Natasha Richardson: Asylum Interview

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"From the moment I read this book…I just couldn't put it down. I was so gripped by the story. I thought it would make a great movie. And I just had a total empathy with this woman; this character. I thought…I've got to play her. This is my part."

BSN: What made you hold on to this film when you were originally supposed to do this with your husband, Liam Neeson, but then a change came in? What made you hold on with such a grasp?

NR: From the moment I read this book…I just couldn't put it down. I was so gripped by the story. I thought it would make a great movie. And I just had a total empathy with this woman; this character. I thought…I've got to play her. This is my part. I thought that it would be chance for me to explore the territory that I'm best at and I've been able to fulfill that on stage and not so much on film. So, for all those reasons I said I cannot—even though there are so many struggles to get this made

BSN: Do you feel your character was mentally ill from the start or was damaged by the events happening to her?

NR: I do think she's a bit damaged to start with. A little frazzled.  You can tell by the way she behaves that she’s a potentially loose cannon. I think she's probably, already, an alcoholic when the movie starts and becomes progressively more so. Personally I think she is somebody who's been pent up for so long with this unhappy marriage. This suffocating society was true to a degree in the states but more so in England where, women of that class didn't have jobs. There's no outlet for intelligence. No creativity or her sexual personality in this marriage. So, it's like an accident waiting to happen in a way. When people hold that in, pent up, it doesn't take much to snap! In the end I just couldn't let it go. There is no dramatic license here.

NR: How difficult was it to complete this role?

NR: Well, it was difficult. We were under a great deal of stress financially. We had to shut down for 4 months. It' amazing
on how so long it took to get this film made. Now we’re half way there and we're shutting down. Are we ever going to get going again? In terms of emotional wear and tear? There was a lot of it. But in the end it's so gratifying to do the work you love. The sex scenes; I mean, they’re going to be so hot and so real, and yet this woman feels a bit defiled, like a prostitute in some way.

BSN: In one of the best scenes where Stella's son dies; the director doesn't come back to it. He doesn't explain it; as a character, what do you feel happened in that scene? And why didn't you do anything?

NR: I feel that she is in such a place of … depression. But she's like in a haze of thinking about this life and this guy and she is actually so much in that fog that she's not seeing what's happening right in front of her. And that she suddenly snaps out of it. I don't she is sitting there thinking, 'oh look there goes my son. He's drowning.'

BSN: Mr. Neeson said the recipe to marital success is to argue all the time with your spouse. So, do you think the character thought ‘if I had just argued with my husband this would have never happened?’

NR: I think it's a time where women were pigeonholed into being nice little wifey wifey. And have coffee mornings and do what your husband says. And you know, you’re put into this little box. And obviously she's a woman who wants to communicate. Who wants to explore. And has an adventurous mind. Her husband is a repressive…and certainly doesn't have the imagination to deal with a woman like this.

BSN: Entertainment media is just really over the top right now. The story is written that you were coming out of a restaurant and tripped and fell. And that you carried make up in your bag. What are your thoughts and comments on that?

NR: That was really a horrible incident because I was walking out of this restaurant and there was one step. Under normal circumstances you would see the step, but if you walk out the restaurant and 12 flash bulbs go off in your face, and I tripped because I was blinded by the paparazzi cameras and I fell. And my make up, everything fell from my purse all over the floor. And not one of these charming people with their cameras does the gentlemen thing or be nice to a fellow human being and say ‘are you ok? Can I help you up?’ But watch me scramble around…

 

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