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The Invisible Woman - Abi Morgan interview

The Invisible Woman

Interview by Rob Carnevale

ABI Morgan talks about adapting The Invisible Woman for the big screen and working on the screenplay in Ralph Fiennes’ kitchen. She also talks about the changing perception of celebrity and why getting a close-up view fascinated her. She was speaking at a press conference held during the 2013 London Film Festival.

Q. One of the most interesting things about the film is the way that Dickens appears to be almost a contemporary style celebrity. Was that a conscous strand?
Abi Morgan: I remember going back to the source and I think what is supreme about Claire [Tomlin]’s book is the vitality it has. There is something contemporary in the telling of it, so that for me was very implicit anyway. Second to that, I was working with contemporary celebrity in my kitchen [indicating Ralph Fiennes] writing scenes and inevitably for me that’s a very intriguing position to be in, as someone who is not a celebrity. So, that slightly informed that. On a wider level, and I don’t think Ralph would mind me saying this, he doesn’t read anything, he doesn’t really have a concept of celebrity in the same way – and I was quite intrigued by that. At a time when we’re overwhelmed by gossip and journalistic articles, how do you maintain your private life? And that feels very resonant. And that’s at the heart of Claire’s book. How did this very public man work his way through the complexities of a very complicated domestic life? And you see that in very modern times and it translates. We all have our private lives but like Ralph said, it comes back to the book.

Q. “Life is nothing without good company” is one quote to stem from the film. But for all the socializing that Dickens did I wonder if you think he was inherently a lonely man?
Abi Morgan: I think inherently being a writer at heart there’s an isolation. I think he was often alone. I don’t know how lonely he was, but he was often alone. I think there’s an isolation to his position and an isolation because of his fame. He’s more famous than the Royal family at that time. So that’s a singular experience. I think as a writer, you also have to go out and greet life; it doesn’t come to you. At 6 o’clock I love going to meet someone.

Read our review of The Invisible Woman

Read our interview with Ralph Fiennes