After the heat of Hollywood, JULIA ORMOND faces the chill of Europe in Smilla's Feeling For Snow.
Words: Sophy Bristow
Julia Ormond looks great in fur and moon-boots. which is lucky because her new film. Smilla’s Feeling For Snow. is set in the Arctic. ‘l’m not very good in the cold, which I don’t think I told the director before we started.’ says the 32-year-old. clearly glad of the accessories. ‘It got down to minus 25° and I was absolutely terrified that l’d just get complete lockjaw and freeze.’
Bille August. the director in question. chose Ormond for the part because of her ‘vulnerability and sensitivity’. but the actress isn’t the delicate flower you’d imagine. Not only did she survive sub-zero temperatures. she also performed her own stunts while playing a snow expert drawn into a murder case. ‘If there is an element of risk. why should somebody else take that?’ she asks. ‘For me. to have a certain physical agility is part of being an actor.’
A former art and drama student in London. Ormond’s film credits so far include Captives. with an incarcerated Tim Roth. and Peter Greenaway’s infamous The Baby 0f Macon. rolling around with a bloodied Ralph Fiennes. She has also had starring roles opposite some of Hollywood’s biggst names. In Legends Of The Fall she comforted Brad Pitt through multiple family deaths and fell for Harrison Ford in Sabrina. In First Knight. Ormond. Sean Connery and
’If there is an element of risk, why should somebody else take that? For me, to have a certain physical agility is part of being an actor.’ Julia Ormond
Snow business: Julia Ormond in Smilla's Feeling For Snow
Richard Gere were part of a medieval fantasy of goblets and turrets that only Hollywood could have realised. She admits that such famous faces can sometimes be daunting.
‘lt’s a bit like you’ve got a massive crush on someone and you start fumbling over your words,’ she explains. ‘But you have to get over that as quickly as possible. otherwise you can’t function properly as an actor.’
It’s a long way from all of this to Greenland. but the Epsom-born actress maintains that Smilla is not a conscious attempt to break away from huge budget American movies. ‘lt’s just kind of happened like that.’ she says. ‘I tend to just look at the scripts that come in and chose the best project that I see. It’s great to be someone who’s motivating the film to the extent that Smilla is. The more screen time you have, and the more circumstances that a character goes through. the more you have to show what you can do as an actor.’
Ormond’s future plans involve continuing to develop such interesting female parts through acting. producing and directing. At least by choosing her own projects she can minimalise the risks of typecasting. something which has worried her in the past. ‘People remember you for the last thing you did.’ she explains. ‘After my first part as a drug addict. I spent weeks receiving nothing but more drug addict parts.’
So maybe she won’t now have to play an Eskimo for the rest of her life. Reassuring for someone who doesn’t like cold weather.
Smilla’s Feeling For Snow opens in selected cinemas on Fri 31 Oct. See review.
The column that takes a peek over Hadrian's Wall.
THE LONDON FILM FESTIVAL has undergone a bit of restructuring over the past twelve months - with a new programming team under debuting Director Adrian Wootton - and it's a rejuvenated 41-year-old event that gets ready to unveil its goods on Thu 6 Nov. The opening gala sees Richard E. Grant and Helena Bonham Carter in a big screen translation of George Orwell's semi-autobiographical novel Keep The Aspidistra Flying, which firmly hoists the Festival's pro~8ritish flag.
Scotland stakes its claim on the London bash with Simon Donald's cinema version of his play The Life Of Stuff (premiering on Mon 17), which features Ewen 'Spud' Bremner in a story about a bunch of thugs trying to get one over on Glasgow's top drug dealer. Bremner's other Festival appearance is also in a play-turned-film: Mojo, lez Butterworth's controversial trawl through London's gangland of the 1950s.
Also being seen for the first time on UK soil is The Winter Guest, Alan Rickman's first film as director, shot in Fife and set in a Scottish coastal town where a widowed photographer's grief becomes an obstacle in her relationship with her mother. Art imitates life as Emma Thompson and real life mum Phyllida Law play the women.
Well received at the Edinburgh Film Festival, Scottish director Gillies Mackinnon's World War I drama Regeneration screens on Sat 8. Adapted by Alan Shiach from Pat Barker’s novel, it features in its cast Trainspotting's Jonny Lee Miller and Twin Town’s Dougray Scott. Actor John Hannah scores a hat trick with Northern Irish thriller Resurrection Man, bitter-sweet comedy Romance And Rejection and dysfunctional family drama The James Gang.
Soldiering on: Jonathan Pryce in