• As the star of the new thriller by Hollywood’s Roland Emmerich – the demolition man behind Independence Day and 2012 – Rhys Ifans has some explaining to do. “We do set the theatre alight a couple of times,” the actor insists; Anonymous, a Shakespearean what-if drama that questions the playwright’s authorship, is unusually bereft of its director’s trademark explosions
    • Anonymous does have a stick of dynamite at its core, especially if you happen to be a Shakespeare scholar. Besides being a zesty dramatisation of the goings-on of Elizabethan England, the movie makes the claim that William Shakespeare was no more than a highly paid beard – illiterate, no less! – for one Edward de Vere (Ifans), the educated 17th Earl of Oxford and incestuous lover of the Queen.
    • Disrespect is something Ifans clearly relishes. He was the narrator of the 2010 documentary Exit Through the Gift Shop – also, however loosely, about an anonymous artist, the provocateur Banksy. (The parallels aren’t lost on him: “We don’t know who Banksy is; that’s what gives him his power.”) Is Ifans drawn to the controversial? Ask him, and it’s more about telling truth to power. “Especially in those days, theatre was an arena in which ideas could be expressed to wider society,” he says. “It had the power that the internet does now, and would have posed the same threat to a totalitarian state as we’re seeing in the Middle East. That’s why these theatres were razed to the ground, because they were subversive and enlightening to a large populace.”

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