David Seidler: Oscar-winning King’s Speech screenwriter dies

LOS ANGELES — David Seidler, best known for writing the Oscar-winning film The King’s Speech, has died aged 86.

The London-born screenwriter, who had a stammer, brought the true story of how King George VI overcame his speech impediment to the big screen.

The 2010 film starred Colin Firth, who also won the best actor Bafta and Oscar for his depiction of the king.

Seidler was also behind the stage adaptation of the film, which opened in the West End in 2012.

He dedicated his 2011 Oscar to “all the stutterers around the world” — and at the time thanked the Queen for “not putting me in the Tower for using the F word”.

Seidler’s manager Jeff Aghassi confirmed to the BBC he passed away on Saturday.

“David was in the place he loved most in the world — New Zealand — doing what gave him the greatest peace, which was fly fishing,” Aghassi said.

“If given the chance, it is exactly as he would have scripted it.”

Born in 1937, Seidler moved to the US in the early days of World War Two and the London Blitz. He attended Cornell University where he was friends with the American writer Thomas Pynchon.

According to the LA Times, Seidler’s early gigs in entertainment included writing Japanese monster-movie translation dubs, and he broke into TV with the 1960s series Adventures of the Seaspray.

Throughout his career Seidler wrote other projects including the animated children’s musicals The King And I, Quest For Camelot and Madeline: Lost in Paris.

Seidler won his first Writers Guild award for the 1988 biopic Onassis: The Richest Man In The World starring Raul Julia as the Greek shipping magnate Aristotle Onassis.

He also co-wrote Francis Ford Coppola’s 1988 comedy drama Tucker: The Man And His Dream.

But the King’s Speech was what he was best known for. The plot follows the story of King George VI overcoming his severe stutter and his unexpected friendship with speech therapist Lionel Logue in the lead up to World War II.

In February 2011 Seidler received two Bafta awards and months later in September he picked up a Humanitas Prize for his work.

“I was writing about myself,” Seidler told the BBC in an interview in 2011.

Aghassi said the West End stage version of The King’s Speech was translated to “more than a half-dozen languages” including Italian, Japanese and Spanish.

It has been performed on four continents — adding its build up to being on Broadway was only cut short in 2020 by the Covid-19 pandemic.

“David focused on the lessons of life, love, loss, and rebirth,” Aghassi said.

“He continued to work on ideas that drew his interest, and at the time of his death he had multiple projects in active development, including documentary, limited series, and feature films.” — BBC

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