Watch: The cast of Women Talking share their experiences of the film’s austere shoot
Claire Foywho stars in Oscar-nominated Women Talking (in select UK cinemas from Friday), opened up about the everyday things she and the rest of the cast had to let go of while filming the film.
Set in a remote and isolated Mennonite settlement in Bolivia, the film explores the aftermath of a series of horrific crimes in which Amish-like women were systematically abused by the men of their community.
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Director Sarah Polley wanted to reflect the starkness of the location where the story takes place, so the actors weren’t made up. Even natural-looking makeup was not allowed. That was not all. As Foy revealed, “shaving her legs, plucking her eyebrows” was out of the question.
But the actor, best known for his Emmy-winning performance as Queen Elizabeth II in Netflix’s The Crown, saw it as part of the job.
“It’s playing, 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 to be made.
She also admitted it would have been a deal breaker if she had been asked to give up all things food: “It’s the only thing that gets me through the day.”
Co-starring Jessie Buckley felt much the same way, especially if asked to give up coffee.
” Especially in the morning. I wouldn’t get up at 3 a.m. without it! And Ben Whishaw admitted he would have been “angry” if a glass of wine at the end of the day had been ruled out.
However, he added “I think we all understood what this movie was about and we understood what it was going to demand of us.”
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The Oscar-nominated film arrives in the UK on Friday and is based on the book of the same name by Miriam Toews, inspired by true events in Bolivia. Between 2005 and 2009, women from 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 film imagine events after the men have been found guilty of their crimes. The survivors gather to decide their response to the verdict. They have three options: do nothing, forgive the men, or leave their home forever.
Foy recalled how shooting the majority of the scenes on a huge soundstage helped create the sense of community on screen. “We were away from everything most of the time – it was also Covid. So it was a very isolated and strange experience, which I think fueled her.
And Polley explained how the actors spent a lot of time away from the set. “There was this big green room, where everyone was together, like a theater troupe. There was a whole world in that room. At times I felt a little uncomfortable keeping them in pretty austere circumstances most of the time, but it was really good in terms of building that community.
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Women Talking was nominated for two Oscars – Best Film 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, nominated for an Oscar last year for The Lost Daughter, will then be in the cinema in Wicked Little Letters, which reunites her with Olivia Colman. Best known to all as the voice of Paddington Bear, Ben Whishaw’s latest film Passages recently premiered at the Sundance Film Festival.
The film’s impressive cast also includes Rooney Mara, triple Oscar winner Frances McDormand, Sheila McCarthy, August Winter and Judith Ivey.
Women Talking hits select cinemas on February 10 and across the UK on February 17. Watch a trailer below.