The events of the film Hyde Park on Hudson are seen through the eyes of Daisy Suckley (Laura Linney), neighbor to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt (Bill Murray) and his wife, Eleanor (Olivia Williams). In June 1939, FDR and Eleanor hosted the king and queen of England for a weekend at the Roosevelt home in Hyde Park on Hudson. It was the first visit to the U.S. by a reigning British monarch. With war between the British and Germans looming on the horizon, the king was anxious to elicit support from FDR and the United States.
Daisy Suckley was a distant cousin to FDR, and after her death, a small suitcase containing letters to and from Roosevelt was discovered that revealed a previously unknown and intimate affair between the two. Also discovered was Daisy’s diary, a single entry of which formed the background of the film’s story. Daisy wrote excitedly about the visit of the king and queen, and being present at the weekend’s events, inspiring screenwriter Richard Nelson to craft a story that juxtaposes “the public and the private and the domestic and the epic,” in the words of director Roger Michell.
Hyde Park on Hudson is a fictionalized retelling of actual events, and is not an exposé of an unfaithful public figure. As Williams says, “This is meant to be an illuminating story told affectionately, not washing dirty linen in public or diminishing anyone in the eyes of the world. Facts have come to light over the years about some of these leaders’ domestic realities; I think people will be interested, entertained, and surprised.”
Many of the cast came to the film with an interest in the Roosevelts and their place in history. Linney says, “I’ve always had a deep fascination with the Roosevelts, particularly Eleanor, and their era. I’ve visited Hyde Park many times. But I knew nothing about Daisy Suckley. When this script came along, I felt grateful that this movie was getting made at all.” And Williams recalls, “I had begged, in a slightly undignified way, to be part of this movie. But it was very daunting playing someone of Eleanor’s caliber; she did so much for civil rights and race relations, using her position as first lady to help others. I wanted to do her justice.”
Hyde Park on Hudson is available beginning April 9 on Video On Demand. Check your cable system for availability.
© 2013 Focus Features