(Revised 4/26/03)

Hope Springs is a charming new romantic comedy
about letting go of the past and embracing the future.

Happiness is often found just around the corner.

The Story. . . 

Colin Ware (Colin Firth) is a British portrait artist who has just received an invitation from his fiancée, Vera (Minnie Driver), to her wedding to another man.  Unable to cope with the shock, Colin escapes to the tiny New England village of Hope where he tries to forget his troubles by drawing the faces of the town’s many eccentrics.  A fish out of water in both body and spirit, Colin seeks refuge at the Battlefield Inn.  But the inn’s outlandish American owner, Joanie Fisher (Mary Steenburgen), will have nothing of his brooding.  Playing the artful match-maker, Joanie arranges for Colin to meet Mandy (Heather Graham), a beautiful caregiver who works at the Shining Shores Rest Home.  Mandy, insane with boredom, seduces the handsome foreigner, and Colin’s troubles are soon an ocean away.

Or so they think.  No sooner has love blossomed among the autumn gardens than Vera arrives in Hope with a mind to reclaiming her man.  Clever and witty, Vera quickly appears worlds ahead of the unsophisticated Mandy.  But behind Mandy the irrepressible Joanie and her husband (Frank Collison) who are as determined to see Mandy win as Vera is to see her lose.  In the middle of it all is Colin, torn between old loyalties and new possibilities.  A painfully funny war of words erupts and engulfs the whole town in the only drama it knows outside its annual Cannon Ball.  Even the mayor, the outrageous, flamboyant Doug Reed (Oliver Platt), is drawn into the battle and finds himself partnered with an unexpected ally in his quest for the perfect Queen of Hope.  And just when everyone thinks they have it all figured out, love throws another curve ball and the game takes on a new direction.

“It’s a story of a man in the absolute depths of misery, cut off from all his refuge points, in a strange town, developing an entirely new life,” says Colin Firth.  “You see him healing and waking up.”  And while at first glance that might not seem like anything to laugh about, comedy is, in the words of Firth, “about people at their most foolish, vulnerable, weakest, most prone to making mistakes.  We are often at our most ridiculous when we’re at our most passionate and most exposed.”  Comedic pathos is a central theme in “Hope Springs” as the characters struggle to make sense of their lives and their pain, dodging emotional land mines and misunderstandings along the way.  It’s what director Herman calls a “mix of comedy and tragedy,” and it takes this film beyond the boundaries of ordinary romantic comedies.  So while even the characters expect to “sit down and have a really good laugh about it,” we know, even as we watch and laugh, that it’s never so simple.  This is especially evident in the sparring between the characters of Colin and Vera as they grapple to cope with their disintegrating relationship, engaging in verbal spats where the jokes cut like knives.  As Herman points out, “This is dealing with their break-up and that’s quite a serious issue.  But it’s within the comedy, and they’re playing that mix very well.”

What makes it all work so beautifully is the film’s emphasis on character and dialogue, which is evident in Webb’s book New Cardiff and which Herman is careful to maintain in his adaptation.  The juxtaposition of characters’ emotional crises with gentle humour allows for an entertaining and touching look at some very common personal dilemmas. Firth comments:  “There’s nothing extraordinary about people being lonely, miserable, feeling really screwed up.  This describes absolutely everybody on earth at some time or other in their life.”  But, he adds, it’s when you take “archetypal themes” and “handle them with wit and with affection, this is what breeds comedy.  Each scene has a kind of ironic twist.  [The story] makes use of romantic comedy conventions, but the film has an attitude to it, a slightly oblique view of the whole thing, which makes it funny.  It comments ironically on the romantic clichés that it indulges in.”

That the film plays with clichés is evident from the very beginning when a disheveled Colin attempts to buy art supplies in Hope.  His unkempt appearance and request for “rubbers” (instead of an eraser) puts the small-town shopkeepers on alert.  This seemingly innocuous request portends the subtle cultural differences between Americans and Brits that will cause all sorts of misunderstandings between the characters.  As Mary Steenburgen says, much of the film’s humor “comes from contrasting the British and American ways of life, and how we’re separated by a common language, and we think we’re talking about the same thing but we’re not.”  Yet at the same time Herman decided not to overplay this. He adds that he “sought to keep the characters in the story real, because it’s so very easy to come over here and shoot a film in your Englishman’s view of America and get it wrong, to be tongue-in-cheek or too comedic and farcical about it.”

Cultural clashes meet gender clashes when Colin takes a room at the Battlefield Inn.  While Colin just wants to bury his heart in his work and his head in the pillow, the ebullient Joanie thinks the best cure for a broken heart is another relationship.  But while she certainly has Colin’s best interests in mind, Joanie secretly has needs and motives of her own.  Hope is a small place and, as Steenburgen says, “I know everybody in town and everybody knows me.”  Joanie yearns for something more, and by bringing Colin and Mandy together Joanie brings a little drama to her own life as well.  As Steenburgen tells it, “Our story begins with somebody coming from England which in itself is kind of a big deal.  And then little by little all this big drama starts happening.  Joanie just loves it because her life is so dull; she yearns for a bit of drama.

“I’m a little bit of a frustrated match-maker.  I’m taking the part of me that’s frustrated and trying to put other people together.  I wish for romance.  In the course of this movie I get to experience some of these things a little bit vicariously.”

So Joanie conspires to bring the sweet-natured Mandy over to comfort Colin in his time of sorrow.  For Mandy, the time couldn’t be better: “There’s nobody around here anymore,” she laments to Colin, “to really enjoy screwing your life up with.”  Mandy feels she’s “running out of options,” as Heather Graham puts it, and so when the handsome Colin arrives in need of Mandy’s gentle touch, the attraction proves irresistible.  But a girl who decorates her room with butterflies—“my symbol,” she explains—needs more than the advice of her elderly charges to capitalize on the situation.  In fact, it’ll take a half bottle of Peach Brandy to give Mandy the courage to seduce Colin.  “I’m kind of shy,” Graham notes of her character, “so I get drunk.” The intoxicated seduction pays off as she strips to her confused audience and delivers a lesson on the innocent joys of being naked.

And who but Graham could make us believe in Mandy?  As with Colin Firth’s character, it takes a skilled hand to make it funny without being trite.  Writer/director Herman calls Graham “a very, very good comedic actress,” and producer Barnaby Thompson concurs she was an excellent choice for the role: “Heather is obviously a fabulous actress.  She’s also got enormous charm.  And the challenge for Mandy was to find someone who could carry off a certain kind of innocence but also a certain kind of sexiness, and who was quintessentially American.  I think Heather is all those things: she’s very beautiful but she’s also entirely believable as someone that you’d find in a sleepy town in Vermont.”

Mandy’s small-town girl at first seems no match for the sophisticated, urban Vera when she arrives in town to muddle things up.  Vera is, in Minnie Driver’s words, “sort of glamorous, which I think is very funny against the rural backdrop of Hope.  She really sticks out like a sore thumb, except she doesn’t think that at all.  She doesn’t really notice her surroundings or feels that she’s out of place in any way.  She sort of breezes through everything,” Vera’s obvious self-confidence intimidates Mandy, and Vera’s witty, clever banter only adds to Mandy’s feelings of inferiority.  Vera, Graham explains, “somehow manages to twist everything to make her seem really amazing and the person she’s with seem like an idiot.”  To add to her troubles, Mandy has to do battle with the history between Vera and Colin—lovers who have known each other, as Vera makes a point of telling Mandy, “before we were born”—and with their shared citizenship.  Vera knows it would be so much easier for Colin to regress into the comfort of known territory, and she tries her best to exploit this, repeatedly suggesting they just go back to England and sort things out there.

This tension between old friends and new on-screen is made all the more believable by the real-life relationships between the actors.  Minnie Driver and Colin Firth have known each other for a long time, having worked together back in England in both theatre and film.  “Because we know each other,” Driver says, “we have a very good rhythm together as friends and as people, and that translates very easily.  There’s an English thing as well: we’ve very similar references.”  This synchronicity also extends to Heather Graham and her character: just as Mandy has to get to know Colin Ware on-screen, Graham had to get to know Colin Firth off-screen.  Mark Herman noticed this interesting parallel during filming: “Colin and Minnie have a bit of history that really works well on the screen.  You can tell they’ve known each other a long time, as actors, and that really helps because they look like they’ve known each other forever, as has their characters. And Heather, getting to know Colin, again that comes across on-screen that they’re new to each other.”

It also doesn’t help Mandy that Vera proves disarmingly enchanting.  Driver defines her character as “quite a removed person, and quite manipulative.  She’s very caustic and funny and quick, cold yet charming.”  Minnie Driver proved the perfect Vera, able as Driver is to be both captivating and wicked at the same time.  Even before the script was written, producer Thompson had Driver in mind for Vera.  Thompson and Driver had worked together previously—on “An Ideal Husband” and “High Heels and Low Lifes”—and so when Thompson read the book he “immediately thought of her in that part.  She seemed an easy choice.”  To this Herman adds, “I hadn’t seen Minnie in a couple of years, but instantly felt she was perfect for this role because it’s very important to the audience, when they first see her in the story, not to know that she’s the baddie.  I think Minnie can play the baddie very likeably.”

“I love that about the Vera character,” Herman continues.  “She is actually a pretty nasty piece of work but you can’t help loving her because she’s very, very witty.  To have the baddie actually be one of the most attractive people in the story throws up some questions for the audience.”

And it also throws up questions for the characters. “One minute he’s in desperate straits emotionally,” Colin Firth explains of his character, “all because of one woman who, within a very short span of time, not only becomes unimportant to him as an aim in his life, but the very thing he needs to flee from in order to find happiness.”  Yet even though he seems to have forgotten Vera rather quickly, her arrival sparks ambivalence.  That Driver is able to strike a balance between Vera’s wicked side and her vulnerabilities is therefore essential to the film’s tension: the audience must have sympathy for the meltdown between Colin and Vera, and to understand why it’s so traumatic for Colin.  As Herman says, “We’ve got to believe why Colin has been with her for twenty years.  Minnie’s performance enables us to see why they’ve been together for so long.”

And, as Barnaby Thompson points out, “It’s not like Vera’s a bad person.  I think that she really loves Colin.  But they’ve been going out for a long time, and maybe they’ve taken each other for granted, and the spark has gone out of their relationship.   I think it’s very touching just to see these two people trying to do battle with that, to make sense of their history and their present at the same time.”

The lack of a clear villain makes for an interesting love triangle, and the script makes good use of this to comment on the complex dynamics of love, relationships, and the comforts we cling to.  As Driver says of the story, it’s about “looking at our relationships and what’s real, and what we hang on to because of habit.  Relationships that we stay in because we’ve just been in them forever and we can’t imagine life on the other side of them.”  Firth describes Colin and Vera as “a weary old couple snarling and snapping at each other, bringing up old crap and throwing it out indiscriminately, reaching points of hysteria all too easily, and finding it very difficult to recognize that this means it’s over.”

Nevertheless, Mandy is never presented as the perfect alternative to Vera.  Vera begrudgingly admits her nemesis is “vivacious and bubbly and fun,” and can see how Colin could be “charmed by her childlike spiritual innocence,” but points out that Mandy “is not exactly Mensa material” and therefore hardly Vera’s equal.  And it’s clear from the film’s beginning that Mandy suffers from low self-esteem.  “My character’s kind of insecure,” admits Graham.  “I’m ready to bolt at any sort of problem.  [Colin must] somehow convince me that he really does want to be with me.”  His efforts prove charming to both Mandy and the audience: “It’s very romantic,” says Graham, “how he coaxes me into our whole romance.  It’s really sexy.”

As is the unexpected love that springs up between Vera and the irrepressible mayor, Doug Reed, played to perfection by Oliver Platt.  The role of Reed requires an actor who can be outrageous yet irresistible enough that we don’t question Vera when she succumbs to his advances, and producer Barnaby Thompson explains why Platt is perfect for the part: “Doug Reed’s character is quite complicated because on the one hand he’s a ridiculous person, but on the other he has to have enough charm so that you go with Vera being taken by him.  He has to have certain charisma.  And Oliver is larger than life in more or less every respect.  So he fits the bill very nicely.”

Colin Firth agrees with this assessment, not only in the choice for Reed but why: “This thing about comedy coming out of things that are real is very applicable to [Platt].  He’s not clowning, he’s not asking for a laugh, he recognizes that place where comedy comes from.  Not all actors can access it the way he can.  It is a real joy to watch.”

In fact, Platt is so good an actor that he changed the writer/director’s very idea of whom Doug Reed was to be: “When I wrote the script,” Herman says, “I actually had an older Doug Reed in mind, but when it got to the casting process we met all sorts of ages and Oliver just added so much to the film.”

Of her on-screen romance, Driver insists Vera finds her match in Reed because “he’s a manipulator himself.  He’s very brash and it’s quite funny, their dynamic.”  And when Vera becomes Reed’s Queen of Hope, it should come as no surprise, Driver argues, for “it’s just an outward personification of what Vera thinks is going on inside all the time, anyway,”—though there is also the element of saving face: “I don’t think it’s really anything that would last.  It’s sort of by virtue of his attention and affection.  It’s more by force of circumstance.”

Force of circumstance, emotional strife, clever verbal sparring, and the revelations they bring about decorate the film with poignant moments.  “I think that conflict is interesting,” says Driver, “to see how long it takes for the exterior to dissolve and the interior to come to the surface and be revealed in all its frailty and fallibility.  Everybody gets revealed in their own particular way.”  Alongside the sentimentality are many very funny moments, created through exceptional dialogue and the film’s crazy love triangle—make that quadrangle—plot.  “There’s sexual tension between virtually everyone in the movie,” laughs Thompson. “So I think there’s lots of fun to be had.”

Making the Film . . .

“It was one of those glorious coincidences,” explains producer Barnaby Thompson, on how ‘Hope Springs” came together.  As the story goes, Colin Firth had discovered New Cardiff, the book by Charles Webb upon which “Hope Springs” is based, as it made its way around prior to publication, and fell in love with the writing.  Thompson had round the same time purchased the rights to the book and hired writer/director Mark Herman to begin the screenplay.  Meanwhile, Thompson and Firth began making “The Importance of Being Ernest” together.  One day on set Firth was talking about a book that he liked very much and how he was trying to find out who had the rights.  When Firth revealed the book was New Cardiff, Thompson turned to him and said, “I own that book.”  It was a case, as Firth puts it, “of things falling into place like magic.”

So what was it about New Cardiff that had everyone eager to see it on celluloid?  For Firth, it was the book’s “great simplicity” that appealed to him as an actor: “There’s something very economical and delicately balanced about it, and a thing which actors can bring their own imagination to very effectively.”  For writer/director Herman, the novel immediately “felt like a screenplay” and he knew he wouldn’t have to do too much work adapting it.  Herman was already a great fan of Charles Webb whose earlier novel The Graduate was immortalized on screen by Dustin Hoffman.  It was the same for Thompson for whom “the idea of doing something that had been written by Charles Webb was immediately appealing.  New Cardiff has that same kind of tone and same kind of quirky humor.”  Thompson thought it would be “fantastic and interesting to do—a romantic comedy that is very much character-based.”

Casting. . . 
Quickly green-lit, the project moved to the casting stage where the roles proved covetous.  Nobody who was approached turned the project down, a situation that Herman credits partly to the tragedy of last autumn: “I think after September 11th, these sort of films appeal to actors.  They want to be in fun movies, very harmless, light comedy.”  Mary Steenburgen agrees, saying, “It’s a particularly wonderful time to make a movie like this because as we’re filming this, the world has gotten hard to look at on the news at night.  It’s nice to be taken away for a couple of hours from all that and made to laugh, to think about love and romance, to laugh at ourselves and the differences between us and between cultures.”

Then there was, quite simply, the allure of the story itself.  “What appealed [to me] about the script,” says Heather Graham, “was how people can feel really devastated, and then next thing you know something good can happen.  It’s a hopeful story, that you can be on the lowest of the low moments and something can be right around the corner.”  Driver was attracted to the film’s intelligent dialogue and the chance to play the acerbic Vera: “It’s very fun not to be sort of milk and water and sweet like ‘the girl.’  I think the female parts in this film are really great.”

As for Colin Firth, he was already on board due to his love of Webb’s novel, and Herman’s faithfulness to its simplicity proved seductive: “It surprised me how much [the script] lent itself to spontaneous approaches.  There’s been unexpected moments.”  This ability to play with the material, to flesh out his character, was a source of great satisfaction for Firth. “You always know when you’ve got good writing: you’ve got a plethora of ideas coming at you and the struggle is to sort out which to use, rather than just desperately trying to forage for something.”

Even more so than the script, though, Firth and his fellow cast members credit director Mark Herman for allowing his actors room to breathe.  Heather Graham appreciates that Herman “let us do what, instinctively, we wanted to do.” Mary Steenburgen has similar praise for the film’s visionary: “He’s an amazing director in that he isn’t locked into a storyboard.  Mark was just constantly throwing [ideas out].”

“He’s just brilliant, he really is,” says Minnie Driver of Herman.  “He’s a great presence.  I trust him implicitly.  He himself is terribly funny, as you can read from the script.”  Even more importantly, “he knows how that translates into film, what is funny and what is too much.”  This balance Driver refers to Steenburgen calls the “truth in things” which, she says, Herman “has a real ear for.”  “While this script has almost a magical feeling to it,” she explains, “the way that he directs it is to ground yourself in a very truthful place.  And so inspiration just come out of the truth of the scenes.”

Which is a good thing because Mark, by his own admission, is not an overly verbose director: “I’m a Yorkshire man,” shrugs Herman in mock defense, “and people in Yorkshire don’t go over the top with any praise.  So the slightest nod, that’s Yorkshire for ‘That was wonderful, darling.’ ”  “And if he doesn’t say anything,” jokes Firth, “that is usually pretty lavish praise as well.”  But, Firth adds, “For a man of few words he’s a pretty fantastic communicator, and respected by everybody in all departments, and that is very unusual.  The perfect director is an almost impossible being.  The number of things a person has to be good at to be the ideal film director is pretty well too much to ask.  But as far as I can tell, Mark covers most of the ground.”

Even for actors like Heather Graham who are used to working with more talkative directors, Herman proved unexpectedly receptive. “He’s actually incredibly responsive, “ Graham explains.  “You’ll come to him with a lot of questions and you’ll think he didn’t listen to anything you said and then the next day he’ll come to you with every single thing you said addressed.”

And this courtesy was directed to all the cast, not just the headliners.  Says Frank Collison, who plays Fisher, “There was no, you know, ‘Ooh!  The big director up here,’ and you’re the little-bitty actor.  You felt like you were in partnership on the scene.”

Of course, courtesy is also earned, and when your “minor” parts are played by the likes of Mary Steenburgen and Oliver Platt, respect is a given.  Director Mark Herman has nothing but praise for Platt and Steenburgen, and marvels still at his luck in casting them in “Hope Springs”.  But he refuses to take the credit, instead directing the applause back to Webb’s novel: “To get [actors] of that stature to just come on board and do the film, it’s a testament to the original story and to Charles Webb’s writing.”  Producer Barnaby Thompson agrees, saying one has to look no further than the writing to figure out why anyone would accept a small part in this film: “One of the joys of Charles Webb’s book is how well drawn all the characters are.  So there really are a half dozen or more great character parts.”  Steenburgen echoes this sentiment, saying she “knew a lot of actors that wanted to be in this film.  I feel very fortunate that I was one of the lucky ones.”

Locations. . . 
Considering the luck the film possessed from its inception, one would have expected production to just flow accordingly but, unfortunately, this is where some of the luck ran out.  First principle photography had to be pushed back as a result of scheduling conflicts, which meant shooting fell past the real New England autumn.  Production designer Don Taylor began scouting other possible North American locations, firstly scouring Nova Scotia, then Toronto, before finally settling in the Vancouver area on Canada’s west coast.  In the nearby town of Fort Langley, Taylor found an unexpected cache of New England-style architecture and ambience.  Fort Langley’s main street has “a tremendous small town feel of New England when you isolate the bits you want to isolate,” says Taylor, pointing out, for example, the “neo-classicism” of the town’s community hall.  “When you see it stripped away,” he explains, “and we just have the cannon in front of the building, it’s absolutely classical architecture.  It’s just perfect for New England.”  By building upon these selected elements, Taylor was able to create what line producer Grace Gilroy calls “a Rockwell feeling of a town.”  She too “was quite surprised that we found it here and for it to be as convenient as it was.  To find a whole street that gives you that sense of flavor is pretty unusual.”

However, luck seemed once again to run out when, in late September, the Fort Langley Business Improvement Association asked the township to deny a filming permit to “Hope Springs”.  The film had requested six weeks of shooting along Glover Road, the town’s main street, and a film industry weary business community was worried about the potential casualties of such a lengthy shut down of local shops.  The debate divided the town: on one side were those who had benefited from B.C.’s third largest industry, and on the other those who had experienced difficulties with film crews in the past.  Thankfully, however, within a week a compromise was reached: Hope Springs would shoot for eleven days in Langley and then pick up scenes in other locations such as the real town of Hope, British Columbia, and Vancouver’s famed Van Dusen Botanical Garden.  Upon arrival in Fort Langley, Gilroy worked closely with the BIA and even “developed a program with them called the Film Buck so they could see how far dollars went in the community.”  Slowly, she says, they turned the town around, for which she feels great satisfaction: “Every time you come into a town you want to leave it with a better feeling.  You want them to be glad that you were there.”

Which they turned out to be.  Many in Fort Langley worked as extras for the big Cannon Ball scenes, while others simply came by to watch, hoping for a glimpse of the film’s world-renowned stars.  Most were rewarded with photos of the cast who were more than happy to pose with residents and tourists alike.  The local press ran humorous stories of women gushing over Colin Firth—much admired for his charm and gentlemanly ways—and of the peculiar increase in dog walking along Glover Road during filming.

In a strange way, too, the film company’s relationship with Fort Langley echoed one of the film’s central themes, that of a foreigner winning over the suspicious hearts of the town folk through the universal language of art.  Frank Collison, whose character Fisher is sketched by Colin Ware, says he could relate to the script because Ware rolls into the town “in the way a film company comes into a town.  You’re an outside person and they sort of hold you at arm’s length.  But then they gradually warm to you as they see that you mean them no harm.”  Langley, Collison believes, was ultimately won over the same way his character is: “When I see [Colin’s] artwork that convinces me.  He wins me over because I like the picture he’s done of me.”  Whether it was truly due to this or the Film Bucks program, no one can be sure, but one thing is certain: the Fort Langley Business Improvement Association was completely won over.  Lynne Davidson, BIA marketing coordinator, calls Hope Springs “the best filming company to come to Fort Langley.”

The Weather. . . 
That hurdle overcome, the crew was then faced with an abnormally wet autumn in British Columbia.  Faced with an unfavorable forecast, cinematographer Ashley Rowe took advantage of a few dry days to shoot all his wide shots, then shot close-ups on the rainy days that followed with a long lens to throw the dismal weather out of focus.  And while such weather might have frustrated many other cinematographers, Rowe, who hails from Wales in the UK, is used to coping with “one day sunshine, then hailstorms, the next rain.”  His experience has taught him not to fight the weather but to use it to his advantage.  In fact, on a sunny day, he argues, you’re actually more controlled by the weather because “if you’re working with the sun, you’re kind of committed to where the sun is at that time.  At least with this kind of dull light, it’s almost like starting from scratch.  I can throw a splash of light onto the background, which I can control.  I can control the amount of light on the actors’ faces.  It’s like lighting in the studio.”

Working closely with production designer Don Taylor, the set was dressed, lit and shot to take advantage of the diffused light.  “Luckily the locations we’ve been filming in so far, like the Van Dusen Garden,” says Rowe, “we had many nice fall leaves and we added silk trees made up with silk autumn leaves.  Once we filled the frame with these colors, we actually found that in this soft, misty kind of light, those colors are almost luminous.”

Add to these great developments in interchangeable film stocks, and the only problem left for Rowe, director Herman and the rest of the crew to solve was keeping the cast dry.  All those poor extras who filled in the background in the Cannon Ball scenes found themselves having to look happy while up to their ankles in mud, and even though huge rain covers kept the stars looking sunny in their close-ups, it was “a testament to the actors that [the rain] didn’t affect their performance,” says Herman.  “Considering those conditions, to have had a cast like that just took all those worries away, because they were so good that when we were shooting a scene, we didn’t have to spend too long on it.”

With the weather forcing French hours on many days, the cast and crew found themselves with long evenings to wile away.  To the rescue came Heather Graham and Mary Steenburgen, who took on the role of “social directors,” as Frank Collison puts it.  “I think Mary said that’s her role in her family.  So she’s adopted it here.  Last night was bowling.  Tonight will be karaoke.  The night before was supposed to be a movie but we ended up just going to dinner.  And then we went back and played board games.”  For Steenburgen, the camaraderie made her feel even luckier to have been a part of “Hope Springs”: “Now and then you do a film where everybody just cracks each other up, and you hang out together and you have fun, you play with the crew—it’s all a bit like going away to camp.  So even though I missed my husband, there was a part of me that didn’t want to go home because I might miss something.”

In the end, perhaps the only thing missed was producer Barnaby Thompson who, as a smiling Colin Firth tells it, “had to be banned from the set because he would laugh at the scenes—the sound man insisted [Thompson] be put at least three kilometers away from the action.  He was even sent back to England because he just couldn’t control himself.”  Minnie Driver, also a great fan of the producer, puts a different spin on it: “Barnaby is just a great presence on a film set.  He’s enormously supportive and encouraging, and also very capable.  He loves the films he makes.  And that, in itself, is a great vote of confidence.”

Love, laughter, and the charms of a small town proved irresistible for cast and crew, demonstrating once again that in life and in art hope springs eternal.

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