For the 2007 British farce Death at a Funeral, director Frank Oz says it was important to find the perfect English Country house where the family and friends would gather. Luckily, the first one they saw was this ivy-covered home in Henley, an hour outside London, and it was so beautiful, he says, that they knew they didn’t have to look any further.
The movie, written by Dean Craig, is about the people who come together for a funeral service. Daniel is in charge of organizing his father’s memorial, but his efforts to keep things dignified and respectful are in vain. Things start off badly when the funeral home delivers the wrong dead body to the house and go downhill from there.
It’s a farce, so there’s lots of wackiness and unexpected turns of events, but I was busy staring at the sets. Frank Oz says that the interior of the house in Henley wouldn’t work for the movie, so they built the sets on a soundstage at Ealing Studios (London).
Daniel and his brother stash another body in the casket with their dad as a last resort (it’s a long story):
Michael Howells was the production designer. He also worked on movies like Emma (1996) and Nanny McPhee.
Daniel giving the eulogy for his father:
A question for my U.K. readers: Is it common to hold funerals at home like this? Or is this just a movie thing?
Jane Asher plays the widow, Sandra:
When I first saw the movie, I knew I had seen the actor who played Daniel somewhere, but I couldn’t quite place him. It was driving me nuts. Then it hit me–
It was Matthew Macfadyen–the actor who played Darcy in one of my favorite Austen films, Pride & Prejudice! He looked so different and played such a meek and nervous character in Death at a Funeral that he was practically unrecognizable as the same person.
Here’s how Macfadyen looked in P&P:
The woman who plays Daniel’s wife Jane is Keeley Hawes. Macfadyen and Hawes are also married in real life, and they were expecting a baby boy during filming.
I really liked how they hung the artwork up the stairs:
Upstairs in the bedroom, where Daniel and Jane are getting ready for the funeral:
This is one of the only rooms that are actually in the house in Henley (not a set).
The upstairs hallway:
Daniel takes Peter (played by Peter Dinklage) into his father’s study to talk. Peter has a bombshell he’s about to drop on him.
Frank Oz says that the script called for a “regular height person,” but he thought Dinklage was the perfect actor for the part. (He was also great in movies like Elf and as Liz Lemon’s love interest on “30 Rock” recently.) He’ll reprise the role in the upcoming American version of the movie with Chris Rock in role of Daniel.
Why on earth they think we need an American version only 3 years after the original came out, I have no idea. Especially since the original didn’t do all that well at the box office here. (Current release date is June 2010.)
I love this garden shed or whatever it was behind the main house. Several scenes take place on the covered porch:
I wish I had gotten a good photo of Rupert Graves, who plays Daniel’s brother Robert, a successful novelist who has flown back from New York City for the funeral. Graves played Freddy Honeychurch in one of my favorite movies–A Room With a View.
You can see more photos from the movie at Sweet Sunday Morning. I was so wowed when I saw the house on her site that I had to see the movie. (I used a couple of her screen shots, too. The rest I took myself while watching the film.)
P.S. Did you watch the Oscars last night? I stayed up late to see it all and then overslept this morning. Oops! If you missed my fun quiz about Oscar-nominated movie houses, take it here.