Trapped in an ideal world

Fred Schepisi on capturing a mythical Andorra.

by Anne-Katrin Titze

Fred Schepisi with Mary Schepisi, on casting Andorra: "Clive Owen, Joanna Lumley, Toni Collette, Gillian Anderson, and I can’t say the other names …"
Fred Schepisi with Mary Schepisi, on casting Andorra: "Clive Owen, Joanna Lumley, Toni Collette, Gillian Anderson, and I can’t say the other names …" Photo: Anne-Katrin Titze

Before the Universal Pictures and Working Title Films Bridget Jones’s Baby lunch with Renée Zellweger, Sharon Maguire, Helen Fielding, Eric Fellner, and Colin Firth at Lotos Club, there was a screening of the film arranged by Peggy Siegal at the Park Avenue Screening Room. When I arrived I noticed director/writer Fred Schepisi with his wife Mary.

Geoffrey Rush with Alexandra and Fred Schepisi for The Eye Of The Storm
Geoffrey Rush with Alexandra and Fred Schepisi for The Eye Of The Storm Photo: Anne-Katrin Titze

In 2012, Alexandra Schepisi, Geoffrey Rush and the filmmaker met me at The Regency Hotel in New York for a conversation on The Eye of The Storm. And last year, I saw him at the Monkey Bar reception for Alan Rickman's A Little Chaos, starring Kate Winslet with Matthias Schoenaerts, Helen McCrory, Paula Paul, and Stanley Tucci.

Andorra, based on Peter Cameron's novel, not Max Frisch's play, will be Fred's next project and he filled me in on where he is with the cast and the story. Mary commented on Bridget Jones’s Baby's soundtrack and the leading men in the film.

Anne-Katrin Titze: Tell me about Andorra, your next project!

Fred Schepisi: It’s from a novel by Peter Cameron. It’s a mythical Andorra, not the actual country called Andorra.

AKT: Nor the Max Frisch Andorra? There is another literary Andorra.

FS: Is there?

Fred Schepisi greets Renée Zellweger: "Pretty good. As I said, today was very Bridget Jones …"
Fred Schepisi greets Renée Zellweger: "Pretty good. As I said, today was very Bridget Jones …" Photo: Anne-Katrin Titze

AKT: Yes, by the Swiss writer Max Frisch. Another Andorra.

FS: Another Andorra. This is about a place that a guy is remembering when he wanted to get away from the world and escape and start again. It’s this place called Andorra that’s perfect. The people are friendly, the place is beautiful, but it’s not unlike any other place and he is writing it from memory but he is remembering how he wants it to be.

But some memories from his past keep coming back to haunt him, keep kind of invading that world. Then he finds a couple of families he gets involved with, a couple of ladies. Eventually, because bodies wash up on the shore, the local constabulary start to point the finger at him and he needs to escape.

Because he couldn’t even possibly be involved with this. But they have his passport and he can’t escape. So he is in his ideal world but he can’t escape it. And it gets more complicated than that.

AKT: The idea of memories revisited and altered is something that is a topic of yours, isn’t it? The Eye Of The Storm had some of that.

Mary Schepisi and Fred Schepisi chat with Bill Blakemore
Mary Schepisi and Fred Schepisi chat with Bill Blakemore Photo: Anne-Katrin Titze

FS: Well, things as you want them to be aren’t always as you want them to be - even in your memory.

AKT: Very true.

FS: So it’s a film very tense and nothing is what it seems. There is considerable unease and you know something’s not quite right.

AKT: You have assembled already quite an illustrious cast! Who is onboard?

FS: Clive Owen, Joanna Lumley, Toni Collette, Gillian Anderson, and I can’t say the other names - because we’re sort of there. In one case it depends on the schedule, the other case, coming to an agreement.

AKT: And where is this mysterious Andorra going to be shot?

FS: Hopefully, in a place you won’t recognise. But a lot of it will be shot in Italy. It’ll be an accumulation of a number of different places because the guy wants it to be the seaside and the mountains. So Italy looks like the best candidate at the moment.

Mary Schepisi and Fred Schepisi depart from the Bridget Jones’s Baby lunch: "I had to hand her tissues at the end."
Mary Schepisi and Fred Schepisi depart from the Bridget Jones’s Baby lunch: "I had to hand her tissues at the end." Photo: Anne-Katrin Titze

AKT: We were together at the screening for Bridget Jones’s Baby. How does it connect for you to the older Bridget Jones movies?

FS: Pretty good. As I said, today was very Bridget Jones and sort of a good follow up.

Mary Schepisi: Another great soundtrack.

AKT: All by Myself to Dean Martin. What did you think of the movie?

MS: I liked it a lot.

FS [smiling]: I had to hand her tissues at the end.

MS: I thought the men work really well. Patrick Dempsey was a great foil.

AKT: That is a good way to put it. Speaking of real or not, at times I wondered if the Patrick Dempsey character even existed. Is he just a catalyst?

MS: Oh, I hope he comes back. He’s awfully cute.

Read what Renée Zellweger and Colin Firth had to say about Bridget Jones’s Baby.

Coming up - Sharon Maguire and Helen Fielding on bringing Bridget Jones into the present.

Bridget Jones’s Baby opens today, September 16 in the US and the UK.

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