader. Of course we also saw the amazing Dame Maggie Smith on the red carpet.

‘The Lady in the Van is a heart-warming movie based on the story of Alan Bennett and his very odd and long-term relationship with the homeless ‘Miss Shepherd’, who came to the attention of Mr. Bennett in the late 1960s. She travelled around in her van though the neighbourhood in Camden Town and she parked closer and closer to Alan Bennett’s home as time passed by. Eventually he allowed her to keep the van in his own driveway, which let to her living there for 15 years. Alan Bennett and Miss Shepherd surely made a very interesting couple. They were officially a landlord and a ‘tenant’, but Mr. Bennett did not really seem to benefit from this arrangement. What made it even more difficult for Mr. Bennett was the fact that Miss Shepherd was not the easiest woman to deal with. She was not quite right in the head and was very selfish and insensitive, but in an extremely humorous and touching way. The movie perfectly describes the relationship between Mr. Bennett and Miss Shepherd, which was quite formal and distance, but in the end seemed very close.

Alan Bennett says that he is very easy to imitate because of his accent and that Alex Jennings used to do imitations of him before he played him in the movie. He says that Miss Shepherd would feel that it was only right that there was a movie created about her. She regarded herself probably to be in line for the next prime minister.

London Film Festival 2015

– Alan Bennett

Kevin Loader says that the movie is quite different from the stage play, the performance is more detailed and it is a more intense experience. He thinks the audience will laugh because Miss Shepherd is such an extraordinary character and Maggie captures her brilliantly.

London Film Festival 2015

– Kevin Loader

According to Damian Jones, ‘Lady in the Van’ was a jewel in the crown that he thought they should look at. He said that producer Nicholas Hytner said that he would do it if Alan would write it and Alan said that he would do it if Maggie would star in it and that is how they completed the circle. He loved to see the transformation of Maggie Smith as Miss Shepherd and bringing her to life. He hopes that the audience will laugh and be entertained.

London Film Festival 2015

‘Maggie Smith is a fantastic British Icon’ – Damian Jones

Alex Jennings said that Alan Bennett was often on the set while he was sitting in his window where he wrote many of his great works which made it quite weird and a little bit spooky for him. He says that Alan gave him confidence but also suggested things and criticised him. Furthermore Alex said that playing with Maggie is an extraordinary experience because she is such a great artist.

London Film Festival 2015

‘To be up close working with Maggie Smith on this project was a huge privilege’ – Alex Jennings

London Film Festival 2015

– Maggie Smith

Check out the interviews with Alan Bennett, Kevin Loader, Damian Jones and Alex Jennings here:

– Alan Bennett:

– Kevin Loader:

– Damian Jones:

– Alex Jennings:

– Maggie Smith on the red carpet:

‘The Lady in the Van’ will be in the cinema’s on the 13th of November 2015. Check the trailer here.

Check out all our interviews during the BFI London Film Festival on our YouTube Channel

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