Compiled by: Jack Foley
Q: Were you always going to film in Kenya?
FM: Actually the first idea was to shoot in South Africa.
So we went to Kenya for five or six days to visit the country
and then we went to South Africa to see how we could reproduce
Kenya in South Africa. When we got to South Africa on the second
morning we were having breakfast and we felt it was not the right
place to shoot, so we decided to come back to London and try to
persuade the distributors and the insurance company to let us
shoot in Kenya. I was planning to use real places with real people
and this would be impossible to do in South Africa. The second
problem was the book was banned in Kenya and the way it featured
the high commission was not the best way, so we thought we could
have some resistance from the government but no they really helped
us. I think in the end the Kenyan government knew we were going
to shoot any way, in Kenya and in South Africa, and they thought
that at least doing it in Kenya would bring some visibility to
the country, and jobs and help their film industry, so they allowed
Q: How did you make Rachel look pregnant - was it make-up,
prosthetics or trickery?
FM: It is a mixture of prosthetics and some CGI afterwards.
It looks good doesn’t it?
Rachel Weisz: There was some CGI, I didn’t
Fernando: But it looks good, a lot of people
have asked me if it was real.
Rachel: Yes a lot of people have being asking
me....I’m a method actress! [Laughs]
Fernando: The make-up artist wanted to kill me
because I said I was never going to shoot Rachel; from behind
- because that’s where the prosthetic was stuck on. Then
that was how our shot was but I said I would fix it on post and
Q: How important is the political element in the film
that might make audiences think?
A: I think there already have been debates and the public
wants to know what’s going on. The film will just add pressure
to that momentum - can we have more transparency please in the
way that these companies work and governments work with them?
I hope people come out of the film feeling a mix of things...
they have been involved and absorbed in the relationship between
Justin and Tessa AND alongside that
they come out wanting to know more.
Q: What do you want audiences to take with them as they
leave the cinema?
A: Of course there is the love story but awareness of
the pharmaceutical industry is interesting. This industry has
two sides...it produces amazing pills and our lives get better
because of good drugs but at the same only a small population
of the world can buy those pills. They now have good product and
they can charge whatever they want... it was a very good villain.
I was especially interested in the pharmaceutical industry because
Brazil is now breaking some patents, especially from some drugs
to cure Aids in the last four years. So there is a lot of pressure
from this industry and I have been following this in the front
pages of Brazilian newspapers for years. That’s why I was
so interested in this specific business.
Q: How moved were you by
what you saw in Africa?
A: Everyone was touched but Simon Channing Williams the
producer, was really touched so as soon as we started working
on the film he created this charity in Nairobi and he immediately
started doing things in Kibera. So first he built a bridge to
link two parts of Kibera and then he built a couple of water tanks.
This is the biggest problem in Kibera, there’s no water.
Now he is building a school in north Kenya. Since we finished
shooting he keeps going back and forth to Nairobi and he is really
involved in this charity, raising money for this work. And he’s
now trying to convince Focus to donate a share of the profits
from this film for this charity.
In the end we all got a bit involved but Simon is still working
on that. Focus already helped a lot.
Q: How closely involved were you in casting?
A: I didn’t cast Ralph. Ralph was attached to the
project before me because Mike Newell was supposed to direct.
So in this case it was the other way around, he had to approve
me. It’s true. You agreed to do a film with Mike Newell
and then you had to be asked. Then it was a very quick process
to cast not only the actors but the crew as well and I did not
know many British actors.
So I was watching piles of tapes every day. To play Tessa? The
first person with whom I met was Rachel and this was when I got
to London we had a meeting and I was very impressed. Since then
I spoke to lots of actresses but I never took Rachel out of my
head and in the end I came back to Rachel.
Q: Why cast Pete Postlethwaite and Donald Sumpter who
have small but vital roles?
A: I knew Pete before because his face is so strong that
once you see him once you never forget. All the other actors I
watched films with them. I was also really impressed by Gerard
McSorley, an amazing Irish actor, it’s a pity his part is
so small. I would have loved to have had two or three more scenes
to let him play.
Bill Nighy is fantastic. I met him 10 minutes before shooting
because he was shooting The
Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy, so I didn’t
even speak to him on the phone. He came to the set, he was late
I said ‘Hello Bill, I’m Fernando please get dressed...’
I knew his work but it was very different from the character I
was asking him to do.
Q: Are you concerned that Africa may be this year’s
A: For some reason Africa is now getting some attention.
There are a lot of films coming out that are shot in Africa...
The Last King Of Scotland, which is about Idi Amin; Ridley Scott
is to produce Emma’s War in Sudan; Leonardo Di Caprio is
starting to shoot something in Liberia; Brad Pitt is going to
do a big film in the Ivory Coast. Which is all very good - it
gives some visibility to this continent which has been forgotten
Q: What was security like on location?
A: It was much safer than filming City Of God. We didn’t
feel any pressure or anything. This time was much easier. I remember
one afternoon we were so relaxed that we walked for one hour shooting
with Rachel, Cesar, and the sound guy. They would talk to people
and everyone was so kind. It was much more relaxed than Rio. There’s
no drug dealing so I think this was what made it much easier.
Related stories: Read
Ralph Fiennes interview
Rachel Weisz interview