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Lucy Boynton Helping Re-Write History As ‘Marie Antoinette’ In New Show ‘Chevalier’

“Films like this highlight how inaccurate our history books are."
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If you want to know what’s on Lucy Boynton’s mind, you need only look as far as her bedside table. It’s here you’ll find a stack of eclectic tomes, from dense science textbooks to lyrical, gothic novels.

The tale that’s currently captivating the celebrated star’s attention is one that has largely been lost to history.

In 1802, when Napoleon Bonaparte reinstated slavery in France, the music and legacy of talented violinist Joseph Bologne (often referred to as the “Black Mozart”) was destroyed. The historical film Chevalier, in which Boynton plays a young Marie Antoinette, hopes to immortalise Bologne’s story.

Lucy Boynton
(Credit: Photography: Frank Fieber.)

“Films like this highlight how inaccurate our history books are,” says the British-American actor. “Half of society has been so whitewashed and male-centric that we’ve missed out on many greats. We need to encourage people to find stories of [those] we’ve neglected.”

While Boyton’s character has long been immortalised on the silver screen in a slew of cinematic retelling, most notably in Sofia Coppola’s 2006 film Marie Antoinette, the actress was eager to leans into a different, more vulnerable side to the infamous last queen of France.

“With a character like Marie Antoinette, who’s always been the main character of her in movies, it’s interesting to explore how she operates with other people when she’s not in spotlight. In the context of Joseph’s story, it was a really different side of her adulthood, because we’ve mostly seen her as this kind of fizzy, electric and excitable girl.

Boyton as Marie Antoinette in Chevalier. (Credit: Supplied.)

“It was exciting to take her to a very different place where on the brink of the French Revolution the world she’s always known starts to crumble and the walls are closing in on her and see the way that she chooses to be on the wrong side of history.

“And then when the revolution starts happening, you see the real fear that she has, you start to feel a bit more empathy with her. But I still wanted to play it in a way that she thinks that she’s the victim she can’t see outside of her sphere of fear and threat.  I think as that fear grows, she starts to clutch to things that she previously rebelled against and turned her nose up at at the institution of Versailles.

Contemporary retellings are a specialty for Boynton, who has starred in a slew of biopics, including the 2018 hit Bohemian Rhapsody (as Freddie Mercury’s longtime friend Mary Austin) and 2017’s Rebel in the Rye (based on the life of American writer J. D. Salinger).

And who does the actor feel is long overdue for a rewrite? “There was a whole movement of female surrealist artists who have been really neglected and overshadowed by their male counterparts,” she says. “I love stories that capture the female experience and female feelings.”

Chevalier is in cinemas August 3.

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