It was a long road to get here, but on May 25, the Grace Kelly biopic Grace of Monaco will premiere on Lifetime. In the movie, Nicole Kidman plays the beloved, famously tragic icon. It was also directed by Olivier Dahan, who was at the helm of the 2007 Edith Piaf biopic La Vie en Rose, which won Marion Cotillard a Best Actress Oscar. However, prestige doesn't guarantee truth, so you have to ask, how accurate is Grace of Monaco?
From the beginning, the film makes its origins clear, as Grace of Monaco opens with the disclaimer, "The following film is a fictional account inspired by real events." It's basically a fancy way of saying, "You're going to see some historical references here, but don't forget it was given the Hollywood treatment." Plus, just think about the logistics. For all of the time Princess Grace spent in the spotlight, there were some private moments that no one else was there for, leaving the movie's writers to fill in the gaps.
So how truthful is the portrayal Princess Grace, Prince Rainier III, and Monaco's conflict with France in 1962? Here's how some of the key parts of Grace of Monaco stack up to those real events.
Princess Grace's Relationship With Prince Rainier
It was like a fairytale come to life. In 1955, Hollywood royalty Kelly met Prince Rainier of Monaco while filming To Catch a Thief, and the two eventually married in 1956. But did Princess Grace and Prince Rainier live happily ever after? Grace of Monaco shows Princess Grace and Prince Rainier's relationship as mostly distant and tense as as the offer of the title role in Alfred Hitchcock's Marnie and Monaco's growing conflict with France threaten to tear them a part.
Grace of Monaco seems to only scratch the surface of Princess Grace and Prince Rainier's strained marriage. It may have actually been worse in real life. They were both rumored to have had extramarital affairs throughout their marriage, as Philly.com explains. Sadly, in the last 10 years or so of Princess Grace's life, the couple lived mostly separate lives, according to The Guardian.
The Status Of Princess Grace's Acting Career
Once Princess Grace married Prince Rainier, she retired from her acting career. However, when Grace of Monaco begins, we see Princess Grace aching to get back to work because royal life just isn't stimulating enough. Alfred Hitchcock himself even drops by her palace in Monaco to ask her to sign a $1 million contract to star in his latest thriller Marnie. For much of the film, it seems like Princess Grace will take the role. However, she later decides to perform her duties as princess and stay with her husband in Monaco.
This may actually be one of the more accurate parts of the movie. "Hitchcock didn't go to Monaco himself, but he did offer [Kelly a role in] Marnie and she did want to do it," Kidman said during a press conference for the film at Cannes in 2014. But actually, even this point is contested. Though the fact that Princess Grace did consider starring in Marnie seems to be widely held as true, as TIME points out, in the 2000 documentary The Trouble with Marnie, Hitchcock's daughter Patricia confirms that her father did go over to Monaco to try to convince Princess Grace to star in the movie, although he was accompanied by his wife Alma Reville in real life. Details, details.
Prince Rainier's Thoughts On Princess Grace's Acting Career
In Grace of Monaco, Prince Rainier is at first pretty cool with his wife jetting off to Hollywood for the summer to star in Marnie. However, he quickly changes his tune and is not such a fan of the project when it seems like Princess Grace's acting career could jeopardize Monaco's relations with France.
There seems to be some truth to Rainier's actions here. It seems that Prince Rainier was never much of a fan of having Princess Grace return to acting. He even banned her films from Monaco after they got married so that she could completely leave her life as an actress behind. "Unfortunately, what happened in between the time she agreed and between [to star in Marnie], you know, it was ready to go, they were having large problems in Monaco. And Rainier finally didn't think it was a good time for her to be gone, and that's why she didn't do it," Patricia Hitchcock said in The Trouble with Marnie.
How Princess Grace Felt About Being A Princess
Royal life is far from glamorous for Princess Grace in the movie. After six years of marriage and the birth of two of her children, the fairy dust has worn off, and she has become bored with her duties and her emotionally unavailable husband. However, she eventually learns to embrace the new life she chose for herself in a wonderfully cheesy montage only a Hollywood film could dream up.
The thrill of being royalty seemed to eventually fade for Princess Grace in reality. In her 40s, she told friends that "she dreamed of becoming a bag lady and wandering the streets of Paris," according to The Guardian. Don't we all, Grace. Don't we all.
Monaco's Conflict With France
Grace of Monaco shows Princess Grace and Prince Rainier dealing with the escalating tensions between Monaco and neighboring France. The movie posits that French President Charles de Gaulle hated the fact that France, which provided military defense and other resources to Monaco, was being hurled into a financial crisis while billionaires were frolicking around Monaco, not having to pay any taxes. De Gaulle plans on blockading Monaco's roads to force it into paying taxes. However, Princess Grace's rousing, patriotic speech at a gala honoring the Red Cross with de Gaulle in attendance finally saves the day.
There actually was such a crisis in 1962. However, it didn't get resolved quite the same way as Grace of Monaco depicts it. No, Princess Grace probably did not stop a war from happening. In fact, de Gaulle didn't even attend an event like this, according to The Guardian. Monaco actually just reached a compromise with France such that French citizens living in Monaco for less than five years were taxed at French rates, and Monegasque businesses doing more than 25 percent of their business outside the principality now had to pay taxes too. Real politics just aren't as much fun as those in movies.
The Existence Of The Minor Characters
In addition to real historical figures like Hitchcock, Greek shipping tycoon Aristotle Onassis, and Greek opera singer Maria Callas appearing throughout the movie, Princess Grace also has a whole team of people behind her without household names, like any good royal should. These include the sour-faced and straight-laced righthand woman Madge (Parker Posey) and Father Francis Tucker (Frank Langella), a priest she confides in.
Madge and Tucker have pretty prominent roles in the film as far as non-fabulous people go, but did they exist in real life? Father Tucker was actually an American priest that served as Prince Rainier's aide even before he married Grace. Father Tucker also apparently helped Prince Rainier find single Catholic girls to date, according to a 1996 article in People. However, Father Tucker has also been credited with playing matchmaker between Princess Grace and Prince Rainier. Princess Grace also had a real lady-in-waiting named Madge Tivey-Faucon, although as Paper Mag points out, the character in Grace of Monaco acts more as an homage to the character Mrs. Danvers in the 1938 Daphne du Maurier novel Rebecca, which was later made into a movie by — who else — Hitchcock.
All in all, Grace of Monaco does provide truthful insight to Kelly's life as a Princess, but you have to remember that it's a biopic, not a documentary.
Images: Lifetime (5); Getty Images (2)