“The Invisible Woman” London première in London was simple and elegant as it is the movie.
Just a red carpet under a little fall of rain outside Odeon in Kensington High Road.
On the carpet we met the composer Ilan Eshkeri (Trinity, Stardust, From Time to Time, Coriolanus, I Give it a Year, Austeland), the screenwriter Abi Morgan (The Iron Lady, The Hour, Birdsong), Dickens’ wife Joanna Scanlan (Stardust, The other Boleyn Girl, In the loop), the marvelous Felicity Jones (Chalet Girl, The Amazing Spiderman 2, Theory of Everything) and the great Ralph Fiennes (Schindler’s List, The English Patient, The Avengers, The Reader , Great Expectations).
How did you work on the soundtrack?
I didn’t want to get away from the story, I wanted the music to be considered from the point of view of the characters. So I asked myself: which kind of music Dickens listened to? And I started my researches and I found an amazing music library in London where you can find what was fashion or not in every history period.
How was working with Ralph Fiennes?
There is something when you write for an actor-director. It is different because he knows what an actor needs when he reads the script. This was a great marriage.
How was writing from a book that already exist but that otherwise from your previous work Birdsong, in this case it is not a novel?
It’s fascinating because you know Dickens’ novels but here you discover things that you never imagined. For example it’s strange think that he was really famous in his period…you don’t ever think that when you read his books. He was like a rock star. And it’s wonderful to dig inside your “hero” life, it’s like be part of a spell.
What can you say about your character?
I went out the audition and I read the script. The first thing that I thought was: this is going to be very sad. But I think that it’s stimulating to be a sad and dramatic character, it’s something different.
There is this intense scene between you and Felicity during her birthday party. How did you work you two on it?
We spent the day alone in the room. It was very quiet. Just the two of us and our lines. I looked at her sat on that armchair and I thought: right she is going to be a mistress but not necessarily there will be an happy ending for her. I thought about it when we shot the scene.
And Ralph, he was the director but also the actor. How was working in this situation?
Well, in the movie also his character is a director and an actor. So it wasn’t so strange. The things worked really well.
Did you do some researches about Catherine?
I did some researches but not too much. I tried to listen the writer and the screenwriter and after I put something that was mine in the character. I thought that if you learn a lot about her probably you become very angry about what happened and about her life. But in the script she is really elegant and sophisticate. She is upset with the fate but she never loses her dignity.
She plays Nelly Turner, Dickens’ mistress. When she approached, I realized how stunning she is. Just like on the screen. At that moment I understood why the choice fell on her. Nelly Turner tells his story with her eyes, and in this, she is so perfect and natural that could not be made better choice. When I met her after the movie in the restroom room and I talked to her I was so surprised about her kindness and manner.
What you think about your character?
Nelly is a girl who fight for her independence so, every time, I asked myself: what would Nelly do in this case? I spent a lot of time in the house where Nelly grew up, she lived in a cottage in North London, in Islington and I tried to lower myself in her life. And after I did the same thing at the Dickens’ Museum.
Ralph and Kristin Scott Thomas back together after years and they are close friends. Was strange to be part of this long term relationship?
Oh, yes. There was a moment in the read room when I was sitting between the two of them and I thought: I’m in the middle of something and I’m invisible…so I understood Nelly for the first time, maybe (she laughs).
How was working with Kristin, but this time to be in charge?
(He laughs) Amazing…I mean working with her again, I wasn’t in charge..we made a compromise. She saw Coriolanus and she wanted to be part of a movie that I would direct. So here she is.
Did you dislike your character?
No, no. When I read the script I felt that I wanted to protect Dickens. Sure, I don’t like how he treated his wife but I wanted to show also the good in him. And there was a lot of good in Dickens.
Why you picked up Felicity Jones as Nelly?
Nelly is really deep, she is always quiet and she said a lot with her eyes. Felicity has a quality where the camera is interested in her face.
The Invisible Woman opens on February 7.