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The White Countess in our magazines

THE MOVIE: The White Countess

Ralph Fiennes • Natasha Richardson • Vanessa Redgrave • Lynn Redgrave
DIRECTOR: James Ivory

Ralph Fiennes and Natasha Richardson THE CONCEPT:
In 1936 Shanghai, the elegant nightclub ‘The White Countess’ is the setting for a strange relationship between a blind former diplomat and a beautiful Russian countess, reduced by circumstances to support her family in unusual ways…

U.S. RELEASE: December 21 2005, Limited
• Rated: PG-13


“I liked the screenplay [Kazuo] Ishiguro write. It’s very complex, with developed, rounded characters and an interesting background, Shanghai in 1936-37. I loved the character of Jackson, I thought it was a great, great role. Like a rich character from a novel.”

“If anybody told me there was another company like [Merchant Ivory], I’d be amazed to hear it; there isn’t any equivalent to them and what they do. With Merchant Ivory, you have an opportunity to do a role that really interests you and that you care about deeply.”

“I read this script, all this romantic sweeping epic that I thought was kind of Casablanca-esque and kind of Dr Zhivago. I fell hook, line and sinker for the whole story and the characters. It’s a wonderful part.”

“I was the last Redgrave to be cast in this. Natasha had talked for some time about a film she was going to be doing in the future with Ralph. Then Vanessa said, ‘You know I’m going to be doing that film with Natasha.’ All of a sudden, I get a call from Ismial [Merchant] saying, ‘You know this film we’re doing with Natasha? There’s a role for you.’ They told me what the story was, and gave me the screenplay, but I probably would have said yes even if I hadn’t read the very brilliant screenplay, because that was too good [filming in] China, Vanessa, Sasha, Ralph – why would I say no if I was available?”

“I’m not blind, so I couldn’t identify with that. I tried to. But he’s a kind of a bruised idealist and I could identify with that. I think we’d all like to believe, like Jackson does, that perhaps people could stop killing each other for a start. When you get to over 40 and people are killing each other still around the world and blowing each other up, it gets a bit depressing.”

“[The Redgraves] have always wanted to work together; it was just finding the right opportunity. I never felt self conscious, I felt like they were there to support me, they wanted me to do the best possible work, and that they were really watching my back, so to speak. I thought it might be a bit difficult at first, because it was a professional working situation, and I thought, ‘Oh, does this mean that we’re going to be together all the time, or if I’m going out to dinner with my friends, will I have to bring my mother and aunt too?’ [she laughs] But it just all evened out, and most evenings we were back eating Chinese food and sitting at the hotel together.”

Written by Judy Sloane. Back to top

Images above ©
Feature © 2005 Visual Imagination.
Not for reproduction.

Film Review, #665, January 2006 cover

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