A Minute With: Sarah Ferguson on making "Young Victoria"

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York, takes her first stab at film producing with “The Young Victoria,” which chronicles Queen Victoria’ youthful ascension to the throne and her romance with Prince Albert.

Britain's Duchess of York Sarah Ferguson poses for photographers at her arrival for the premiere of "Young Victoria" by Canadian director Jean-Marc Vallee in Paris in this July 7, 2009 file photo. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes

The film, which stars Emily Blunt in the title role, opens in limited release this Friday, before expanding around the United States on Christmas Day. Earlier this week, Blunt earned a Golden Globe nomination for best actress in a film drama.

Ferguson was married to Queen Elizabeth II’s son Prince Andrew from 1986 to 1996, and back then, she spent much of her time fending off comments from the British Press, mostly about her appearance. But in recent years, she has found success writing children’s books and as a celebrity endorsers for diet company Weight Watchers. Ferguson talked to Reuters about the film, her Royal daughters and why she seems so misunderstood.

Q: Why were you interested in the life of Queen Victoria?

A: She had an extraordinary presence and she ran the country with great strength. People today lead the lives they lead because of those in the past, like Queen Victoria, that remained steadfast to their beliefs. The film is also a beautiful untold love story.

Q: To whom do to you relate to most in the film?

A: Prince Albert, because I know what it’s like to be a guest. It is very difficult when you are not born in to it, to fit in to a life that you cannot logically understand. (Those born to it) are born to duty and to be selfless to the grave.

Q: Your daughter Beatrice, 21, is featured in the coronation scene of “The Young Victoria.” Is she the first British royal to be in a feature film?

A: I think so. She’s the fourth great granddaughter of Queen Victoria. She doesn’t want to go in to acting, but she loved filming that moment. She really loves history and thinking about things as they were back then.

Q: Do you see traits of Queen Victoria in your kids?

A: Queen Victoria had a sense of responsibility and duty. Both my girls (including Eugenie, 19) have that in abundance. Beatrice looks exactly like Victoria. They even have the same hair color. Beatrice is completely selfless. She’s born royal.

You can see it in her. She has discipline, commitment and dedication to what she believes and stands for.

Q: Have you been bitten by the producer’s bug? Anything else you’d like to bring to the big screen?

A: I’d like to look at Prince Albert a bit more. I like the untold stories of true history.

Q: Speaking of stories, what would The Sarah Ferguson story be if someone were to bring it to the big screen?

A: You would probably start with a woman who has sold many newspapers in the British press as being the sinner in comparison to Princess Diana being the saint. And yet, is this woman really the sinner? Hasn’t she been misunderstood? When people first meet me they say, ‘You’re much taller and thinner that we thought. And you’re quite pretty,’ I think to myself, ‘Boy did they think I was Shrek before coming?’ People look and make comments but nobody really knows me.

Q: Why is that?

A: I’m a person who goes all over the world so it’s difficult for people to understand what I do. When you think of me, which box do you check? The Weight Watcher’s box? The Duchess box? I write books, make movies, fly helicopters but I also have 62 schools all over the world to educate children.

Q: On the topic of children, Turkey wants to extradite you, claiming you broke its privacy laws when you went undercover to visit their orphanages for a documentary.

A: I can’t answer anything about that because that’s under the ‘no-comment rule’ at the moment. The only thing I’ll say about myself is that I am a human rights activists for children. Therefore I’m apolitical and multi-faith. I go with the governments, not against them. But I will be a foghorn for silent whisperers if I feel that children are not given the life that they should be given. In other words if they’re in institutions and haven’t even seen the light of day, that doesn’t sit well with me.

Q: And if there were a movie of the Duchess of York, who would play you?

A: Julianne Moore. She’s lovely and beautiful and red-headed.

Editing by Bob Tourtellotte