National Trust Staff Expertise Aids Johnny Depp Love Scenes

By Graham Spicer | 16 November 2005
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Shows a photo of actor Johnny Depp with long hair and Restoration-era dress in a darkened room

Johnny Depp plays the second Earl of Rochester, famed for his carousing and wild ways.

A National Trust conservationist was on hand to offer advice during the filming of Johnny Depp’s raunchy love scenes on the set of his new film.

She wasn’t there to tell Johnny where to put his hat, however, but was instead advising the film crew on conservation issues on location at Montacute House in Somerset, a trust property.

“I was one of only a small number of people on set for the love scenes – an unusual environment to be giving conservation advice!” said Sharon Masters, Acting House Steward at Montacute House.

A 16th century bed in the house’s crimson bedroom was used in some particularly steamy scenes and Sharon had to make sure that the romps caused no damage to the valuable antique.

The film, entitled The Libertine, is on general release in the UK from November 18 2005 and tells the story of John Wilmot, the second Earl of Rochester, who lived from 1647 to 1680.

Shows a photo of a large, red-brick Elizabethan building with a sloping lawn in front of it

Montacute is an excellently preserved Elizabethan mansion and the perfect setting for a spot of Restoration-era action. © National Trust

Rochester, played by Depp, was a poet and notorious rake and the film reveals his outrageous exploits against the backdrop of the house and other historic properties.

“Montacute House is a favoured location for many film producers,” said Sharon. “It was a fascinating insight to see a glimpse of the house as it may have looked and been lived in during the period," she added. “The project involved months of preparation and two weeks of filming over two floors and using ten rooms within the house.”

Montacute, with its surrounding gardens and park, is a magnificent Elizabethan stone-built house constructed in the 16th century.

Its state rooms are packed with 17th and 18th century furniture and it displays many fine Tudor and Elizabethan portraits on loan from the National Portrait Gallery in its Long Hall.

Shows a photo of the interior of an opulently decorated room with a table laid out for dinner in it, tall windows and a large oil painting on one wall

Charlecote Park and its grand house in Warwickshire also feature in the film. © National Trust

Charlecote Park in Warwickshire, another National Trust property, was also used for the film. As the trust’s Film Locations Manager, Harvey Edgington, explained neither property has undergone major development since the Tudor period so both were perfect for the part.

"Much of what you see on film is original and this helps really capture the essence of the era," he said. "The Earl of Rochester would have been very much at home."

National Trust properties are often used for location filming, and 2005’s screen version of Pride and Prejudice also showcased some of the country’s finest stately homes, including Basildon Park in Berkshire.

Montacute House is currently closed for the winter, re-opening on March 18 2006, although the gardens are still open for the public.

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