Actor Simon Callow has claimed the hit film Four Weddings and a Funeral wouldn’t be made today because ‘society has changed’.
The British romantic comedy, written by Richard Curtis and directed by Mike Newell, was the highest-grossing British film in history at the time and won Academy Award nominations for Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay.
It follows a set of white middle-class friends over the the course of five social occasions and is largely acclaimed for propelling Hugh Grant, who played foppish bachelor Charles, to international stardom.
Speaking to the Daily Telegraph, London-born Callow, 71 – whose character Gareth was an archetypally flamboyant gay man – argued it’s unlikely the flick would be commissioned today due to the limited diversity of its characters.
‘I’m sure Four Weddings and a Funeral wouldn’t be made today, because society has changed,’ he said.
By contrast, he remarked that Michaela Coel’s boundary-pushing BBC drama I May Destroy You, which he branded ‘dazzling’ and ‘brilliant’, would ‘absolutely not have been possible 25 years ago’.
Callow added that’s interesting that people, ‘if they’re feeling a bit blue, like to put Four Weddings on and watch it for the hundredth time’.
‘That’s the wonderful thing about the arts, that there’s this huge back catalogue which is full of illumination for us about the way people were, and the degree to which some things haven’t changed,’ he told the publication.
‘There is a big move to eliminate the past, as though the past is of no use to us any more. But this is clearly an impossible proposition.’
The actor, who also starred in TV shows Outlander and mini series Angels in America, is known for his outspoken, candid views and was once reported to have wondered aloud if blacking up is ‘so offensive?’.
Speaking to the Telegraph he observed we live in an era where it’s ‘suddenly very hard to say anything nuanced or complex about anything’.
‘I think people are increasingly nervous of speaking out,’ he said.
‘Obviously, people have, correctly, linked this to the development of social media and the extraordinarily unmediated expression of hatred which we are now living with, and anybody who puts their head above the parapet on any subject whatever will be absolutely reviled just for existing really.
‘This is clearly impossible. Society cannot proceed on this basis at all.’
Callow, married to Amazon global engagement manager Sebastian Fox who is 35 years his junior, was one of the first actors to come out as gay in the 1980s.
He has been residing in London during lockdown after catching a flight back from New York where he was rehearsing a musical when the pandemic took hold in March.
He claimed the government was ‘very, very, very slow’ to step in when it came to helping the Arts through the crisis.
Having continued to work, doing voiceovers, book reviews and a documentary on Shakespeare’s sonnets, Charles Dickens scholar Callow is currently ‘incarnating’ the Victorian author at the Fidelio Orchestra Café in Clerkenwell, London, to an audience of 25.