We track down this Lloyd-Hughes, and find him in a hotel room in Vienna. What is he doing here, this man of the present? And who is he, anyway? What can be gleaned, over a spotty phone line, is the following:
Henry Lloyd-Hughes’ Full Statement of the Case
Henry Lloyd-Hughes is not an only child, he is the eldest of six. He is in his late twenties, and he is around six feet tall. He does not consider himself nostalgic. He is visiting his 92-year-old grandfather who lives with his second wife, an Austrian. The air his grandfather subsists on is mountain air, clean and crisp. The air Lloyd-Hughes generally subsists on is soupy London gloom.
So, Lloyd-Hughes, please explain yourself. How came about this transformation of Dr. Bovary? An accident in a laboratory? An artistic decision? It was something Sophie and I bonded over when we first talked about the film: to a modern audience used to seeing film stars who are TV-good looking, if you have this young, beautiful woman who’s married to this grotesque dude, right, then she’s off the hook. If she behaves badly, the modern audience is already thinking, “Well, fair enough, her husband is grotesque.” There is no point in doing a historical adaptation if you’re not going to try and really—while respecting that material—mine it for whatever you can to make that subject sing to a modern audience.
If you read enough blogs, and look at pretty pictures and read enough magazines, it all seeps in, and that is what’s happening in [Madame Bovary], except these are the first magazines that existed. [Emma Bovary]’s reading these periodicals and looking at pictures of people in amazing clothes, and going “you know what? I thought this guy was a ‘fine’ husband, but now I realize that it’s nowhere near enough.”
That’s what should be a challenge to the audience. There’s someone out there who wants that, who says, “you know what, I’d be willing to settle for this man, with his pipe and slippers,” and the other part of the audience says, “That’s fucking boring,” and in a way, that exists in all of us.
Now, as a character, Dr. Bovary will no doubt live forever, tragic undesirability in the modern age notwithstanding. So, now by proxy, might you. As yourself, would you wish to be young forever?
No, I don’t think so. I think that seeing the hallmarks of a life lived is a very attractive quality in someone. I always think that smile-lines on someone’s face, or you know, even the odd scar… there is something attractive in there. You can see how much someone has relished life. Obviously nobody wants to see an eye patch or a tattoo on a newborn baby, it looks incongruent.
And also, the other glaring question to me is: Who would you be able to take with you? There might not be much fun to be had if you are gifted eternal life somehow and yet every one of your peers fades off into the distance, and you’re left telling stories to people who literally don’t know what the hell you’re talking about. You’re like “remember that cartoon show from the ’90s” and everyone is like “what ’90s? That was 1000 years ago.” No one would get your jokes. That is like the single worst thing that could ever happen to you, right?
Eternity with no references. That fills me with quite a lot of dread.
So you probably wouldn’t want to live forever then? No. I probably… no. I wouldn’t want to go solo, I don’t think.
Photographer: Jonathan West for ThePureAgency.co.uk.
Fashion Editor: Rose Forde at RoseForde.com.
Groomer: Keiichiro for DavidArtists.co.uk.
Producer: Tery-Anne Webb for ThePureAgency.co.uk.
Photography Assistant: Ian Murrells.
Styling Assistant: Sydney Turner and Laurie Lederman.
Location: Studio 74, London.