(Revised 7/06/03)

"I don't know if you're familiar with the tradition in nineteenth-century American fiction... where someone will have to get over a love affair of some sort....then off the person gets packed to Europe, on the next ocean liner, to put their relationship behind them....till in six months or a year they're ready to sail back to America, broken heart mended, ready to start a new life. At least that was the theory....So I thought I might try it in reverse. I thought I'd see if it would work for me, a hundred years or so later, the other way around."

(click on image for larger version)

Release dates
  • UK:  May 9, 2003; US and others: unknown

    Real Player Windows Media Or click here or here

    Completely reorganized, check here

    6 new clips, plus some of the press conference here (requires registration)

Production notes here

Press conference with Colin and Mark Herman (by Matthew Turner/View London)
We caught up with director Mark Herman and leading man Colin Firth in the run up to the release of their latest offering—Hope Springs…cue too much talking about Heather Graham's nudity contract.

Q: Can I ask you about the undressing scenes? I thought the bouncing on the bed dance sequence was very discreetly filmed and I wondered whether that was in order to get a specific rating or whether it was at the actress's request?

Mark: The latter. In (Heather Graham)'s last two or three films she didn't seem to have any problems with that part of the contract but suddenly on ours she did. It actually caused a nightmare to shoot and she turned up on set with nipple plasters and so on.

But at the end of the day, if she had taken everything off, we still would have had to cut it out—it just meant that the filming of the scene took much longer.

Colin: You know, you do find though that actresses spend half their lives with people lobbying to take their clothes off and then they finally do it and they get crap for it for years. I mean people still hit Glenda Jackson with it now, still. I do think that if you do it once, no-one lets you forget it.

Mark: One of the ironies of the whole thing was that because of the way we had to shoot it, it meant that we had to do a re-shoot over here with a stand-in actress who basically had to sit in Colin's lap with her clothes off the entire afternoon.

Colin: I'm over it now. Well, the reason we had to re-shoot that scene was because the studio thought it was too naughty. This is a scene where we'd managed to get absolutely no nudity and no sexual activity whatsoever and the studio came through and said 'No, this is too dirty—you're going to have to make a less dirty moment there'.

Some Guys Have All The Luck
It’s official. Colin Firth is one jammy git. Not content at having not one but two beautiful actresses fight over him in his latest flick Hope Springs, the Brit actor only confirmed his heartthrob status last night when he hit town in style for the premiere of the new romantic comedy. . 

Delighting the awaiting masses in London’s Leicester Square, Firth followed the example of shmooze meister Tom Cruise with an extended tour of the expectant throng, dishing out signatures and posing for photos like the charmer he truly is.

And it wasn’t only the crowd that were voicing their admiration; sickeningly genuine praise for the chap came from all quarters. Co-star Minnie Driver was the first to wax lyrical about her leading man’s qualities. “Men and women love him” she rather needlessly told Empire Online. “I think men want to be like him and aren’t threatened by him and women just love him and want to take care of him.”

As one third of Hope Springs’s love triangle, she should know. Driver plays the deliciously bitchy Vera, hell-bent on recovering her man—conveniently named Colin—after he quite understandably packs up and leaves town when he finds out she is going to marry another man. Randomly ending up in a tiny Vermont town called Hope, Firth’s character finds his fortune changing as he falls in love with kooky nurse, Heather Graham, only for his ex to turn up on his doorstep.

According to the flick’s director, Mark Herman of Brassed Off and Little Voice fame, Firth was the only man for the job. “He’s great. Perfect.” Herman commented. “He sprung to mind immediately I read the book. He read it at the same time and he wanted to do it.”

And if that wasn’t enough, yet another beautiful gal, Firth’s newest co-star Mena Suvari, was also on hand to praise him too. Having just started filming psychological thriller Trauma with Firth—“a love story—but a kind of sick one”—she’s already won over. “I really couldn’t be working with anybody more spectacular,” she positively gushed. “I think he’s extremely  intelligent, he’s such a wonderful person.”

And what does the man at the centre of all this female adoration think? “That’s make a change, doesn’t it?!” he laughed. “At last I don’t have to be kicking Hugh Grant’s arse to get them to look at me!” And with that stroke of humility, Empire Online might have just been won over too. (Empire 4/29/03) [Pictures from the premiere start here]

Firth back in film with a twist 
We've seen him emerge, soaking wet, from a lake as the dashing Mr Darcy and watched him win the heart of the original singleton, Bridget Jones. Now fans of Colin Firth can see him on the big screen as they've never seen him before—struggling to get to grips with the finer points of yoga.

Firth, who established himself as a heartthrob in the BBC's adaptation of Pride And Prejudice, will again have women swooning over him in Hope Springs, a romantic comedy tipped to be one of the summer's big box-office hits. 

He plays British artist Colin Ware, who is left shattered by the discovery that his fiancée, played by Minnie Driver, is about to marry another man. Distraught Colin flies to America and ends up in a rundown hotel in the town of Hope, New England. There he meets nurse Mandy, played by Heather Graham, who helps him forget his lost love until she turns up hoping to win him back. 

Firth, who has also starred in Shakespeare In Love, The Importance Of Being Earnest and as football-mad Paul in the film adaptation of Nick Hornby's Fever Pitch, has stuck firmly to the romantic comedy genre for his latest role. 

Nick James, editor of Sight and Sound, the British Film Institute's industry magazine, said: "Americans have an appetite for this kind of Englishman—Hugh Grant only not as witty and with hidden depths—and Colin Firth does it extremely well." 

Hope Springs, directed by Mark Herman, who also directed Brassed Off and Little Voice, is released on 9 May. (femail.co.uk, 4/8/03)

Hope Springs Eternal for Mark
York writer-director Mark Herman introduces his new film, Hope Springs, at the opening gala of the Bradford Film Festival 2003 this evening. Hope Springs (12A) is a romantic comedy adapted by Mark from the novel New Cardiff by The Graduate author Charles Webb...

“I was sent Charles Webb’s book in a proof copy three Christmases ago by Fragile Films, who have a deal with Disney. They were seeing quite a few people about it but they liked the idea of a writer-director so I got the job,” recalls the 48-year-old Yorkshireman.

“It was put back on the Disney slate but then Colin Firth read the book and started enquiring about the rights, and that’s how he came on board and as soon as he was involved it had momentum because he’d just done Bridget Jones’s Diary.”

Photo courtesy of PamS
Click for larger view
(Click for larger image)
Firth plays British artist Colin Ware, leading a cast that includes Minnie Driver, Heather Graham, Oliver Platt and Mary Steenbergen. When Colin discovers that his fiancée, Vera (Driver), is to marry another man, he takes a flight to America, ending up in a tiny Vermont village called Hope. Distraught, he finds more than a shoulder to cry on after his innkeeper (Steenbergen) introduces him to beautiful nurse Mandy (Graham), who extols the innocent charms of nakedness. No sooner has Colin all but forgotten his old flame than Vera shows up. In the end only one woman can win his heart.

“Charles Webb has written hardly anything since The Graduate but suddenly he came up with this book and I love it because it’s so quirky,” says Mark, who will meet the Brighton-based American for the first time at Hope Springs’ London premiere.

They have, however, communicated by e-mail; Webb has indicated his enthusiasm for the film and Herman has paid him the compliment of putting a few nods to The Graduate in his movie.

“In terms of cinema audiences, we’re almost a generation on from The Graduate, so I realised no one would spot the references when I dropped them in,” says Mark, with typical dry humour. “Anyway, the opening scene is an echo of Dustin Hoffman arriving at the airport, and there’s a definite reference to The Graduate poster with Heather Graham’s legs featured in our poster.” (The Yorkshire Press, Mar 14, 2003) 

(Telegraph and Argus by David Behrens)
Colin Firth's underpants were revealed to an appreciative festival audience last night, a month ahead of their national release. They had been shed during the sort of romantic entanglement Mr Firth has made his own just lately. In this case, it's Heather Graham, above with Colin, and Minnie Driver fighting over them, in New England. Most men would be glad of such attention, but unbridled ecstasy isn't Colin's thing; he's more the emotionally battered and devastated type.

Hope Springs which opened Bradford's 2003 Film Festival, is a gentle romantic romp written and directed by Mark Herman, creator of the award-winning Yorkshire comedy, Brassed Off.

Firth's character is Colin Ware, a British artist who has fled to Hope, Vermont, on the rebound from his two-timing fiancee Vera (Driver). There he falls into the arms of the loving but worryingly intemperate Mandy (Graham). All goes well until Colin opens the door of his motel room without underpants to find Vera on the doorstep.

Hope Springs is no romantic firecracker, but it's a warm and likeable piece that augurs well for two fun weeks of film going.

Hope Springs to open the Bradford Film Festival
Hollywood heartthrob Colin Firth is set to spring into action to help launch the Bradford Film Festival. The Pride and Prejudice star's new film, called Hope Springs, will launch Bradford's ninth festival on March 14 when it receives its UK premiere at a gala screening in the city.

Today festival organisers said they are hoping Firth and his co-stars Heather Graham and Minnie Driver will join the film's director Mark Herman at a gala screening in the National Museum of Photography, Film and Television's Pictureville Cinema. Spokesman Dean Loughran said: "Mark Herman, the director of Purely Belter and Brassed Off, is definitely coming. Obviously the big stars have lots of work commitments but we're hopeful that Colin will come too." (This is Bradford, Ian Midgley, Feb 11, 2003)

Sense and sensibility
I think his next movie, Hope Springs, might be The One. Just wrapped, it’s based on a recent novel, New Cardiff, by Charles Webb (who wrote The Graduate).  “The novel’s brilliant,” says Firth.  “It’s about a guy, an Englishman, who shows up in a tiny town in New England called Hope, in a desperate state.  A couple of friends of mine had spotted it and thought of me.”  One of the friends was Nick Hornby.  It’s a torn-between-two-women love story.  “The kooky girlfriend is Heather Graham; the ex is Minnie Driver,” says Firth, who says he’s “really thumbs-up about this one.  The character’s even called Colin. It did sort of feel like it was waiting for me to step into somehow.”  (Vogue, Vicky Woods, May 2002)

In a forthcoming film, New Cardiff, he plays an artist who flees London after being dumped by his fiancée, played by Minnie Driver. While hiding away in a New England hotel, a local woman (Heather Graham) takes him in hand. Given that the story was written by Charles Webb, the author of The Graduate, can one detect the shade of Mrs Robinson? “It’s not entirely without parallel,” he says. “There’s a sophisticated, jaded woman who sabotages the guy’s chances with the fresh, innocent hope for the future. There’s even a scene where someone spontaneously takes their clothes off in front of me.”   (The Times, Stuart Wavell, 20 Jan 2002)

Name change
According to the Yahoo movie guide, New Cardiff has been renamed Hope Springs. The following synopsis is given:

In this romantic comedy, British artist Colin Ware (Colin Firth) discovers that his fiance, Vera (Minnie Driver), the love of his life, is going to marry another man. Distraught and despondent, he gets on a plane for America and ends up in the tiny town of Hope in New England. At first, Colin is depressed, but he soon finds more than a shoulder to cry on when his innkeepers introduce him to Mandy (Heather Graham), a beautiful nurse. All’s going well and Colin has almost forgotten his old flame until Vera suddenly shows up with a surprise of her own. “Hope Springs” is about finding happiness where you least expect it.
Colin graduates to box office big shot
Colin Firth has been spending a lot of time lately way from his home just outside Rome.

First he joined Rupert Everett and Judi Dench in The Importance of Being Earnest, which was shooting in the Home Counties. And now he’s over in darkest British Columbia in North America starring in a delicate romantic comedy with Heather Graham and Minnie Driver—who is trying to rehabilitate herself after her last picture, High Heels and Low Lifes, sank without trace at British cinemas.

The film is called New Cardiff and has excellent credentials. Based on the first novel in two decades from Charles Webb (the author of The Graduate), the movie has been directed by Mark Herman, who made Little Voice and Brassed Off.

Firth plays an artist who flees London after his fiancee (Driver) dumps him. He hides away in a New England hotel where a local woman (Ms Graham) locks on to him.

The two leading ladies are ‘name’ performers, but it’s Firth who has the box office clout, thanks to the huge success of Bridget Jones's Diary, Shakespeare in Love and The English Patient.

(Baz Bamigboye/Daily Mail, 14 December 2001)


Also in Vancouver for the movie New Cardiff, yummy Colin Firth of Bridget Jones's Diary fame. (Toronto Star)

Stars Stroll to Set
Actors Colin Firth and Heather Graham walk to the movie set of New Cardiff during filming in Hope. (Click on image for larger picture)
(Alison Ross/Special to the Vancouver Sun)

Festival comes to town
It's festival time again, in the made-up movie town of Hope, that is. The Fort Langley Community Hall was made up for the annual "Cannon Ball Festival" for the Disney feature film New Cardiff, currently being filmed at the Fort. The movie stars Colin Firth of Bridget Jones's Diary fame.  (Langley Advance, 30 October 2001)

Oliver Platt is in final negotiations to join the cast...

(The Hollywood Reporter, 8 October 2001)

Minnie Driver joins New Cardiff cast
Minnie Driver is set to join Heather Graham, Colin Firth and Mary Steenburgen in New Cardiff, a romantic comedy being produced by the UK's Fragile Films for Buena Vista International.

Driver is to play Vera, a scheming woman who dumps her fiance, an artist played by Firth, by sending him an invitation to her wedding to someone else. Firth's character heads to a hotel run by Steenburgen in New England to enjoy the simple life and repair his broken heart. Sparks fly when he meets a local girl played by Graham, but Driver's character suddenly returns to explain it was only a joke.

Mark Herman, whose credits include Purely Belter and Little Voice, is directing, with shooting scheduled to start October 15 in Vancouver. The project is an adaptation of The Graduate novelist Charles Webb's first book in 25 years.

Fragile co-chief Barnaby Thompson dismissed US reports which said that Helena Bonham Carter was in line for Driver's role.   (Screendaily, Adam Minns, 7 October 2001)

''Cardiff'' lands cast
Heather Graham, Colin Firth and Mary Steenburgen are poised to star in "New Cardiff,'' and Helena Bonham Carter is in early talks to round out the quartet for the romantic comedy.

Set in New England, the film is a fish-out-of-water story, revolving around a British artist (Firth) who is  healing after being dumped by his fiancee (Bonham Carter). The spurned man holes up in New Cardiff,  Vt., staying at a motel run by Steenburgen. She sympathizes with his plight and introduces him to a  local girl (Graham).  Sparks commence and romance looks likely until his scheming fiancee comes  looking for him.

The film will be directed by Mark Herman (''Little Voice''), working from his adaptation of the novel by  Charles Webb (''The Graduate'').   (Variety, Michael Fleming, 2 October 2001)

Local Productions Pause...
And Disney will shoot the feature, New Cardiff (based on the Charles Webb novel), here beginning mid-October. It's the fairy tale-like story of a jilted English artist (played by Colin Firth) who repairs to New Cardiff, Vt., to mend his broken heart and live a simpler life, following in the footsteps of the original settlers from Wales who came in search of coal.  (Vancouver Sun, Lynne McNamara, 15 Sept 2001)

London artist Colin Ware and his lifelong companion Vera first 'met' when they kicked together as their pregnant mothers sat next to each other in the doctor's waiting-room. They were getting married—until Vera sent Colin an invitation to her marriage to someone else.

Escaping to America, Colin discovers in New Cardiff, Vermont, an innocence, warmth and eccentricity that seduces and transforms him. With a passionate kiss in the Revolutionary War Monument he falls hopelessly in love with Mandy, an attendant on a break from the local care center, and in Colin's motel room they explore each other culturally as well as sexually. So when Vera arrives to reclaim him— profuse in her explanations and apologies for the 'wedding' that sent him on his journey—it's a very different Colin she encounters.

 Click here for a very detailed spoiler synopsis of the film


Read Chapter One online at the  Sunday Times

From Nick Hornby's review in the Sunday Times:

"If, however, you are of the sound persuasion that there is really no higher calling than the crafting of jokes then you will appreciate this novel for what it is: a delicate, rare and exquisitely planed oddity."
Full review here
The Spectator's review  here

The Guardian's online review here

The Wall Street Journal on New Cardiff and the Webbs  here

July 29, 2002 article in the Guardian on the Webbs here

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