The position of Flay, Lord Groan's taciturn and deeply devoted manservant, is threatened when Steerpike escapes the kitchen. Taunted by the young runaway, Flay mistreats one of Gertrude's cats and is banished from the castle. During his years in exile, he continues to watch over young Titus Groan, finally returning to protect the legacy of Gormenghast.
Horror movie legend Christopher Lee (The Curse of Frankenstein, The Lord of the Rings) is the sole member of the production to have known Mervyn Peake personally. "I used to meet him at the old Harrod's Library when it still existed," he recalls. "He was a charming, delightful man, very quiet, reserved with beautiful blue eyes, good-looking, very gentle -- obviously an extraordinary man. He invented a world and a language and almost a race of his own."
Lee's menacing presence in roles from Scaramanga in James Bond to Dracula in the Hammer Horror movies has made him a recognizable face around the world. But playing Flay pushed him to new limits. "From my point of view, it is one of the biggest challenges I have ever had. Flay does not talk like ordinary people; he does not come out with grammatical sentences. He just says things like 'you, here, no.' It is not easy to get over what I mean when I have got very little opportunity to say many words. I have to get this brutal, at times savage and unforgiving, but also very gentle and loyal figure across. It is a huge test."
In Peake's words:
Mr. Flay appeared to clutter up the doorway as he stood revealed, his arms folded.... It did not look as though such a bony face as this could give normal utterance, but rather that instead of sounds, something more brittle, more ancient, something drier would emerge, something more in the nature of a splinter or a fragment of stone. Nevertheless, the harsh lips parted. "It's me," he said, and took a step forward, his joints cracking as he did so. His passage across a room -- in fact his passage through life -- was accomplished by these cracking sounds, one per step, which might be likened to the breaking of dry twigs.
-- Titus Groan, "The Hall of the Bright Carvings"
|Steerpike | Groan | Gertrude | Titus | Fuchsia | Flay
Swelter | Nannie | Barquentine | Clarice + Cora
Dr. Prunesquallor | Irma Prunesquallor | Bellgrove
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