The Favourite: Inside Rachel Weisz, Joe Alwyn dance sequence

There are lots of pleasures to be found in The Favourite from the powerhouse performances to Yorgos Lanthimos’ imaginative direction to Sandy Powell’s elegantly cool costumes.

But, for me, the top highlight is a peculiar dance between Lady Sarah (Rachel Weisz) and Samuel (Joe Alwyn) at a palace party. What initially seems like it will be a stodgy recital, turns into an eccentric, anachronistic performance piece; imagine if Madonna was a choreographer in the 18th century.

And that, according to Lanthimos, is exactly what he had in mind. “From the beginning, I wanted the film and the characters and the actors moving in a way that’s quite particular and not necessarily tied to what we think people move in period films and sit and walk,” says the director (The Lobster).

Lanthimos called upon Argentinian choreographer Constanza Macras to come up with the routine for Weisz and Alwyn. Explains Weisz, “She came during rehearsal and started to show Joe and myself the moves that she choreographed and during the next three or four weeks until we shot it, we would show it to Yorgos privately and he would refine it and say, ‘I don’t like that move, and I don’t like that one. Think of a new movement.’”

Shooting it though took on a whole new challenge. Remembers the Oscar-winning actress, “Then, of course, we had to do it in our costumes. Him in heels and me in heels and a corset and a six-foot train. Some of the moves just didn’t work because of costumes, so we had to rethink them. It was really a wonderful challenge.” And one of the best movie moments of the year.

Related content:

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  • Emma Stone on playing a mean girl in The Favourite, bullying bunnies, and hitting Joe Alwyn in the crotch
  • Three glorious actresses power the palace intrigue of The Favourite: EW review

The Favourite

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