For Davies it was Weisz or no one for Deep Blue Sea
The esteemed director had only one actress in mind for his adaptation
Tom Hiddleston (left) Rachel Weisz (centre) and Terence Davies arrive for the gala screening of the film "The Deep Blue Sea" at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 11. (CP Images)
When esteemed English director Terence Davies decided it was time to return playwright Terence Rattingan's "The Deep Blue Sea" to the big screen, there was only one person Davies wanted.
"I was watching television, which I very rarely do now," recalls the soft-spoken, 66-year-old director in an impromptu corridor sit-down at the Toronto International Film Festival. "And there was this film on. I'd missed the start. This girl came on, and I thought 'God, she's fabulous.' Waited 'til the end of it, and it was a film called 'Swept Up From the Sea' - wonderful film with Vincent Perez.
"And I rang my manager and said 'Have you heard of someone called Rachel Weisz?' He said 'Terence, you're the only one who hasn't.'"
From there, it was a matter of contacting the actress, star of "The Mummy", "The Constant Gardener" and "The Lovely Bones" - and appearing in another movie at TIFF, director Fernando Meirelles' ensemble film "360" - getting her his screenplay adaptation, and hoping for the best.
"She read it," Davies says. "She rang me. I said 'Will you do it? If you say No, I don't know anybody else to approach.' She said 'I'll do it.' That's how it was."
In "The Deep Blue Sea", Weisz is Hester Collyer, the rather impulsive and alternately romantic and unromantic wife of a respected judge (Simon Russell Beale) who leaves her marriage for the squalor and volatility of a relationship with an air force pilot (Tom Hiddleston) oscillating emotionally in alcoholism after surviving the harsh realities of the Second World War. When Rattigan's film was previously adapted for the screen in 1955, Vivien Leigh held the role of Hester, while Emlyn Williams was the judge and Kenneth More played the broken flyer, Freddie Page.
True to Davies' form, his version finds its own place. Music is spare, meaning the scenes -- which are visually painted in the authenticity of the very hard times -- are extraordinarily reliant on the screenplay and its actors. These are times in which ordinary people had to come through the bombings of the wars and the economic hardships afterwards not having time to stop and wallow in all their individual plights, because work had to be done.
"It's that sort of Britain that's gone, as well, that it's trying to recapture," Davies says. "Because it's not like that now. Britain is not like that anymore.
"It's gone. We're in the age of the ego: me and my rights. But no one cares about their responsibilities. When I grew up, it was very strict. When I left school at 15, into an office, it was very strict then. We had to work Saturday mornings, although none of the offices were. I was a mere junior. The clerk above me was 18 and came in one Saturday morning without a tie. They said, you know, 'You don't do that again. This isn't a holiday camp.' It was very, very strict.
"That's gone now," Davies continues. "That's simply gone. Any kind of authority in Britain now is openly despised. And we are the only country in the world that despises its own language. A lot of glottlestopping in the southeast. Somebody said that you just can't understand it. You can't understand it. And they don't care. And that really upsets me. Language is important."