Compiled by: Jack Foley
Q. Where did you first encounter the novel?
A. I think Id gone on record and said in an interview
that I would never do another adaptation and one week later, I
was flying to Toronto, to spend some time with Michael Ondjanti,
who wrote The English Patient, and who has become a very close
friend. As I left, he gave me a novel and said: "My publishers
giving me this for you to read and you should take a look at it."
So I put it in my bag and I went home and when I got home there
were two Fed-ex parcels waiting for me, and I opened them and
they were both Cold Mountain. Then I got a call within a few days
from Berkley, where Id been living, and it was someone saying
that he had some galley proofs of a novel called Cold Mountain,
and did I want it sent to me. And I assume that this was some
kind of augury. So it just seemed to keep falling on my head this
book, so I reluctantly read it.
Q. Anthony I assume this was the main reason for picking Transylvania
as North Carolina?
A: I was heart-broken that we had to leave North Carolina
because its a book whose soul is very much about a particular
place; theres a real Cold Mountain and there was a real
Inman and [production designer] Dante Ferreti and I spent six
months looking for locations and planning the film in the place
it was set, and then the budget came in and the plug was pulled
and I was really distressed about having to go somewhere else.
But, as is always the case with movies, theres always a
blessing attached to the curse. And the reality was that if I
could have got the additional monies I needed to go back to North
Carolina, I wouldnt have done, because what I found in Romania
was something so consonant with the film, and so beautiful and
untrammelled, and obviously the thing to say about Transylvania,
is that it hasnt been the recipient of, or hostage to, the
industrial revolution, so what youre seeing is this virgin
So when Jude is learning to plough by hand in one field, theres
someone ploughing by hand in the next field. I remember driving
past a field full of people scything the harvest and it really
was like time travelling.
Everything about that area, which made the film beautiful and
difficult to make, I felt in front of the camera was so extraordinary.
And Dante Feretti was able to create a foreground that was entirely
made by him every farm, we grew every crop, every corn field,
every tobacco field; we built every single building thats
in the film. He can build the foreground, but no designer can
create the background. And what was wonderful was to be able to
use this, it just goes on and on forever there, and it was an
extraordinary place, with extraordinary people who were very good
Q. One of the most remarkable achievements in the film is
the romantic tension thats sustained through very little
dialogue and very few scenes. Obviously thats down to casting,
directing and writing, but was it ever a concern for you that
people had to buy into the reality of Inman being driven on his
journey by Ada?
AM: I remember when I was researching The English Patient,
and I kept reading about wartime romances and war brides, and
this strange thing that happens, that when death is very close
at hand, life becomes very urgent and it accelerates relationships.
People cling to each other, people cling to life in the face of
cruelty and death. It feels to me that in these periods all the
volume controls are turned up: The camaraderie and compassion
exists with enormous illustrations of violence and lack of tenderness.
There were stories of soldiers returning from the Second World
War and being greeted by a sea of faces of women at the barricades,
and not knowing which one they married four or five years previously.
It felt very true to me, that part of the story.
But also, I would say this, that first of all, these characters
are very conscious of the fact that they hardly know each other,
its the thing that pre-occupies them. Theyre holding
on to the idea of something good in the face of something bad.
Q. Nicole, does that raise the stakes for you and Jude in those
few scenes you have?
A. It was certainly something that the three of us talked
about, because it was really like a triangle in terms of Anthony,
Jude and I, when we embarked on this together. It was a strange
coming together when we had the rehearsal period.
Jude and I were like, okay, how do we make it believable,
when we would literally share, at most, a kiss and glances and
the occasional minute touch of a hand, and then make it believable
that that would stay present in someones head and be their
light for such a long period of time and draw them back.
I would constantly be saying to Anthony, are you sure weve
got enough? And it was more up to him to know what hed
captured, because I think we were both so existing in it, that
youre really in the hands of the director.
And I hope, you hope, that people will buy into it, that people
will believe it. Its also an idea that Jude and I bought
into, as we were basically passing ships in the night, because
he would be carrying one part of the film, and I would go back
to America, and then I would come back and he would go back to
London, so we were constantly crossing in the night.
But we would constantly say to each other, hold it, remember it
in the scenes, the presence of each other. Because we were both
very much aware of trying to feed that into each scene, to the
point where you feel snow and you remember Inman, that everybody,
somehow, has a presence of the person, that youre still
seeing the world through there eyes. Which I think is when you
are existing with the thought of someone, you view the world with
them, even if theyre not there.
AM: I wrote this moment, when Ada is reading from Wuthering
Heights, about the love of Kathy and Heathcliff (Little
visible delight, but necessary.) And that seemed to be the
clue to the character.
But also, we werent simply trying to make a love story,
and I think if we had, wed have approached the film differently.
The relationship between Ada and Ruby is at least as significant
as the one between Ada and Inman. And the fact that theyre
both on journeys, and their journeys collide, is important ,and
it was also the case that Jude is on an odyssey to get home. Ada
stands in for home. In the same way that there is a real Cold
Mountain, theres a series of Buddhist poems called Cold
Mountain, which is a spiritual destination.
If youll allow me to at least say there are other things
going on in this film, one which is to look at how people find
redemption, and how they find atonement, and the whole emotion
of walking and journeying, in the same way that a pilgrimage in
the medieval period was a penance that you did to be allowed home.
That was very much in my mind in the film, as well as the simple
romantic connection between a man and a woman.