August 7, 2008 / 12:50 AM / 9 years ago

DVD release of "The Deal" shocks director Frears

<p>Stephen Frears arrives for French director Christophe Honore's gala screening of his in-competition film "Les Chansons d'Amour" at the 60th Cannes Film Festival, May 18, 2007. Frears is astonished a 2003 film he made about British politics -- promoted as the prequel to his hit movie "The Queen" -- is now being released in the United States on DVD. REUTERS/Victor Tonelli</p>

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Oscar-nominated director Stephen Frears is astonished a 2003 film he made about British politics -- promoted as the prequel to his hit movie “The Queen” -- is now being released in the United States on DVD.

“It was made for TV in Britain because it never crossed my mind that anybody else in the world would be interested in British domestic politics,” Frears told Reuters on Wednesday.

Before 2006’s “The Queen” came “The Deal,” a movie about a pact between former Prime Minister Tony Blair and successor Gordon Brown on leadership of Britain’s Labour Party, which won a British BAFTA TV award for best drama in 2004.

Brown had agreed to not stand against Blair for leader of the party in a deal struck in 1994, on the proviso that Blair would eventually step aside. Blair then became prime minister in 1997 when Labour won power.

But Brown’s impatience to take over eventually soured their relationship. After winning three elections, Blair stepped aside in June 2007 for Brown, whose poll ratings now make him the second most unpopular leader in modern British history.

“People used to say ‘Make it as a film’ and I said ‘No, no, no,”’ Frears said. “But I said the same about ‘The Queen,’ so what do I know?”

Frears was nominated for a best director Oscar for “The Queen,” while Helen Mirren won the best actress award for her role as Queen Elizabeth II. The movie, made in the same style as “The Deal” using pieces of real news footage, earned more than $122 million worldwide, according to Box Office Mojo.

While Frears, now directing the romantic comedy “Cheri” set in France and starring Michelle Pfeiffer, said he is unsure whether Blair watched “The Deal,” the former leader certainly watched “The Queen.”

“He made this wonderful remark on television. They said to him ‘Were you very nervous, very ingenuous when you first went to meet the Queen?’ and he said ‘I don’t know, look at the film. They got it right.’ So I was very, very flattered,” Frears said.

“Gordon Brown certainly watched (‘The Deal’) and was enjoying it until there was a reference to his old girlfriend when I think he turned ugly,” said Frears, laughing.

He said Peter Morgan, who wrote “The Deal” and “The Queen,” was “out there somewhere writing part three.”

“It was about Blair and (former U.S. president Bill) Clinton but it may have changed,” Frears said.

Editing by John O'Callaghan

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