A captivating love story showcases how two people can truly get lost in each other, and only really find themselves for the first time ever, as they spend more time together. No matter how long of a period they’ve known each other, soul mates can find the best aspects of themselves in the presence of their true love. That unbreakable bond, which only fortifies when the lovers transcend all constrictions, is showcased in the fantasy mystery drama, ‘Winter’s Tale,’ the adaptation of the book by the same name by Mark Helprin. The film, which was penned by Academy Award-winning screenwriter, Akiva Goldsman, who also made his feature film directorial debut with the movie, spares no resource to emphasize the importance of love.
‘Winter’s Tale’ follows a troubled anti-hero, the master thief Peter Lake (Colin Farrell), who’s trying to secure one last score before he flees Manhattan from his former mentor, the demonic Pearly Soames (Russell Crowe), in 1916. After breaking into the Central Park mansion owned by newspaper editor Isaac Penn (William Hurt), Peter unexpectedly meets his daughter, Beverly (Jessica Brown Findlay), who has a deadly form of consumption. The two instantly fall in love, and he tries to desperately save her life. The one-time burglar would do anything to protect Beverly, both from her illness and Pearly’s desperation to tear them apart.
Almost 100 years after their initial struggle to the death, Peter and Pearly meet again in New York in 2014. Pearly is still upset he wasn’t able to truly stop his former protégée’s destiny and true love, and sets out on another mission to bring Peter down. This time, the devoted worker of Lucifer uses magic to try to stop Peter from protecting a young girl, Abby (Ripley Soho), and her mother, Virginia (Jennifer Connelly), who he’s also destined to save.
Farrell, Findlay, Connelly, actress Eva Marie Saint and Goldman generously took the time recently to sit down during a press conference with journalists at New York City’s Crosby Hotel to talk about ‘Winter’s Tale.’ Among other things, the cast and writer-director discussed how the movie is a fairy tale for adults, as they also need a sense of hope, so they can escape the realities of the horrors of the world; how love can help promote peace and harmony within a society and a persons’ individual existence; and how the actors related to, and understood, their characters’ needs to fully embrace and live their lives, as they don’t know where they’re going to end up next.
Question (Q): What did you all enjoy the most while making the film?
Eva Marie Saint (EMS): Colin Farrell! I loved to see his beautiful love scene with Jessica Brown Findlay. It brings tears to my eyes.
Jessica Brown Findlay (JBF): For that love scene, what I found stupendous was the naivety and joy of the moment, and how love is new to both Beverley and Peter.
Colin Farrell (CF): I thought that creating that scene, where there’s an authentically profound sense of human touch, was special. I also loved working with Eva Marie Saint. I was aware of her work since my early teens. I cherish the opportunity to work with actors who have had such rich experience in the industry, and Eva Marie has worked with (Elia) Kazan and (Alfred) Hitchcock. I love her to the bones simply as a human being.
Akiva Goldsman (AG): The beauty I found in the making of this film was this particular genre. I love that the film is drenched with magical illusion, which can either come across as delightful or aversive. So naturally it drew me in. I liked the potential of making a film with a secret message, that could nod and wink to people who have had a loss.
Q. How was filming that the love scene?
JBS: It’s a beautiful moment. I suppose Peter and Beverly are aware of finding the naivety and joy of it, and it’s a really special moment for the both of them. It’s new in a sense that its true love in its highest sense. For Beverly, it’s something she never ever thought would happen-she never thought someone who’s not asked to love her, like a family member, would love her. She’s found true love from a stranger, and it becomes something beautiful.
AG: No matter how professional an actor it is, it’s never comfortable filming love scene.
CF: I don’t know that I agree. Maybe it’s awfully sleazy of me, but I do think that human touch, in whatever form it comes in, as long as that form is one that is mutually compassionate and respectful, is a really gorgeous thing.
If it’s an atmosphere of absolute artifice, it’s not romantic, and it’s never going to be sexy. But if two people who are involved in it are on the same page, taking care of each other, there are worse days in the office.
Q. The story has a lot of elements like destiny, sci-fi, touch of religion between good and evil. What did you enjoy the most and or least about the exploration of those themes?
AG: ‘Winter’s Tale’ starts off as the very illusive genre of magical realism, which is not something we do typically as Americans. Its coexistence of a series of dramatic scenes in a fly-by is either delightful to you or not. The movie has a secret message, and it’s a link and a nod to people who have lost and the need to believe in magic.
Q. Do you think love is sometimes overrated, which is why we sometimes need Valentine’s Day to remind us of it?
CF: I don’t think it’s overrated, but the importance of it may be underrated. It’s prevalence in a singles person’s life, or in the life of a shared community, can also be underrated. It can make incredible changes and can promote the idea of peace and harmony within a society or within a persons’ individual existence.
(Farrell begins singing ‘All You Need Is Love.’) I think love has to be the one thing that defines us as human beings and our ability to care for each other. Through acts of compassion, it also demonstrates our concern for our fellow man.
I don’t even know what Valentine’s Day is about. It’s an excuse for…well, it’s whatever you make it. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with flowers and chocolate, but it shouldn’t take such a commercially promoted holiday for people to extend themselves with gestures of love. I think love is what makes it all spin.
Q: The movie is an unabashed fairy tale that’s not one for children. When do we get too old for fairy tales, and why are they necessary for us as adults to see?
AG: I agree this is a fairy tale for grownups, and I think that’s what we set out to do. The reason it’s a fairy tale for grownups is because life is not that simple. Life actually includes loss and life doesn’t end with loss. Life requires life beyond loss and this movie is a Hail Mary to faith. The idea that even though it doesn’t turn out the way the story book promises, there’s a story behind it all that we can find.
Q: This movie makes a point of saying every person has a miracle. Have any of you ever witnessed something that you would construe as a miracle?
EVS: I think that if you find the right person in your life and you fall in love, that is a miracle. I met my husband on the subway. That’s a miracle.
JC: I have never seen a flying horse of anything of the sort, but have seen things that are miraculous to me. But they’re not qualified as bonafide miracles. I know it’s a horrible cliché, but I have three children, and they are each miracles to me.
Q: How did the adaptation process of the novel occur?
AG: The book is very long, as it has 800 pages, so it had to be condensed very much. I basically started writing an outline from my memory, so that a distilled version would span out. I used my own memory and imagination as a template. There is also a lot of science in the novel that has a more complex notion of light and its grammar in form of magic. The book shows there is a world behind the world that is discussed, which I try to show.
Q. In what way can you all relate to the characters?
JBF: I liked the idea that Beverly is someone who has accepted everything that will come will come quickly. She’s also alive but not living, but at the end of her life, she ends up living more than some of us are ever lucky enough to live. She sees things in such a beautiful way that’s incredibly brave.
CF: My character has solidified a suspicion that I already had-I think I’m okay with life being defined more by mystery than certainty, because certainty had done nothing but get me into a lot of trouble. My own certainty and my own ideals, my own attachments, but I’m ok. You know, the older I get, the more I’m reaching and hoping and aspiring to know less and less and less.