Category: Archive

Passion play

February 17, 2011

By Staff Reporter

Based on Patrick McGrath’s novel and directed by “Young Adam” director David Mackenzie, the film stars the Tony Award-winning actress as an unhappily married, 1950s-era woman who has an affair with a handsome mental patient (Marton Csokas) at the psychiatric hospital where her husband (Hugh Bonneville) works.
“For this movie to work, I knew the (love scenes) had to be very hot and very real. It wasn’t the case of doing Hollywood cheating with a nice bit of sheet,” the 42-year-old actress told reporters in New York last week. “I signed up for that and I thought that was right, but it didn’t make it any easier to do.”
Richardson said that while watching the film with Neeson during a recent screening, she “slid so far down” in her seat because she was nervous about his reaction to her sex scenes.
“It was agonizing to watch those scenes with him next to me!” she recalled with a shudder.
So, was this film payback for Neeson’s sex-themed biopic, “Kinsey”?
“Yes!” she laughed. “Exactly!”
Richardson said she first fell in love with McGrath’s gripping page-turner several years ago.
“I could not put it down,” she declared. “I immediately thought this would make a great movie and this is my part on film. I just felt I’ve explored some of this kind of emotional terrain on stage and I’ve always wanted to be able to do what I’m best at on film and I didn’t feel that I’ve really been given that much of an opportunity in film to do that and I thought this is it-this had my name written on it.”
The “Cabaret” star said that after reading the book she immediately started making calls to see who owned the film rights to the novel. Then one night, shortly after she learned that there were plans to make a film, she ran into McGrath in a restaurant where she and Neeson were dining.
“I thought maybe he was coming over for an autograph or something and he said: ‘I hear you liked my book. My name is Patrick McGrath,'” she said. “I was like: ‘Yes! In all the joints in all the world.’ It was that kind of moment. I didn’t realize it would take so many years and so much struggle and so many setbacks to actually get it made and it’s kind of miraculous they let me play the part and didn’t kick me off, which I’m sure they would have liked to have done at some point, to get a big name, Nicole Kidman or someone.”
In the early stages of planning, Neeson was attached to co-star in the film. But a decade of false starts led the “Michael Collins” actor to abandon the project.
“Basically, it was something I was always much more passionate about than he was,” Richardson confided. “But he was going to play Edgar and we were sort of a team, but it took so long and there were so many setbacks. Finally, when it was green-lit, he had decided to do another movie, so he said, ‘Go with my blessing.'”
Fresh from her success in the Broadway revival of Tennessee Williams’ “A Streetcar Named Desire” and nearly finished with her promotion tour for “Asylum,” Richardson said she plans to take a brief break from playing emotionally damaged women on stage and screen to spend some quality time with Neeson and their children.
“Having played Blanche Dubois on Broadway for five months and prior to that being in Shanghai shooting ‘The White Countess’ for three months, I just feel, artistically, I need to recharge the batteries,” the mother of two confessed. “I feel I need to let my family take priority for the net few months, so I don’t think I’m going to work for the rest of the year. I think I’m going to have to take a rest from sex-addicted, chain-smoking, alcoholic, crazy ladies for a while.”
Filmed in England and Dublin, “Asylum” is now in theaters.

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