(in no particular order)
Date: Wed, 18 Nov 1998 16:36:46 +0000
To: Fiennes Mailing list
Subject: [Fiennes-fans] OT: my "Elizabeth" article (PART 1)
By popular demand, I am posting my "Elizabeth" article to the list.
Because of it's length, however, I am breaking it up into 3 parts.
For all you Geoffrey fans: what I don't mention (professionalism, you
understand) were the absolutely lovely extensions he was sporting when I
talked to him, which he had me run his fingers through . . . I tell you,
I was drooling even though he insisted he looked like "an aging dried up
"I always knew that the perfect boy is a girl."
- Todd Haynes, 1998
WAXING MODERN ON "ELIZABETH"
By Lisa Y. Garibay
Shekhar Kapur does not want to be a period director. Geoffrey Rush does
not want to be a period actor. Neither believes that their latest
feature, Elizabeth, is a traditional period film. And both men present
very convincing arguments in their favor.
The choice of Kapur was a surprise (if not a shock) to many when he
became attached to direct the story of one of the world's most
legendary, notorious, and loved leaders. Born in 1945 in Lehore,
Pakistan, Kapur moved to England in 1970. He first entered the film
business as an actor (landing several major roles in Indian films), and
went on to produce a number of television commercials and host a BBC
talk show called "On the Other Hand." His directing credits include
Time Machine (1995), Joshilay (1985), and Masoom (1983). He is most
known, however, for his 1994 feature Bandit Queen, the controversial
story of Phoolan Devi, a low-caste Indian woman who survived gang-rape,
marriage at age 11, and living as a bandit. She was eventually captured
and sentenced to 10 years in prison for killing 22 high-caste men. Upon
the film's release, Devi sued Kapur for what she believed was an
inaccurate and slanderous portrayal, and attempted to have the film
banned. She did not succeed and Bandit Queen went on to international
acclaim for its stunning forthrightness and originality.
Now Kapur has directed Elizabeth, his first English-language feature.
His interpretation of one of the most amazing lives in history is as
visionary as his past work. The film stars Cate Blanchett as Queen
Elizabeth I, Joseph Fiennes as her lover Lord Robert Dudley, Christopher
Eccleston as the conniving Duke of Norfolk, and Geoffrey Rush as the
mysterious Sir Francis Walsingham.
Kapur has gained a reputation of unconventionality, which is one
explanation for producers Eric Fellner and Tim Bevan's daring choice.
Bevan and Fellner have their own history of devotedly pursuing unique,
independent projects, with astounding results. Their company, Working
Title, has produced such hits as My Beautiful Laundrette, Four Weddings
and a Funeral, Dead Man Walking, and Fargo.
When asked how he got the job, Kapur replies, "They asked me." He
laughs before continuing, "I was so shocked by the fact that Eric and
Tim offered me Elizabeth that I said yes immediately ? there was no time
for me to think about it. It was a pretty outrageous decision on their
part, which is really what attracted me to them."
As much as Elizabeth is about someone who changed history, it is not,
for Kapur, anything like a traditional historical epic. "I hate
history. I've always hated and been bored by the formal way of costume
drama, and I'm much more interested in human beings. So, to me,
Elizabeth was a breathing, living, contemporary human being. She was
contemporary to her times. If you're talking about a human being in a
certain environment then it becomes a fairly modern portrayal. And when
I went out to make Elizabeth that's something I really wanted to do."
It isn't just the story behind the film, or the story being told, that
make this film so powerful and unique. The technical aspects,
particularly the camera work, are compelling as well. Kapur says, "The
reason for that camera, the way it moved all the time, comes out of the
fact that I was very keen to create the world as Elizabeth saw it.
There were so many conspiracies and plots and counterplots that I could
not explain them in one film. Because the plotting was so complex, I
decided to represent that emotionally through the camera. So I, in the
camera, because the prime conspirator. The camera was like a serpent,
constantly looking, twirling around, encircling, looking through windows
and in corners, listening, waiting for a time to strike. This goes on
until Elizabeth makes her decision … In the end, the only person who
could control the camera was her, with her own power. The camera in the
beginning ? me, the prime conspirator ? became the most loyal subject,
and finally looked at her, static, held by her power, in the end."
Kapur believes that the story is much closer to human nature than to any
period in time. "There's this whole thing of having to make a choice
between the need to survive and therefore finding that the only way that
you can survive in this jungle, this world, is by having power. But
then you're always constantly questioning, thinking, does that mean I
have to be more ruthless? Does being more ruthless mean I have to be
less sensitive? Does being less sensitive mean that I cannot give of
myself to other people? If I cannot give so much of myself to other
people, can I love? Can I be loved? Do I have to give up being loved
individually and in a human fashion and just go for universal acceptance
and respect and become the icon? These are all very contemporary
themes." For Kapur, these issues are also very personal. "The kind of
parallels I found between myself, even as a man, and her, were quite
amazing," he says.
Date: Wed, 18 Nov 1998 16:36:58 +0000
To: Fiennes Mailing list
Subject: [Fiennes-fans] OT: my "Elizabeth" article (PART 2)
PART 2 : WAXING MODERN ON "ELIZABETH"
By Lisa Y. Garibay
Kapur chose to cast this film with actors of the highest caliber rather
than the greatest box-office draw, to complement what he felt was a
story of timeless inspiration. "The good thing about Tim and Eric was
they just gave me free reign on most things, including casting. For
Dudley, I met lots of actors and then I met Joe Fiennes, and he was the
one so I decided on him. Chris was my Duke of Norfolk ? he was
perfect. And Cate I saw quite by chance ? I just happened by accident
to see the promo reel of Oscar and Lucinda while I was in Eric and Tim's
office. When I saw Cate then, I decided that she was Elizabeth. It was
lucky for me, she was so great."
Another choice was Geoffrey Rush, the Oscar-winning star of Shine. Rush
portrays the enigmatic Walsingham, who is not your archetypal villain or
hero, but an intriguing duality. The character is devoted to Queen
Elizabeth, so much so that murder and treachery are not ruled out as
means of protecting her.
"When I first read the script, they offered me the role, which was very
flattering," says Rush. "But I turned it down for so many reasons
because I thought, well, this is such a genre-English-costume-biopic. I
couldn't project myself into it."
But lucky for Kapur and Elizabeth, Rush reconsidered the project as a
whole, including the mindset of those involved. "Shekhar didn't set out
to make a radically stylistic film. He said to everyone, 'We just have
to look at the bare-bones and the elements of this story… She's only a
25-year old woman ? think about that!' The poster in England says,
'Declared illegitimate at 3, imprisoned at 23, crowned queen at 25.'
And it makes you think, that's kind of an interesting adulthood!
"Shekhar really wanted to focus on the impact of that story being about
the woman, and not being bogged down with the trappings of the
conventions that those sorts of movies have layered up over the years.
If you start out with that premise, that affects how you cast it, how
you treat it, and what kind of attitude you have to it." Rush laughs
and adds, "He wasn't thinking, 'I'm going to make a Spice Girls movie
about Tudor times.'"
Date: Wed, 18 Nov 1998 16:39:53 +0000
To: Fiennes Mailing list
Subject: [Fiennes-fans] OT: my "Elizabeth" article (PART 3)
PART 3 : WAXING MODERN ON "ELIZABETH"
By Lisa Y. Garibay
Rush also felt that the film reinforced the purpose of his career. "My
goal as an actor is to re-define clichés. This film is a great exercise
in digging into a level of drama that highlights the life back then,
when there were people who had power and people who were powerless.
We're revealing it the way it was in ways that you can identify with,
without having to trick it out in some gimmicky sort of way."
Rush himself has established a career trail of unusual, groundbreaking
cinema. When it debuted, the $6 million Shine was just one of many
independent films struggling for attention. But Shine was the one that
exploded with international acclaim, critics' prizes, and awards
worldwide, including the Academy Award for Best Actor. Rush's heart and
interest still lie, though, in the kinds of films that cause a stir or
defy conventions. He has found most of these films in his native
Australia, where the film industry has a very different function and
"The sort of films I've done in Australia, and I suppose particularly
Shine, have very different structures. In Australia, the guiding force
is not the marketplace. I've never worked in the commercial arena
before. Everything I've done has been part of a structure that is
government funded, that is there to provide a service to an audience
that won't support it. Government funding will support it so that [the
audience] can keep in contact with various golden ages of literature.
That's so not the ethos of mainstream American filmmaking."
Now that he has the world's attention and in acting in the Hollywood
structure, Rush has a bit to say about it versus his background. "On
the other side, there's also that great pop cultural aspect of American
filmmaking, which I find really wonderful. I think it's probably
diminishing ? the more the years go on and the bigger the blockbuster I
sort of start to think, "Well, this is just a PlayStation game . . .
some are not even witty or funny or sharp or camp or interesting.
They're just fodder."
As an Oscar-winning actor, there may be more at stake for Rush now that
everybody's watching. "There's a little part of my brain that says, 'Be
responsible.' But I'm not flag-waving or anything. I still work on the
same criteria of how I've always chosen jobs. You chose them because of
the team. I did Shakespeare in Love because when I read that script, I
was two pages into it and said to myself, 'I have to be in this movie!'
The script was so alive and so sharp and lean and electric and witty.
"I happened to end up in Elizabeth with such a diverse group of British
actors, and now I count myself so lucky because I'm doing The Mystery
Men at Universal, and I seem to have been parachuted down into the best
of American character actors. I mean, we're going to be alphabetically
billed on this film! How many Hollywood films get alphabetically
billed? It's fantastic!"
Rush's outspoken yet dedicated attitude towards original storytelling
was a terrific match for Kapur's vision for Elizabeth. His portrayal of
the ruthless Walsingham is mesmerizing; the character is utterly
unpredictable and the perfect match for Elizabeth without overpowering
her. But his agenda is so subtle that you might find yourself asking,
is he good for her or bad for her? "That's a good question. We wanted
to tread that really fine line between them. There are four men in
Elizabeth's life in this movie; the other three men have a very
orthodox, prescribed path. For Norfolk, she's an adversary; for Cecil,
she's a protégé; and for Dudley, she's a lover and a childhood friend.
They all want so much from her. We wanted to play Walsingham as sort of
a counterpoint to that. He's somebody who asked her questions, who was
a mentor, a provocateur. From an Indian director's point of view, as
Shekhar kept saying, 'He's like Krishna.'" Rush laughs heartily at the
memory. "I thought, no, he's not, he's a puritanical English bureaucrat
who sets up a great espionage network!"
Rush is appreciative of the recognition he has received, but most proud
of the work he has been able to do in the projects he has been a part
of. He reserves special praise and thanks for the independent side of
filmmaking, where he has done much of his work. "It's great that there
are little pockets like this in Hollywood," he says of the IFP
organization and its support of independent filmmakers. "They do so
much to tell great stories that wouldn't get out there otherwise."
[Shakur Kapur isnow working on his next project, the film adaptation of
Nelson Mandela's autobiography, Long Walk To Freedom. Elizabeth is
currently on screens in New York and Los Angeles, and opens across the
U.S. on November 20. Geoffrey Rush is filming Universal's "The Mystery
Men", directed by Kinka Usher and starring Ben Stiller, William H, Macy,
Hank Azaria, and Janeane Garfalo ; "Shakespeare in Love" will open in
New York and Los Angeles on December 11, and across the U. S. on
From: KinkyBootz@aol.com Save Address Block Sender
Date: Mon, 23 Nov 1998 21:19:18 EST
Subject: [fiennes-fans-news] OT: upcoming Joe films...
OK, a whole gaggle of Joe news, most of it from across the pond (I'm beginning
to wonder if some our U.K. list members aren't reading this stuff when it goes
to press and just lurking with news in your pocket. ;-) )
I suppose basic related things might be considered SPOILERS, so here goes...
Daily Variety, 11/18:
LONDON --- Entertainment Film Distributors, the U.K.'s leading indie
distrib, is continuing its push into production by fully financing the British
black comedy "Rancid Aluminium," directed by Edward Thomas.
Rhys Ifans, Joseph Fiennes and Tara Fitzgerald head an ensemble cast
including Sadie Frost, Steven Berkoff, Nick Moran and Keith Allen.
Pic, which started shooting Tuesday, is based on the cult novel by James
Hawes, who also penned the screenplay. It's the story of a London businessman
whose company and marriage are on the rocks and who gets mixed up with the
Russian mafia in his attempts to save the day.
This is the third recent Brit pic to be principally financed by
Entertainment, following "Up 'n' Under" and "This Year's Love." Entertainment
has also provided cornerstone pre-buys for such current productions as "Mad
Cows," "Somme" and " Onegin."
From Baz Bamigboye (Daily Mail) , Oct. 23rd:
TARA FITZGERALD is joining the lads. Ms Fitzgerald (above) will play a
Russian sex goddess who enjoys dealing in roubles and hanky-panky as part of
her involvement with the Russian Mafia.
The movie, which starts shooting next month, is called Rancid Aluminium
and is based on the novel by James Hawes. It's perfect for the cool lads'
culture that has been taken up by the cinema so breathtakingly in Guy
Ritchie's Lock, Stock And Two Smoking Barrels, which has garnered more than
$10 million at the box office in Britain since it opened last month.
In Rancid Aluminium, Joseph Fiennes will star as a Mob accountant
betraying his associates and indulging in a hot love life.
Cheating on his wife, played by Sadie Frost, the money man enjoys the
attentions of Ms Fitzgerald's character, who is the daughter of a Russian
Rhys Ifans, Nick Moran and Keith Allen appear with, and (it really hurts
to say this), Dani Behr. Argh!!
Messrs Fiennes and Moran can also be seen at the Royal Court Upstairs at
the Ambassadors Theatre, London, in Nick Grosso's play, Real Classy Affair
More Baz, 11/13
* JOSEPH Fiennes is gearing up for his first American movie, a romantic
thriller being filmed in Florida next year.
But his good looks will be hidden behind layers of special makeup because
the character he plays - a Latino banker to the Mob - has to hide his
Called Forever Mine, the picture is being directed by Paul Schrader, the
man who wrote Taxi Driver.
In the film, Fiennes is shot by the husband of the woman he loves played
by Gretchen Mol. But he returns 13 years later: disfigured, disguised and
Fiennes, who can be seen in Real Classy Affair at the Royal Court
Upstairs (at the Ambassadors), until tomorrow, starts shooting Forever Mine
after he completes the Russian mafia movie, Rancid Aluminium.
Lynn's Humble Tribute to Ralph & Joseph Fiennes
Lynn's Wuthering Heights page