The shooting of “The Worst Man in London” the new feature film by Rodrigo Areias took place in Porto with the support of Filmaporto — film commission. The period drama, with a script by Eduardo Brito and production by Paulo Branco (Leopardo Filmes) is now in post-production.
The narrative takes place in London in the second half of the 19th century and focuses on the life of Charles Augustus Howell (Albano Jerónimo), a Portuguese-descendant con artist known for persuading the poet and painter Dante Gabriel Rossetti (Edward Ashley) to exhume Lizzie Siddal (Victória Guerra).
Son of a Portuguese mother and an English father, Charles Augustus Howell was born in Porto and emigrated to London at 17. There, he becomes the secretary of the influential art critic John Ruskin and ends up rising in high society. He was also linked to the most important artistic movement of that time, the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. The film’s story also intersects with a set of episodes in the context of the agitated European political situation: Howell turns out to be associated with the attack of Napoleon III and the attempts to change the English throne.
It was the writer Arthur Conan Doyle, the creator of Sherlock Holmes, who gave Charles Howell the designation of “the worst man in London”, introducing him to fiction as a master blackmailer. However, Rodrigo Areias disagrees with the expression: “I think the film will only achieve its objective if that declaration is interpreted with irony. I think what remained for the story was the bad version of who Charles August Howell was, and what interests me in this film is also telling that the human being has many facets, people are not flat, they are not good or bad. There are several reasons why sometimes we make bad decisions in life with good intentions”, explains the director. “I believe this character has this characteristic, which is very Portuguese and I even identify with, which is trying to help everyone even when that isn’t good for anyone”, he adds.
The action of the film takes place in London, between 1857 and 1882, in the middle of the Victorian era. Palacete Pinto Leite, Casa Allen, Casa São Roque, Jardim do Romântico, Jardim Botânico and the exterior of the Conde de Ferreira Hospital were some of the scenarios chosen for the shooting. “The city had, throughout its history, a very strong relationship with the English community, which allows us to film in English buildings, gardens, and even cemeteries and churches without leaving Porto”, explains Rodrigo Areias.
“The Worst Man in London” will be completed in the second half of this year. The film, with a commercial release planned for 2023, will also be adapted to television in a three-episode miniseries for RTP. Simon Paisley Day, Jean-François Balmer, Carmen Chaplin, Christian Vadim, Tom Shepherd, Maya Booth, João Pedro Vaz, and Vera Moura complete the cast of the feature film, whose technical team includes Jorge Quintela (Director of Photography), Ricardo Preto (Art Director), Susana Abreu (Costume Designer) and Ana Pinhão Moura (Executive Producer).
The film, produced in association with Mrs. Frank (Netherlands), has the financial support of the Instituto do Cinema e do Audiovisual; Fundo de Apoio ao Turismo, Cinema e Audiovisual; Direção Regional de Cultura do Norte; RTP; the city councils of Porto, Matosinhos, Viana do Castelo and the parish of Alvarães.