Henry Faber, a second year Modern Langages student at Balliol, has landed a starring role in a feature-length adaptation of Shakespeare’s Henry IV.
The film, to be aired on BBC2 next year, will see the student playing the part of Prince John of Lancaster, with his father King Henry IV being portrayed by Jeremy Irons.The adaptation, which condenses the narrative of Shakespeare’s two Henry IV plays into one television film, was created by Sir Richard Eyre, who will also be directing Faber and the rest of the cast.
Faber has only had acting representation for eighteen months, using this time to audition for both stage and screen roles, but sees this as his big opportunity to break into the acting world. He spoke to Cherwell this week, saying, “I acted a lot at school and realised I wanted to act both at university and after. Right now I’m just trying to put myself out there and get as much experience as possible with the hope that things might just work out if I’m lucky!”
His role sees him as an ambitious but loyal and dutiful son to King Henry, highlighting his brother Hal’s (played by Tom Hiddleston) apparent failings. Later his character is revealed as cold-veined, shrewd and ruthless, although whether this is through loyalty to his father is left uncertain. The character features in around one third of Eyre’s adapted screenplay.
Faber’s production schedule involves a week of rehearsals later this term, and then an intermittent three-week period of filming in Hilary. With the flexible nature of filming schedules, however, he is uncertain how much time playing the role will take. He commented, “I’m very grateful that my tutors have been supportive,” and stressed his ongoing commitment to his academic work, saying, “My degree comes first and I’ll be carrying on my modern languages work from outside Oxford when I’m not here.”
Faber is a well-known actor in Oxford productions, having previously taken on the role of Konstantin in The Seagull and also appearing in A Streetcar Named Desire during his first year. This week he is appearing in The Picture of Dorian Gray at the Playhouse, in his final role before he begins work on the BBC adaptation. Producer of Dorian Gray, Edmund Singer-Kingsmith, referred to Faber as a “perfect professional” and a talented actor, commenting, “We are very lucky to have him.”