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The Constant Gardener - Rachel Weisz interview



Compiled by: Jack Foley

Q: There seems to be genuine contact between you and the children and the scene when they are chanting ‘How are you?’ doesn’t appear scripted?
A:
It wasn’t scripted at all and that’s really to do with the way that Fernando and Cesar, his cinematographer who also shot City Of God, work. Cesar is holding a very small hand held camera and I am in character as we are walking into Kibera and the children just came running up to us saying ‘How are you? How are you?’
Their first language is Swahili so this is one of the first things that they learn to say in English. We caught it on film and they weren’t actors or extras, Fernando hadn’t told them to say this. So it was really to do with the way that Fernando and Cesar work that they managed to capture what was there.

Q: You looked blooming as a pregnant lady, how did it feel when you looked at yourself?
A:
I loved being pregnant! I find pregnant women to be very beautiful. It’s nature isn’t it.

Q: Because you had worked together on Sunshine did that help with your collaboration on The Constant Gardener?
A:
I had wanted to work with Ralph before that first time. I had always wanted to work with him at the very beginning of my career. So it was a real honour and a privilege to get to work with him again and I hope we get another chance. He is an incredible actor and you were the best husband. He is a complete joy to work with and I loved every moment of it.
Luckily we also both liked to experiment. We shared that desire to play around but it is a lot to do with the way that Fernando and Cesar work. They allow you complete spontaneity and freedom and don’t hem you in by saying you have got to hit that mark. It is the actor’s job to try to stay free - even if there are technical constraints but with Fernando he would let you try whatever you wanted and Cesar would be there following you with a camera. It’s tremendously freeing.

Q: How important is the political element in the film that might make audiences think?
A:
To me, first and foremost, I think the film is a very entertaining thriller and a very original love story about two people who are complete opposites. I think you rarely see that. The woman is very volatile and likes to rock the boat and the man is completely the opposite, a diplomat and more reserved. I loved that aspect that the love story and the thriller are completely dependent on one another. They are not separate things.
As Justin discovers the thriller aspect he also falls more deeply in love with his wife. I hope it raises a debate about some very pressing topics. If you open the papers then every day there are going to be articles about Africa, about the pharmaceutical industry and hopefully it will raise the debate.

Related stories: Read our review

Ralph Fiennes interview

Fernando Mereilles interview

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