Acting Wilde

19th November 2018

News, Student news, Alumni news

Happy Prince star, alumnus Edwin Thomas, returned to Wadham for a film screening and Q and A with students and academics. 

  • Alumnus Edwin Thomas at Wadham

    Alumnus Edwin Thomas at Wadham

  • Edwin as Robbie Ross

    Edwin as Robbie Ross

Returning during Queer Week, Edwin (French and Portuguese, 2005) spoke frankly about his role in Rupert Everett's highly acclaimed film about the end of Oscar Wilde's life.

“It is just wonderful to be able to show The Happy Prince at Queer Week. It’s such an important film; in many ways Oscar Wilde was the start of the gay liberation movement, he was very forward thinking,” said Edwin.

The Happy Prince sees Rupert Everett play the famed 19th century writer, in a depiction of his final years in exile (Everett also directs the production). After being persecuted and jailed for “gross indecency with men”, Wilde fled to Europe, where he spent his last years struggling with condemnation, ill health and poverty in Italy and France, before dying of Cerebral Meningitis in a hotel in Paris, aged 46.

Everett’s film highlights the tender relationship between Wilde and his loyal literary executor and former lover Robbie Ross (played by Edwin). This relationship is in stark contrast to Wilde’s passionate love of Lord Alfred “Bosie” Douglas with whom Wilde unwisely re-unites. Bosie’s father’s declaration that Wilde was a sodomite led to the writer’s imprisonment, the end of his career and the loss of almost all society connections.

After completing his languages degree Edwin trained at the Guildhall School of Speech and Drama. He described how his audition for The Happy Prince took place shortly before filming began and answered questions on topics ranging from Edwin’s journey into acting, his work as a teacher, the story of his character Robbie Ross, and working with Rupert Everett.

Having worked in education and health for much of his twenties, Edwin is keen not to leave those roots behind as he embarks on his acting career. He is passionate about helping Wadhamites interested in careers in the arts. His dream is to combine a career in acting with documentary film-making.

Currently filming the third series of Victoria for ITV, Edwin has been selected as one of Screen International's Stars of Tomorrow 2018.