Video: how we made Mr. Turner

Published 19 November 2014

Who was Mr. Turner? A contradiction, Timothy Spall told us at a recent panel discussion on Mike Leigh’s biopic. Watch the event and a behind-the-scenes video about the film here.

  • In Mike Leigh’s biopic, Timothy Spall shows us his version of the painter of light. But, as Spall explained at the Royal Academy recently, playing an historical figure is never simple – especially when that figure is the enigmatic JMW Turner.

    Joining the stars of the film for a panel discussion earlier this month, art historian Dr. Jacqueline Riding asked Spall to elaborate on a painter he has described as both “a great man and "a goblin”. “What was very frustrating at first,” explains Spall, “was how many contradictions there were about Turner…How could this poetic, polymathic genius come out of this creature that could have been born out of the mud in the river Thames?”

    Watch this clip for more or watch the full event at the bottom of this page.

  • Timothy Spall on JMW Turner

    The actor explains how he got under the skin of a man whose inherent contradictions make him a fascinating character to play.

  • Turner, as you might know, was himself a Royal Academician – as were a number of other artists who feature in the film (you can learn more in this helpful Who’s who on our blog). A fascinating 1832 incarnation of our Summer Exhibition also appears in the film, and in this behind-the-scenes featurette, the cast and crew explain how they went about recreating it – down to the placing of the paintings.

  • Behind the scenes: Mr. Turner and the Summer Exhibition

    Discover how the makers of ‘Mr. Turner’ recreated the 19th century Royal Academy in this fascinating behind-the-scenes featurette.

  • Want to learn more? Watch the full-length video of our panel discussion here.

  • Watch the full-length panel discussion.

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