Friday, September 02, 2005

On fate and fleamarkets

Before we get to the article, a public service announcement: The Philadelphia Story is closing tomorrow! If you're in London - or the British Isles - or the European continent - or elsewhere in the Northern Hemisphere - go see it. Saturday night appears to be sold out, but there are still tickets for tonight and the matinee tomorrow.

N.C. mother, daughter nominated for Tony award in same category
By Martha Waggoner
3 June 2000
Associated Press Newswires
Copyright 2000. The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

RALEIGH (AP) - The serendipity is a little overwhelming for actress Rosemary Harris.

Both she and her daughter, Jennifer Ehle, are nominated for a Tony as best actress in a play. The awards ceremony is Sunday in New York; the next day, a movie opens in which they not only star together, but portray the same character at different ages.

And in May, Ehle received the Theatre World Award for "best newcomer," an award Harris won in 1952.

"I don't know if anybody follows biorhythm charts any more, but if they do, I think they'd find our charts are running side by side at the moment," Harris, 72, said this week in a telephone interview from New York.

The Great Britain native is married to North Carolina author John Ehle ("Journey of August King"), and they make their home in Winston-Salem. Jennifer Ehle lived in Winston-Salem for the first 18 years of her life and attended the North Carolina School of the Arts, which her father helped found.

Harris is nominated for her work in Noel Coward's "Waiting in the Wings," which closed at the end of last month. Ehle, 30, nominated for her role in Tom Stoppard's "The Real Thing," has declined all interviews about the mother-daughter nomination, her publicist said.

On Monday, their movie, "Sunshine," which stars Ralph Fiennes and William Hurt, opens in the United States. The movie, set in director Istvan Szabo's native Hungary, is the story of the Sonnenschien (Sunshine) family's life during World II, the Holocaust and afterward.

"Again, it was fate, I suppose," Harris said of the mother-daughter casting. She and Fiennes had met at a fund-raiser where they read together from a book of sonnets. Szabo knew Ehle through a mutual friend.

As the two discussed casting, "apparently, Istvan said, 'I know somebody I want to play the younger Valerie,"' Harris said. "And Ralph said, 'I know somebody for the older Valerie."'

The movie was filmed in sequence, so Harris and Ehle were not on set at the same time.

Harris, who won a best actress Tony in 1966 for her role in "The Lion in Winter," is more excited about Ehle's nomination than her own. The mother-daughter nomination is nothing she ever envisioned.

"Actors have anxiety dreams about things going wrong," she said. "I don't know what the opposite is, maybe a fantasy dream, but in this case, it's real."

Harris and her husband, who has bought a new tuxedo, will attend the awards ceremony together, while Ehle will sit with her cast. Instead of donning the jewelry loaned to nominees, Harris plans to wear a necklace she bought at a flea market. Ehle tried to talk her into getting a new designer dress, but Harris said she likely will attend in a dress she wore to her niece's wedding.

"I might be more comfortable wearing something I've worn before that I know I can sit around in all evening," she said.

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