Both Jeremy Northam who plays Ash, and Jennifer Ehle who plays Christabel experienced working in period films, so they were a great benefit; not just as great actors, but as people who had experience working on a film of that kind, where I had never worked in a period film before.
This was a fantastic house that we shot in with these initial scenes of Ash meeting Christabel. It’s funny when I watch these- when you look at how much you pair away as you edit- this was a much longer scene in which Ash and Christabel kind of verbally spar, but, um, in that quest to make things ever tighter, and faster, and smarter, and more fluently told as a story, you often pair things back. That was really the introduction of Jennifer Ehle into the story, and she’s such an amazing actress; she’s, ah, beyond the obvious magnetic qualities she has as an actress, she’s so bright, and makes such interesting choices; uh, she really was the only choice I put forth as Christabel, she was the one I was most hopeful of getting in the role. And Jeremy Northam, too, made such an excellent Ash, I just felt like they, not just because they had been in period films, but they just conveyed the weight of the times for the Victorian era, and I believed them as writers and as people who were challenged by their lives and the choices they made.
(About Blanche and Christabel playing the piano) This was a scene that the girls were quite frightened of, because they had to pretend to play the piano and that often strikes fear more than anything else in the heart of actors, when they have to pretend they know how to play an instrument, so mercifully it’s short- we didn’t shoot anything much longer than that, but, ah, even that caused them great concern in how they were going to look real.
(About the tipping over the table scene) Now, this was one of my favourite scenes between Blanche and Christabel, just because of the kind of coiled fury that you can see. And Jennifer Ehle has such great passion, and, ah, you can see in her eyes, she acts with her eyes often- they’re so expressive- they way in which she studies her and the pain she feels, and the anger at her lover at this moment and this kind of explosive- (JE tips over the table) - that sort of just came out of something that Jennifer wanted to do there, that came out of the moment of rehearsal of ‘I wanna tip this over’ until we accommodated it all it was something a little different on the page, but um, she just wanted to show that um, people 150 years ago weren’t averse to turning over tables, or, because it was a very strict, sort of décor of society, it didn’t mean that people didn’t have outbursts of passion or anger, and so, um, that was an exciting choice I think she made.
(Scene on the train) I love the simplicity with which these two actors played this scene. This was actually shot on a set and you’d never know it, but ah- they just are so wonderful with saying so little. They etched indelible portraits of these poets in a very short period of time.
(At the waterfall) This was a lovely transition from one actress to the other. Two actresses, who I came to find, knew each other because they both had actors for parents- for mothers certainly… (later) but it was interesting to find out that Jennifer and Gwyneth had known each other at a younger age due to their mothers.
(Train platform scene) This is a beautiful tear that comes from Jennifer Ehle here, and it’s just a hard tear that falls from her eyes. I think she’s one of the best ‘cryers’ that we have in movies, ah, she’s one of the best we have of everything in movies- she’s really exceptional.
(In France) I loved the way that Christabel looked in that particular scene as well- she’s amazing in a wordless scene, how she can convey so much.
(The part where she’s mean to cousin Sabine) This is one of my favourite scenes, I love the way Jennifer looked, ah, with the red hair, and green dress, and all the green around her, and just the determination on her face- I thought it was quite lovely.
(At the séance) The exchange here between Ash and Christabel, I though was particularly vibrant- and the way that Jennifer looks when she’s staring across the table at ash, and the fury that Ash responds with here in a moment, I thought was really exciting, and again one of those moments that made it feel very modern…