Shot on location in Versailles, France, Coppola’s extravagant film may have featured a modern soundtrack and contemporary dialogue, but the food – which featured heavily in many of the scenes – was painstakingly authentic.
And much attention was paid to the weight of the actor Jason Schwartzman, who played King Louis XVI and was asked by the director to gain around 20 kilos. After all, 18th Century monarchs had very little to do other than sit around and eat all day.
“Sofia had mentioned to me, ‘You know, you should gain some weight’”, the actor recounted in an interview published on the website CanMag. While the actor had hoped to be able to “fake” the weight gain with prosthetics, Coppola insisted that his face “had to look a certain way”, in order to convince audiences that this King – despite being married to the young and beautiful Austrian princess, whom he all but ignores – was more focussed on food than any other carnal pleasure.
So what did the actor do to get out of shape before the cameras rolled? “I would do little tricks like put doughnuts next to my bed and set my alarm for 3 in the morning and wake up and power them down and wipe the jelly off my cheek and go back to bed”.
As for his onscreen wife, Marie Antoinette, played by Kirsten Dunst, she looks lithe and delicate throughout the movie, corseted into the most binding and luxurious gowns. And yet, during the movie she is surrounded by sweets in many of the scenes.
Was it a struggle for her to maintain her figure while filming? Apparently not. “I tried to make her food experience be not about eating anything in front of the court when they were sitting there except for pastries. I just didn’t want to put anything in my mouth that wasn’t a pastry or a raspberry or something buttery and delicious. So I thought that was Marie Antoinette’s relationship with food. Just the sweets”.
Photo courtesy Columbia Pictures