The Wings of the Dove: About The Cast

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Helena Bonham Carter (KATE)

Helena Bonham Carter is one of Britain's brightest talents. She first caught the public imagination in Trevor Nunn's "Lady Jane" (1984). Though still at school, the experience confirmed her desire to act, and she subsequently gained wide acclaim working for the directing/producing team Merchant-Ivory in "A Room With A View" and "Howard's End." She has worked with Franco Zeffirelli on "Hamlet," with Kenneth Branagh on "Mary Shelley's Frankenstein" and she has proved herself to be highly adept at comedy, appearing as the snobbish art dealer married to Woody Allen in his "Mighty Aphrodite." Last year she worked with Nunn again, in the acclaimed production of "Twelfth Night." She has recently completed Robert Bierrnan's "Keep The Aspidistra Flying" and Paul Greengrass' "Theory of Flight" in which she plays a victim of Motor Neuron Disease.

Other films include, "Where Angels Fear To Tread," "Fatal Deception," "Getting It Right" and "St. Francis of Assisi." Her television credits in Britain include "Absolutely Fabulous," "A Dark Adapted Eye," "Dancing Queen" and "Arms and the Man."

Helena Bonham Carter is also a gifted stage actress. Her theatre work includes "Trelawney Of the Wells," "The House of Bemarda Mba," "The Chalk Garden" and "The Woman in White."

"What attracted me to the role of Kate, and what makes it such a difficult one, is that on paper, in the description, she really is quite a mi," explains Bonham Carter. "I kept on thinking that it was the kind of role Bette Davis used to play, deliciously unsympathetic, but alluring at the same time. Kate uses Millie and is totally culpable for what she does. But at the same time - and this is what makes her so interesting - there is such an ambivalence about her motives. It is not clear exactly why she want Merton to fall in love with Millie. Is it that she, Kate, and Merton would get something out of this liaison. Or is it that she wanted to give Millie, one last fling at life by giving her her lover." As the actress points out, "Kate doesn't have much of an option in life in one way. She has been trapped into a situation by her father's circumstances. She is being emotionally manipulated by her aunt, who in effect dictates who she sees, and so therefore, she in turn becomes a manipulator."

It is such complexity of characterization that draws Helena Bonham Carter to literary adaptations. "The characters are already fully developed, multi-dimensional. It is much harder to develop one straight off in a screenplay. Plus the great novels of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries are full of exceptional female characters who are often more enthralling than women in contemporary stories." As Bonham Carter reflects, "If you think about it, every heroine in a period piece is a heroine because they are modem for their time, and often go against the constraints of the society that they are living in."

Bonham Carter is particularly fascinated by Henry James since he touches such dark depths. "He was incredibly cynical and very much drawn to the less attractive side of human nature - the way people use each other as currency. I think that we can all recognize that, and that is what makes THE WINGS OF THE DOVE so relevant. There is a little bit of Kate in all of us."

Linus Roache (MERTON)

Linus Roache made an outstanding big screen debut playing the lead in Antonia Bird's awardwinning "Priest." In the same year he came to wider public notice in the UK, starring in the popular BBC drama, "Seaforth." Previously he had enjoyed a distinguished acting career in theatre, performing for such prestigious companies as the Royal Shakespeare Company, the Royal National Theatre and the Royal Court. His stage roles have ranged from Edgar in "King Lear," to the title role in "Richard II," and Clive Harrington in "Five Finger Exercise."

Linus Roache has also appeared in, among others, "Black and Blue," as Vincent Van Gogh in the BBC drama on the artist and "Keeping Tom Nice" for the BBC. He was also cast in "Saracen" for Central Films. His other films include "No Surrender" and "Link." "What I love about THE WINGS OF THE DOVE is its subtleties. It really deals in depth with the dilemmas that the characters are in, rather than coming up with glib answers," explains Roache. "There is nothing cut and dried about it." Roache, who returns to the big screen after a sabbatical following his bravura performance in "Priest," was particularly excited about the role of Merton when he read it. "He is caught in a huge moral dilemma, but it is one of his own making. He could get out at any point. It almost seems like he doesn't think about it enough - he just gets swept away, bit by bit. There is something incredibly painful in that."

"Merton starts out as quite an ordinary fellow, an everyman of sorts. He is this very committed journalist, involved in writing about injustice. I thought a lot about the kind of things that he might have read - I expect that it would have been the new wave of fiction and political pamphlets. He is very much a thinker, the kind of person who was excited by the new ideas that were around at the time and who himself was helping to redefine society. But then Kate comes along, and everything changes as he becomes hooked. He finds fulfillment, not through his work, but through this romantic, intense love affair that he is not allowed to have. He thinks about her all the time, it is a yearning for fumiirnent through another person, and we can see how self destructive that is, for it is fulfillment through another person whom he can't really have and who is keeping him at bay, anyway. Such wounded individuals are mcredibly challenging to think about and play."

Roache is also attracted to the film's exploration of what love can mean. "It isso very interesting in the film it is seen as something that can be a very generous act, in which one person can really give to another, but at the same time is also about having and taking. It examines just how individuals can be destroyed by that. That is what makes itso profound." -

Alison Elliott (MILLIE)

Alison Elliott has swiftly established herself as one of the hottest American actresses of her generation, starring most recently in the award-winning "The Spitfire Grill." Previously she had garnered a reputation on both sides of the Atlantic playing Virginia in the BBC/ Masterpiece Theatre adaptation of Edith Wharton's "The Buccaneers." Her performances in Kevin Costner's "Wyatt Earp," in which she was cast as the wife of Morgan Earp, and in Steven Soderbergh's "The Underneath," in which she played opposite Peter Gallagher, also met with critical acclaim.

Elliott started out modeling as a teenager, working on fashion shoots in Tokyo, Paris and New York, where she was under the supervision of the Ford Agency. Mter graduating from high school, she decided on an acting career and moved to Los Angeles. Almost immediately, she was offered a role in the TV sitcom "Living Dolls." tier omer television work includes the starring role in HBO's Emmy award-winning film, "Indictment."

"I was really surprised, though obviously delighted, when I was offered the role of Millie. I thought that she was shorter and sweeter than me!" confides Elliott. "I had this image of someone small, with a squeaky voice and in a corset. But as I started working on the script and got past the surface assumptions that she was this angel figure, a little goody-two-shoes, I found her far more complex. She can't be thought about as an 'angel in the house' figure, otherwise you get this ethereal, irritating human being. I thought about the issue of her health, what it means to be alive, what it means to love, and I started to see her as a human being who comes from a real place. It is absolutely necessary for me to find a personal connection with a role, and though at the beginning she seemed to have nothing to do with me, I began to find out what we had in common."

Elliott is very clear that Millie and Kate should not be pitted against each other as good girl I bad girl. "If I was in the audience I would be rooting for Kate, for after all she is the underdog, while Millie has everything. But I think that Millie is a bit wiser than she initially seems. There is this innocent quality but maybe as well there is something that has had time to grow, indeed she has had to grow up so quickly. She is a little more accepting and embracing of people and their faults."

Elliott researched her role considerably, reading various medical journals of the times and talking to doctors about the kind of illness that Millie had and how it would affect her. "One does one's research to get a grasp on the character, but it shouldn't get in the way of the person, in the same way that we thought about the etiquette of the periods just to give some flavor to it. If one becomes obsessed with the detalls it just becomes a mannered exercise in reconstruction." As Elliott points out, one should think about the roles more metaphorically. "It is important to relate to the characters as people."

Elizabeth McGovern (SUSAN)

Elizabeth McGovern was at New York's prestigious Julliard School when she was discovered and cast to play Timothy Hutton's girlfriend in Robert Redford's Academy Award-winning "Ordinary People." She followed that auspicious debut by playing Evelyn Nesbit in "Ragtime," for which she received an Academy Award nomination. Her other credits include "Once Upon a Time in America," "Tune In Tomorrow," "The Handmaids' Tale," "Racing with the Moon," "Me and Veronica," "King of the Hill" and "Wings of Courage." She has worked extensively for television on both sides of the Atlantic, with credits that include, "Tales From the Crypt," "The Man in the Brooks Brothers Shirt," HBO's "Men and Women" series and, most recently, "Broken Glass" for the BBC. McGovern is an accomplished stage actress with Broadway credits that include, "A Map of the World," "Two Gentlemen of Verona," "The Three Sisters," "Hamlet," "As You Like It" and "The Misanthrope."

Since marrying British television producer Simon Curtis, Elizabeth makes her home in London.

Michael Gambon (KATE'S FATHER)

Michael Gambon is one of England's more distinguished actors both on stage and screen. He started his career at the Edward I Macliammoir Gate Theatre in Dublin, before joining, in 1963, the National Theatre for its inaugural season under Laurence Olivier at the Old Vic. He has subsequently worked with all the major theatre companies including the Royal Shakespeare Company and the National Theatre on the South Bank while his credits include "Hamlet," "King Lear," "Antony and Cleopatra," "Othello," "Richard m," "The Life of Garneo," "A View From the Bridge," "Uncle Vanya," and "A Chorus of Disapproval," among many others. Most recently he was awarded Best Actor by the Evening Standard Theatre Awards for his magisterial performance in the title role of "Volpone." Last year he also received rave reviews for David Hare's "Skylight" in London and New York.

His film credits include "Turtle Diary," "Paris By Night," "A Dry White Season," "The Rachel Papers," "The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover," "Mobsters," "Toys," "Clean Slate," "The Browning Version," "A Man of No Importance," "Mary Reilly," "Two Deaths," "Nothing Personal" and most recently "The Gambler." His TV work includes the award-winning "The Singing Detective," "The Heat of the Day," "Inspector Maigret," "The Entertainer" and "Faith." He is soon to appear in "Samson and Delilah."

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