Champ Clark
February 14, 2011 12:00 PM

Just like Geoffrey Rush onscreen in The King’s Speech, real-life speech therapist Lionel Logue had “huge charisma and great confidence,” says the film’s screenwriter David Seidler. But even Rush didn’t quite do Logue justice in one key regard. As a young man, says Seidler, “Logue really looked like Paul Newman.”

Now, more than 50 years after Logue’s death, the tenacious Australian with the leading-man looks is finally in the spotlight. The King’s Speech, which leads the Oscar race with 12 nominations, pulls back the curtain on Logue’s role in helping Britain’s King George VI overcome a lifelong stammer. An amateur actor, self-taught therapist and father of three, “he was a pragmatic man, so he’d often offer the King his opinion,” says Logue’s grandson Mark, 45, who allowed filmmakers access to his grandfather’s diaries and letters. Yet the men’s bond largely remained a secret until after the 2002 death of George’s widow, the Queen Mum, who had feared embarrassment over the highly personal story. “If the Queen Mum says, ‘Please wait,’ you wait,” says Seidler. Logue, who died in 1953, a year after George VI, never sought publicity but would have been proud of the film, believes his grandson: “He was a colonial boy done good.”

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