#JoanaVicente, #KateWinslet, #SaoirseRonan, #TIFF, #Ammonite, #Films, #WorldCinema
Toronto, Oct 11 (Canadian-Media): During one of the conversations series organized by the 2020 Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), executive director and co-head of TIFF, Joana Vicente catches up with Hollywood stars Kate Winslet and Saoirse Ronan in Francis Lee directed 'Ammonite'. The romantic drama is inspired by the life of 19th century British palaeontologist Mary Anning (Kate Winslet) who was in an all-consuming same-sex love with geologist Charlotte Murchison (Saoirse Ronan).
Kate Winslet and Saoirse Ronan
Asha Bajaj brings you excerpts:
To Kate: Your performance is both beautiful and powerful. How did you approach the character of Mary, who was so brilliant, and yet struggled with the constraints of being a woman and a scientist in 19th century England?
Kate: Women's purpose at that time was to only get married to a man in order to have a life and a livelihood. Being poor, Mary did not marry a man in order to lift herself out of poverty. She continued to do fossil hunting taught by her father and felt that by doing this work she was honoring her father’s memory who was long dead. Not accepted by society, and left to work alone led people to believe she was rebellious or demonstrative. I approached the situation by learning fossil hunting for about a month by working with paleontologists and also got arts training from artists since Mary was a good artist.
To Kate: What was most challenging for you during the filming?
Kate: My most challenging part was embracing Mary’s stillness. Being an animated person, I had to train myself from not moving all the time. Like Mary, I also had to keep myself aloof. The daily routine I followed was to go home, make soups, write and work scenes for the next day, and go to bed until the routine became anchored in me, which helped me to stay rooted in Mary. It also reduced my anxiety and nervousness about enacting same-sex relationships every day or being panicked thinking about people’s reactions to my accent and to my role. I kept reassuring myself that the things I had planned to do and discuss with Francis would hopefully underpin me throughout.
To Kate: What was the chemistry like with Ronan?
Kate: Finally, when Ronan and I started real rehearsals, it was clear that our collaboration would be fun, and rewarding. Having met before and been familiar with each other’s way of working, building our friendship was quite seamless.
To Ronan: You play geologist Martienssen like a real person. What was your approach to this role?
Ronan: It progressed through preparation when Francis and I started talking once or twice a week a month about our relationships, enabling us to take a dip into Mary (played by Kate)'s everyday life. It was important to remember that this was just an imagined version of these people's original stories and their lives and we were giving it a life of its own. I started keeping a diary of Kate, writing down various simple facts like her relationships with family and friends so that when we started rehearsals, we already knew Mary well. Kate and Francis laid more emphasis on my role which built her up.
To Kate: What was your realisation playing a character in love with a woman?
Kate: Although both Ronan and I enjoyed the whole experience, it made me emotional and I questioned myself [on] how I allowed myself to be steered by writing in the past when I had been a part of something that has been a male and female relationship. So often the part of a romance is a man taking the woman and the woman allowing herself to be taken. It made me feel mad at myself. Have I done that? I am used to speaking for myself. I am strong. But things tend to automatically happen in writing when it is about a heterosexual couple in an intimate setting. There was something so incredibly equal about this that it made me feel quite emotional, grounded, and safe. We are women, and women know what they want. So there was a sort of shorthand that we already had that was fantastic and definitely helped.
(Compilation by Asha Bajaj)