Now that he doesn’t have to worry about protecting Wes Anderson from Gene Hackman by wearing cowboy hats, Bill Murray is a busy dude. Along with showing up alongside Charlie Sheen in that Roman Coppola movie, here he is in USA Today, in costume as Franklin D. Roosevelt from Hyde Park on the Hudson. It’s interesting casting, Bill Murray is so likable he could make Rand Paul love the New Deal.
Once committed, Murray was the picture of professionalism while shooting the story about the historic visit to the United States by England’s King George VI (yes, the same stuttering monarch from The King’s Speech) and Queen Elizabeth in June 1939, three months before the start of World War II. “He rose to the challenge magnificently,” Director Roger Michell (Notting Hill) says of his star.
The script, based on a radio play, concentrates on the historic public event — the first time a reigning British monarch visited the United States — and how Anglo-American relations improved considerably after FDR and wife Eleanor (Olivia Williams) played host to the royals at their estate in Hyde Park, N.Y., following a more formal gathering in Washington, D.C.
There is also behind-the-scenes drama, as the long-suspected affair between FDR and distant cousin and family companion Daisy (Laura Linney) is explored.
Michell adds that while Hyde Park on Hudson is not a comedy per se, there is plenty of humor “as two cultures crash into each other.”
No more so than when the Roosevelts treat their guests to an old-fashioned picnic, featuring the then-exotic Yankee treat, hot dogs. “The hot dogs are an integral part of the story,” he explains. “The conundrum is explored of whether the royals should publicly eat a hot dog and possibly be set up for ridicule by consuming a strange and slightly socially embarrassing object.” [USAToday]
Ah yes, the heartwarming tale of how a stuttering king learned to eat dick-shaped foods and a crippled president who banged his cousin just to put the royals at ease. And in the process, brought two nations together. A story as old as time.