Attractive Films have announced the first cast member for Tolkien & Lewis, the real-life inspiration for Lucy Pevensie from C.S. Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia, Jill Freud.
June Flewett, who would marry the the grandson of psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud, Sir Clement Freud, was evacuated as a British teenager during World War II to The Kilns, the home of Lewis and his companion, Janie Moore – who they called “Minto”. Lewis wasn’t known for his love of children, but he took such a liking to Flewett that he based his Lucy Pevensie character on her. In Tolkien & Lewis, Freud will play a social worker who brings, well, herself, to the Lewis household. The actress spoke to The Hollywood Reporter via email about C.S. Lewis.
On finding out that Lewis had based Lucy Pevensie on her:
Douglas Gresham, Jack’s stepson, wrote me a letter. He needed answers to something or other and ended with, “I suppose you realize that you were the inspiration for Lucy?” I hadn’t known until then — perhaps 10 years ago. I was absolutely thrilled. It’s like being told you were the real Lady Macbeth!
On whether she sees any of herself in Lucy:
It’s years since I read it, but in the stage version I saw a few years ago, Lucy was very likable — it was quite flattering.
On C.S Lewis:
Lovely. He had a reputation amongst his students — he was so sharp on them — he didn’t let them get away with any kind of woolliness. They were quite scared of their tutorials. To me, at home, he was generosity itself. He would let me buy any book I wanted. He would talk to me about things — never make me feel small. If I said anything really silly he just wouldn’t answer. He was kind, generous, good humored, helpful. I was 16, and it was what you would call a schoolgirl crush. Jack put me in his educational covenant and paid all my fees. All the royalties from his religious books were put into a covenant and were used to help people in education because there were very few grants in those days.
On J.R.R. Tolkien
I used to play in his garden. There were other children from my class who were evacuees with him, so I used to go over there and have tea. He would be around, walking through, but I don’t think he would have remembered me…I absolutely adored The Hobbit. It was his first book about the whole landscape that merged into The Lord of the Rings. I absolutely loved it. I was a fan and the fact he was in Lewis’s circle and one of the Inklings (a literary group at the University of Oxford) was lovely to know.
How she first came to the Kilns:
I was to be evacuated there — it was arranged to be at the end of the summer term. I went up there and was introduced to Minto, who sort of vetted me. She said to the convent, “she’ll do.” We had ration books in those days — and you got one egg a week. But Minto had 25 hens and she needed hen food. So she asked whether she could use my ration book for hen food and she would send me some eggs. So once a month I got a box containing 12 beautiful fresh eggs — whereas everyone else was getting one stale egg a week from the grocers. I did very well — so every month I wrote and thanked her, and that’s why she said when I had finished my O levels (at age 16), “Would you like to come down for a little holiday?”
Her first impressions of C.S Lewis:
When I first went up to the Kilns, Jack was away giving one of his lectures to the RAF, and he came back there after a couple of days — and I didn’t know he was C.S. Lewis. He was just “Jack,” and I thought he was Minto’s adopted son. I had already read The Screwtape Letters, which was my favorite book. So I was devastated when I looked at the bookshelf and put the two names together and realized that Jack Lewis was C.S. Lewis. For three days I couldn’t bring myself to speak to him — I was so overawed.
On Warnie, Lewis’ older brother and Janie Moore:
He was much more of an uncle. He was older than Jack and to my young eyes then he seemed to be an old man. He was so kind to me — and we went on having a good friendship after Jack died. I used to go down and see him once a year and bring him a Christmas present and we would sit and chat…Minto hated him and resented him very much. I think it was probably due to the alcohol problem — which I know nothing about. And I suppose she was probably jealous and resented that he was living with them.
On the length of her stay:
It was arranged that I would stay with them for two weeks. When I got there I found Minto was in a very bad way. She had ulcers on her legs and the doctor said the only way to cure them was to lie up. But she couldn’t as she had a house to run. I started taking on some of the chores — and the only help they did have, a mentally handicapped boy, left. So I realized if I left they would be in trouble. In the meantime, I had taken the entrance exams to RADA (Royal Academy of Dramatic Art) and had been accepted. So without telling Jack or Minto, I wrote to RADA asking if they would postpone for a term. They said yes and I told Jack I could stay on for another three months. And that continued, as every term I wrote to postpone again. Eventually, after two years, my father said to Jack that I had to go back to RADA and that’s why I left the Kilns.
On the kind of conversations she remember with Lewis:
We all had supper every evening.… Round the table would be Minto and Warnie, Jack and myself. They would discuss books and things of interest, like in the home of any Don. I had nothing to contribute, really, except my ridiculous confidence, so when I opened my mouth I had something to say. But I was imbibing in it all the time. He was lending me books and encouraging me to read because I missed doing a Higher Certificate, but in a way, I had a sort of education in literature for the two years that I was there. I don’t think I missed out that much, although I left school at 16.
Tolkien & Lewis is set for an Easter release in 2015. Read more: