LOS ANGELES – He wasn’t addressing a nation preparing for war, but David Seidler’s acceptance of a screenwriting Oscar represented a crowning achievement for a man who overcame a debilitating stutter as a child.
Seidler penned the script for Oscar darling “The King’s Speech,” a film whose story of a British monarch overcoming his stutter to rally a nation to war mirrors in many ways the British writer’s own life.
“I say this on behalf of all the stutterers in the world we have a voice, we have been heard,” the 73-year-old screenwriter said while accepting his Oscar Sunday night.
Telling the story of King George VI was a lifetime ambition for Seidler, who overcame his own stutter nearly 60 years ago. The screenwriter was born in 1936, seven months before George took the British throne and was forced to overcome his stutter to rally the empire to face Nazi Germany.
Seidler overcame his stutter in adolescence after undergoing many of the speech therapies portrayed in “The King Speech,” including stuffing marbles in his mouth and reciting while listening to music on headphones.
Much like the king, profanity helped Seidler overcome his speech difficulties, which appeared in 1940 as he and his family travelled by boat to the United States.
George VI, known to friends as Bertie, uses profanity in the film to score a breakthrough in his therapy.
“I’d like the thank her majesty the Queen for not putting me in the Tower of London for using the Melissa Leo f-word,” Seidler said.
There were no tongue tie-ups Sunday night when Seidler accepted his award, and he used his speech to try to empower others with speech difficulties.
“People still have the archaic notion that we stutters are feeble-minded simply because it is difficult for us to articulate our thoughts,” he said backstage.
“The King’s Speech” is built around the unlikely friendship between George VI (Colin Firth) and unconventional speech therapist Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush). It is nominated for best picture.