Earlier this year, Timothy Spall (Wormtail) was awarded Best Actor at the Cannes Festival for his lead role in the film Mr. Turner. Yet, as his wife, Shane Spall, recalls, they did not make immediate plans to arrive at Cannes because they did not want to tempt fate. The last time that Timothy had been nominated, and won, he had been diagnosed with leukemia and therefore unable to attend the ceremony.
Shane tells the story in a moving piece:
In 1996, Mike Leigh’s Secrets and Lies won the Palme d’Or at Cannes Film Festival with my husband, Timothy Spall, playing the male lead. I’d spent a small fortune on the frock for the red carpet, had a new hair cut, a St Tropez fake tan and a pedicure. The frock remained wrapped in the original tissue paper, the tan faded and the pedicure chipped as I sat in a darkened hospital room. The day we were to fly out to Cannes, my leading man was told he had leukaemia. Instead of boarding the BA flight to Nice, he was admitted to University College London Hospital.
That was then. This year, Shane writes,
Fast forward 18 years: it’s 2014, and Mike Leigh’s Mr. Turner is in competition at Cannes, with Timothy playing the eponymous role. I didn’t bother buying a new frock, or getting the tan – I didn’t want to tempt fate.
Instead, she writes, they retreated to their boat:
The Princess Matilda was moored in Hoorn, in Holland, once a major port and the base of the Dutch East India Company. It is now a popular destination for recreational boaters, and the quay fills up at the weekend with boats rafting three or four deep alongside each other. We’d left the luxurious Carlton Hotel in Cannes at midday, and by 5.30pm were climbing over two neighbouring vessels to get to ours. Being on a boat centres you – no more room service or housekeeping; just Tim and me on our own. We like this.
Tim was still down in the engine room doing things with grease.
‘I might pack a bag,’ I said to him as I threw him a rag to wipe his hands before he shut the flap to the engine room.
‘I’ll go and see if the car has arrived.’
Two minutes later he was back, and I was packed.
‘I just spoke to the publicist – she says we should wait in the car, but I told her we’d wait on the boat until we get any news because if they don’t want me back in France, we can go through the next lock and go up the cut. We can get to Texel that way, and Robert can do the generator on Monday.’
There was an opened bottle of champagne in the fridge; I poured us both a glass in plastic cups.
‘Why don’t we lock up the boat, put the bag in the boot and drink this in the car?’ I suggested.
Shane concludes the story by recalling their rather hurried arrival in Cannes:
‘The traffic is bad – we have to get you to the Carlton as soon as possible. You have groomers coming to your room at 5.30pm, you have to be down in the lobby for 6pm, and leave the Carlton at 6.05pm to do the red carpet at 6.15pm!’
‘Does this mean Tim’s won?’ I asked as the car chased the motorbikes, going through red traffic lights and roundabouts the wrong way.
‘I’m sorry, I’m not allowed to say,’ Simone smiled.
‘Did you turn the water pump off?’ Tim asked me.
Read the full account of the story of here. A wonderful account of a moving story! Congratulations once again to Timothy.
Are you looking forward to seeing the film Mr. Turner when it’s released? Let us know your thoughts!