Frances Shea, the niece of gangster Reggie Kray’s wife, has told of the family’s anger over the forthcoming biopic, ‘Legend’.
She says that her aunt, who was also called Frances, or Franie for short, is painted as a 'two-bit trollope’ in the film, which stars Tom Hardy playing the roles of both Reggie and brother Ronnie Kray, the infamous gangsters who ruled London in the 1960s.
The family was given a preview screening of the movie, but had not been asked for any input by the movie’s writer and director, Oscar-winner Brian Helgeland.
Shea, 52, says that as a result, the Franie featured in the movie, played by Australian actress Emily Browning, is conjured from Helgeland’s 'own vivid imagination’ rather than from he essence of the real woman.
Speaking to the Daily Express, she said: “I had to leave at a certain point. I could feel my daughter sitting next to me throughout that film and I could feel her sobs.
“[Franie] provided the narration throughout the film sounding common as muck and looking like a little two-bit trollope.
“One of the first thoughts of the director should have been the descendants of the people he was portraying in the movie.
“It’s not alright to come to the East End and dip your toe in for a month or two and then think you know the whole East End story, while picking up information from people that are not the most reliable.”
Franie Shea’s story was ultimately a tragic one.
*Possible plot spoilers ahead*
After meeting Kray, who was 10 years her senior, at her house – her brother worked as a driver for the twins – they soon fell in love and married.
But having suffered mental health problems, she took her own life with an overdose of pills at the age of 23.
Shea added: “I was mortified to see the huge part that my Franie was given, the film seemed to play around her as she provides the narration throughout.
“I want to know if Mr Helgeland thought about contacting living relatives of her to get a real picture of what this woman was like.
“I have nothing against the cast of this film, Tom Hardy and Emily Browning are great actors, but they did not have the right ingredients and they did not catch the essence of any of the people I remember, my father, my aunt and my nan.”
Shea’s daughter Bonny, 26, who was at the screening, said that the depiction has caused her stress and anxiety, having been diagnosed with bipolar disorder six months ago.
“The plot of the film is based on a book The Profession of Violence by John Pearson. I have read that they researched it by speaking to a couple of people, but they have not contacted anyone from the Shea family, not one of us,” she said.
“I emailed everyone I could find connected with the film to raise my concerns and not one person got back to me.
“Because no-one was interested I ended up quitting my job through the stress, I am having anxiety attacks, I barely sleep, I feel vulnerable.
“I used to stand up tall and proud when I said my name was Bonny Frances Shea, but that is going to change now.”
So far Helgeland nor the film’s producers have commented on Ms Shea’s remarks.
Image credits: Universal/Rex Features