shadows features Truth, comedy and nastiness
Around the table with Cate Blanchett, Richard Eyre and Patrick Marber page 2 of 2
B Y   R I C H   C L I N E
notes on a scandal Was there as much concern about the fight scene with Dame Judi Dench?
Both of us were dreading it to be honest, because it's about finding the pitch of a scene like that. The stakes, and the expression of those stakes are so high, but also it's absurd, the things that they're saying to one another. I think what Patrick had written gave the scene a buoyancy which was actually, in the end, quite fun to play. But we did down a bottle of champagne after we'd finished it.
Marber: I was very conscious throughout the shoot that Cate and Judi were dreading the day they had to do this scene. It's monstrously difficult, and it's a scene also where we the audience are watching two mad women, two characters who have been driven almost mad by the events of the story. We watch the scene appalled by where they've got to with each other, but that's the whole point, that's where the story has gone. It's the purging scene. And after that when Barbara is clearing up all the rubbish that Sheba has created, it's a very, very quiet scene. And their goodbye scene is sort of a stalemate, they've come to the end of something.
Blanchett: It's an interesting journey really, a fascinating journey to play someone who's quite fey and gossamer and coy in the beginning, who then ends up being thrust out of a basement flat, screaming in her pyjamas, dressed as Siouxsie and the Banshees, going after the paparazzi. That scene had to get Sheba to the place where that would be a logical, the only place for her to go.
Marber: I realised when we were making the film something that never occurred to me when I was writing it. It's that actually Barbara doesn't really go on any kind of journey, she just sort of gets an obsession for someone, it doesn't work out and she's upset about that but she endures. It's Sheba who goes on the massive journey and Barbara who is the fixed point. But that only occurred to me when I watched the film, what the true extreme of it is.

Was Notes On A Scandal written with your leading ladies in mind, Patrick?
What happened was when [producer] Scott Rudin sent me the book, I think that was the first thing that happened. He said he thought this would be great for Richard to direct, and I said that was great. I read the book and said I'd love to do it, and then there was another conversation where everyone felt that Judi and Cate would be perfect for these roles. They were then sent the book, and word came back that they loved it and would both be interested to read the screenplay. To answer your question I was conscious when I was writing the screenplay that I had these two brilliant actresses waiting to read it, so it was a pressure, but a very pleasurable one because I thought I could write at full stretch and hopefully they'd like all these strange contradictions and twists and turns that I was going to give their characters.

Judi Dench has said she has known real people like her character, Barbara - have any of you?
Yes, is the answer. I can think of somebody I knew who used to work at the BBC when I first went to work there in 1978. She was a Barbara - a poor, miserable, lonely woman. She used to drive people away because her loneliness; her solitude was like a powerful smell.
Marber: I think Zoe's book recognises a peculiar strand of loneliness that's out there. I think if you look around, if you go out onto the streets, you will see a thousand Barbaras out there. I think that's why people like the film because I think it's identified a particular streak of modern loneliness in the comfortable middle classes and the uncomfortable lower middle class of people like Barbara.



blanchett and dench

Patrick Marber Richard Eyre

born 19.Sep.64 in London
Notes on a Scandal (2006) Asylum (2005)
Closer (20046)

born 28.Mar.43
in Barnstaple, Devon
Notes on a Scandal (2006) Stage Beauty (2004)
Iris (2001)
2007 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall