Watch: The cast of Women Talking share their experiences with the film’s austere shots
Claire Foy, who stars in the Oscar-nominated Women Talking (in selected UK cinemas this Friday), has opened up about the mundane things she and the rest of the cast had to give up when the film was made.
Set in a remote and isolated Mennonite colony in Bolivia, the film explores the aftermath of a series of gruesome crimes in which the women of the Amish family have been systematically abused by the men of their community.
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Director Sarah Polley wanted to reflect the austerity of the location where the story is set, so the actors were kept makeup free. Even natural-looking makeup was not allowed. That wasn’t all. As Foy revealed, “shaving our legs, plucking our eyebrows” was out of the question.
But the actor, best known for her Emmy-winning performance as Queen Elizabeth II in Netflix’s The Crown, considered it part of the job.
That’s acting, isn’t it? You have to imagine that they have no electricity, that they have never learned to read and write. There is an intellectual leap you need to make.”
She also admitted that it would have been a deal-breaker if she was asked to give up anything with food: “It’s the only thing that gets me through the day.”
Co-star Jessie Buckley felt much the same way, especially when she was asked to forego coffee.
“Especially in the morning. I wouldn’t get up at 3 am without it!” And Ben Whishaw admitted that he would have felt “annoyed” if a glass of wine had been excluded at the end of the day.
However, he added, “I think we all understood what this movie was about and we understood what it would demand of us.”
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The Oscar-nominated film arrives in the UK on Friday and is based on Miriam Toews’ book of the same name, inspired by true events in Bolivia. Between 2005 and 2009, women in the Mennonite religious community were drugged and raped at night by nine men from the colony.
Watch a trailer for Women Talking
Both the book and the movie depict events after the men are found guilty of their crimes. The survivors gather to decide on their response to the verdict. They face three stark options: do nothing, forgive the men, or leave their homes forever.
Foy recalled how shooting most scenes on a huge sound stage helped create a sense of community on screen. “We were removed from everything most of the time – it was also Covid. So it was a very isolated, strange experience, which I think is factored into it.
And Polley explained how the cast spent a lot of time off set. “There was a big Green Room, where everyone was together, like a theater company. It was a whole world in that room. Sometimes I felt a little bad because I often had to keep them in pretty austere conditions, but it was really good to build that community.
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Women Talking has been nominated for two Oscars: Best Picture and Best Adapted Screenplay for Sarah Polley. She was also nominated in the same category for her directorial debut, Away From Her, in 2008.
Jessie Buckley, an Oscar nominee for last year’s The Lost Daughter, is next in theaters in Wicked Little Letters, which reunites her with Olivia Colman. Passages, the latest film from Ben Whishaw, best known to everyone as the voice of Paddington Bear, recently premiered to critical acclaim at the Sundance Film Festival.
The film’s impressive cast also includes Rooney Mara, three-time acting Oscar winner Frances McDormand, Sheila McCarthy, August Winter and Judith Ivey.
Women Talking will be released in select cinemas on February 10 and in the UK on February 17. Watch a trailer below.