One expects the potential for danger while filming an action movie with practical stunts. Ask Tom Cruise's broken ankle about that. However, one would assume that making a period costume drama like The Favourite would be a relatively danger-free task. For Nicholas Hoult, that wasn't exactly the case. It seems that in a bid for authenticity, the movie used natural light to film most of the scenes, which meant that, when filming in the dark, the set was full of open flames, which Hoult was continuously afraid of walking into. According to Hoult...
The Favourite takes place in the early 1700s during the reign of Queen Anne (Olivia Coleman) and deals with a bit of palace intrigue involving Anne, her lifelong friend Sarah Churchill, the Dutchess of Marlborough, played by Rachael Weisz and Sarah's cousin, Abigail, played by Emma Stone. Based on the time frame, one would certainly expect a lot of candles to be around, as it was the only real source of artificial light available. However, frequently, films dealing with this time period will still use modern methods to light the scene, only using as much open flame as is necessary to make the set look appropriate.
However, The Favourite decided to take the realism one step further by using primarily natural light and real candles as the light sources for the scenes. This would require a bit more candlelight than might otherwise have been used in order for there to be enough of it in dark scenes to light the scene properly. It seems the possibility of accidentally lighting himself on fire was a perpetual concern for Nicholas Hoult as he tells USA Today.
Nicholas Hoult plays Harley, a member of Parliament that perpetually attempts to gain the ear of the Queen and uses the rivalry between Sarah and Abigail for his own purposes. As a member of high society, he's one of the more finely dressed members of the film. This means high wigs and billowing clothing, which looks absolutely amazing but is also exactly the sort of thing that might catch fire without you even realizing it if you walk too closely to a candelabra.
In the end, however, the potential fire hazard was all for a good cause. The decision to use natural light gives the film a very specific look that wouldn't have been possible with the use of artificial light. A lot of the film is quite dark but anything more would have felt quite unnatural.
The Favourite is in theaters now.
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