BAZ BAMIGBOYE: Carey horses around with Hardy hunks

Carey Mulligan loved being scandalous when playing Thomas Hardy’s heroine, Bathsheba Everdene.

The award-winning actress stars as Bathsheba in Thomas Vinterberg’s screen adaptation of Far From The Madding Crowd — and in the very first scene we see her racing through a wood on horseback, in a tailored leather jacket that instantly signals that this is a woman in control.

‘It was just so unheard of for a woman to ride full on like that, switching from side-saddle. Then she lies back and lets the tips of the branches touch her,’ Carey told me of the scene.

In Carey Mulligan's (pictured) very first scene in Far From The Madding Crowd, she is seen racing through the wood on horseback

In Carey Mulligan's (pictured) very first scene in Far From The Madding Crowd, she is seen racing through the wood on horseback

Shortly after the equine escapade, Bathsheba flatly turns down marital advances from Matthias Schoenaerts’s burly shepherd, Gabriel Oak.

She’s not thinking about marriage when Oak proposes. ‘She doesn’t want a husband then: not even Matthias, who’s such a hunk!’ said Carey of the Belgian-born actor. ‘What Bathsheba does want is to be swept off her feet.

And Sergeant Troy (a dashing Tom Sturridge) does just that.

Tom Sturridge (pictured with Sienna Miller) plays Sergeant Troy

Tom Sturridge (pictured with Sienna Miller) plays Sergeant Troy

‘Troy tells her she’s beautiful; surprises her and knocks her off centre. He spins words — he’s really attractive! — while Oak is not poetic at all, but he’s kind and offers her protection.

‘But Troy’s dangerous. It’s that classic thing of young girls who fall for bad boys. And this is her moment of going out with totally the wrong guy!’

I asked whether she’d ever been in the same shoes and Carey said simply: ‘I don’t know a single woman who hasn’t been through that.’

Michael Sheen plays William Boldwood, the third man in Bathsheba’s orbit.

It’s rare for an actress to be courted by three leading men in a movie.

Carey agreed. ‘So often it’s a male lead in films, and then you have the girlfriend and the wife, and often they’re not brilliant roles. But here it’s switching that classic dynamic on its head, and all three males roles are brilliant, unique and so well cast.’

The filming, however, was ‘knackering’, as Carey put it. She fell off her horse two weeks into filming, suffering some bruises and scratches. But she told me she did enjoy the sheep dipping.

‘They fashioned this fake sheep thing, for insurance purposes. They probably thought the sheep were going to bite.

‘But it looked so ridiculous that they started putting real sheep through. I loved being hands on; standing knee deep in water, handling them.

‘And I was out there digging and getting my hands dirty. Knackering, though.’

Carey is currently on Broadway in David Hare’s Skylight opposite Bill Nighy and Matthew Beard, but the production will shut for a while this month so she can attend the London gala for the Hardy film, which goes on general release here on May 1. 


Meet the small star with one VERY big voice

Cynthia Erivo is five foot one, once she kicks off her platform heels, but she has a mighty voice.

Edward Kemp, the director of the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, likes to tell the story of when the academy’s music director spoke in awe of a recital Erivo gave.

‘We were told it was something from Othello and we thought oh, OK, she sang one of Shakespeare’s verses. But it was an aria from the opera Otello. She has an outstanding voice,’ Kemp told me.

Where does it come from?

She went to Catholic church, so grew up singing hymns, not gospel. ‘I’m not really sure,’ she told me, when I asked how she came to be a vocal virtuoso. ‘I think it’s to make up for my height. Because I’m so little, I have to do something to make myself heard!’

Cynthia Erivo's mighty voice will on display in New York from November when the Color Purple transfers to Broadway 

Cynthia Erivo's mighty voice will on display in New York from November when the Color Purple transfers to Broadway 

Then she volunteers that some of the fire in her singing may have come from her mother Edith, a director of community health visitors. ‘She just has this determination. I’ve watched her since I was little and I’ve picked up on how hard she works, and the fire that she has in her belly. My mum has fire, and I don’t know if she knows that she has it in her.’

Well, Ms Erivo’s fire is going to be on display in New York from November, when the Color Purple transfers to Broadway with her and Jennifer Hudson in the lead roles.

Cynthia said playing in the show a couple of seasons back, when it ran at the Menier Chocolate Factory, changed her life, and led to her being offered all manner of parts — including a chance to work with Phyllida Lloyd in Henry IV at the Donmar, and playing Puck in A Midsummer Night’s Dream which she’s doing now at the Liverpool Everyman.

She also writes her own songs, and has one featured in the forthcoming movie Beyond The Lights, which stars Gugu Mbatha-Raw.

In fact, Erivo wouldn’t mind doing some screen work, and that will surely come once people see her in New York.

Before she goes to NY, though, she will appear at the St James Studio in London in concert with Scott Alan from May 4-6; and she’s just joined the cast for a concert of How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying at the London Festival Hall on May 19.

Then there’s the opening in London next year of landmark Broadway musical Dreamgirls, in which she covets the part of Effie, a Supremes-like singer with a powerhouse voice (like Cynthia) but a much larger frame.

‘I’ll pad up!’ she said emphatically, full of fire.


Watch out for...

Christopher Walken, who won an Oscar for The Deer Hunter. He is joining Taron Egerton and Hugh Jackman in director Dexter Fletcher’s Eddie The Eagle, a film inspired by the exploits of Michael ‘Eddie’ Edwards, who represented Britain in ski-jumping at the 1988 Winter Olympics and became a hero to the masses — even though he came last in all his events.

Christopher Walken is joining Taron Egerton and Hugh Jackman in director Dexter Fletcher’s Eddie

Christopher Walken (left) is joining Taron Egerton and Hugh Jackman in director Dexter Fletcher’s Eddie

As Matthew Vaughn, the film’s producer, observed: ‘He had pluck, and people admire that.’

Walken will play the hard-nosed head of the U.S. ski team: a fictional character. The film has been shooting in Germany, Austria and in the UK. Egerton, who was in the blockbuster hit Kingsman: Secret Service looks nothing like ‘Eddie’, but in footage I was fortunate to observe, he transforms into him remarkably well.

Florence Pugh is the breakour star of Carol Morley's The Falling

Florence Pugh is the breakour star of Carol Morley's The Falling

Florence Pugh, who is the breakout star of director Carol Morley’s absorbing — and atmospheric — psychological drama The Falling, ever so loosely inspired by Arthur Miller’s The Crucible.

It’s about a group of contemporary schoolgirls who become involved in acts of hysteria. The film stars Maisie Williams, Maxine Peake and Greta Scacchi, but it’s Pugh, in a small role, who heats up the screen.

John Wells, the Hollywood producer behind The West Wing and ER, saw Morley’s film last year and promptly cast Florence in the pilot episode of a new TV drama called Studio City. She plays the daughter of a man she thinks is a famous rock ’n’ roll writer, who turns out to be something very different.

Pippa Bennett-Warner, who will star as Dorinda opposite Samuel Barnett as the dissolute Mr Aimwell in Restoration comedy The Beaux’ Stratagem, which Simon Godwin will direct on the National Theatre’s Olivier stage from May 19. Ms Bennett-Warner was last on stage three years ago when Godwin directed her in The Witness at the Royal Court.

Ricardo Chavira of Desperate Housewives fame, who will be in the UK premiere of Stephen Adly Guirgis’s scorching drama The Motherfxxker With The Hat, from June 10 in the Lyttelton Theatre at the National.

Director Indhu Rubasingham, who is artistic chief at London’s Tricycle, has also cast Flor de Liz Perez (from the Good Wife), Yul Vazquez (who was in the original company when Motherfxxker ran on Broadway with Chris Rock and Bobby Cannavale), Nathalie Armin, Lisa Caruccio Came and Alec Newman.

The play’s about a man who returns home after a stint in jail. He’s a druggie and a recovering alcoholic who attends AA meetings.

One day he returns to his apartment and notices a hat that doesn’t belong to him, and then begins a quest to discover who that hat belongs to. When I saw it in NY, the piece was very much about betrayal and kicking a guy when he’s down.

I’m not sure whether Guirgis has done any further work on it, but we will see when it kicks off here in June. 




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