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Character: Elizabeth Malet
Directed by: Laurence Dunmore
Written by: Stephen Jeffreys (play & screenplay)
Produced by: Chase Bailey, Mairi Bett, Steve Christian, Louise Goodsill, Lianne Halfon, Ralph Kamp, Colin Leventhal, John Malkovich, Marc Samuelson, Peter Samuelson, Russell Smith, Donald A. Starr, Daniel J.B. Taylor
Other cast: Johnny Depp, Paul Ritter, John Malkovich, Samantha Morton, Stanley Townsend, Tom Hollander
Release date: November 18, 2005 (U.K.) | March 6, 2006 (U.S.)
Genre: Biography, Drama, History
Running time: 114 min

In 1660, with the return of Charles II to the English throne, theater, the visual arts, science and sexual promiscuity flourish. Thirteen years later, in the midst of political and economical problems, Charles II asks for the return of his friend John Wilmot, aka the second Earl of Rochester, from exile back to London. John is a morally-corrupt drunkard and a sexually- active cynical poet. When the King asks John to prepare a play for the French ambassador so as to please him, John meets the aspiring actress Elizabeth Barry in the playhouse and decides to make her into a great star. He falls in love with her and she becomes his mistress. During the presentation to the Frenchman, he falls into disgrace with the court. When he was thirty-three years old and dying of syphilis and alcoholism, he converts to being a religious man.

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Character Quotes

Elizabeth Malet: [holds Wilmont as he weeps] I’ve been told that the Devil is in you. If that be so, then I know how he made his entrance.

Elizabeth Malet: You abducted me in a coach like this when I was still a virgin heiress.
Rochester: And did you like abduction?
Elizabeth Malet: Passionately.

Elizabeth Malet: Is the fault mine? If I were a better wife would you not need the whorehouse and the inn?
Rochester: Every man needs the whorehouse and the inn.


“For those who can stick with it, the rewards are considerable.”
Sheri Linden , The Hollywood Reporter

“The second half, especially, grows dour and maundering, and by the end the movie seems to flail in desperation, more like a work in progress than like a finished piece.”
Anthony Lane, New Yorker


• Filming took only 45 days.

• Unlike most period films, this one was shot almost entirely with a hand-held camera. The two most notable shots with a fixed camera (not a hand held one) are the two panoramas of the interior of the theater, which was intentional.

Awards & Nominations

Won British Independent Film Awards 2005 – Best Supporting Actress – Rosamund Pike
Nominated British Independent Film Awards 2005 – Best British Independent Film
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