Green: his character and his costar
Despite describing tabloid journalist Liam Marple as a chameleon and a man who would sell his grandmother, Robson Green sees the "hero" of Me & Mrs. Jones as a confused yet honest character that he hopes viewers will sympathize with.
"Liam isn't your average hardnosed hack, but, as a failed novelist, getting his front-page story is the next best thing for him," Green says. "It's his way of gaining some self-worth and praise. And although he has gone slightly wayward in the world, Liam is not really a bad person -- he remains honest to his beliefs, despite the consequences."
Green feels certain the audience will also relate to Liam's predicament, the conflict between the professional and the personal.
"Liam's journey is a human one," he explains. "Essentially he is lonely, and it isn't until he meets Laura that he discovers who he really is. Laura and Liam share common ground. They are both lonely and very aware that they are only human and will make mistakes."
The idea of the prime minister falling in love with a tabloid journalist who is trying to ambush her election campaign seems hard to comprehend, but Green insists that Me & Mrs. Jones isn't about politics.
"It's not a political thriller or even a political drama; it is a love story set against the backdrop of politics, and every event feeds the love story. Liam loves Laura's honesty, vulnerability, and her mind. She is an incredibly smart woman who has a very healthy ambition for life -- and, of course, she is extremely attractive."
And, according to Green, Caroline Goodall, who plays the prime minister, is not so bad herself. "Caroline is fantastic," Green says of his costar. "She is a star and has the ability to speak without talking. She possesses that something you can't quantify and that you are compelled to watch."
Goodall: playing the prime minister, and if life were to imitate art
Caroline Goodall admits she was more than a little shocked when she was offered the part of the prime minister.
"Being asked to be the prime minister isn't a role that comes up every day," Goodall says, "so I was extremely excited about the prospect."
It was not just the role itself, but also the multi-faceted subject matter, that intrigued Goodall. "The relationship between the media and politics really fascinates me, and the fact that this production raises the question of whether as a public figure you are allowed a personal life," she says. "There is also the issue of women and power which I find interesting, so I was very keen to play a powerful woman who also had a three-dimensional side to her."
Goodall says, in fact, that the private life of this very public figure is the film's focus: "Me & Mrs. Jones ... goes behind the scenes of Downing Street and looks into all aspects of Laura's private life. It looks at the conflict between her needs as a human being and as a woman. It also deals with a number of modern dilemmas, such as being a mother who not only tries to help her son with his homework, but who juggles running the home whilst working, too. There is also the situation of being in a loveless marriage. Laura does not consciously stay in a bad relationship because she wants her image to remain squeaky clean, but rather that she has so much on her plate she can not deal with it, and nor can her husband."
Although politics figure into the film -- Goodall is, after all, playing the prime minister -- she, like Green, views the political aspect as the backdrop to the love story.
"When Laura meets Harry Fletcher, a.k.a. Liam Marple, Me & Mrs. Jones goes from being a story about a woman trying to win the next election to a woman trying to be herself and get back in touch with her relationships and with her children," she explains. "Her immediate attraction to Liam is the fact that he is charming, open, casual and self-confident. He also asks her to dance, and that is something nobody has done for years, because they haven't had the guts."
Goodall says that, despite Liam's betrayal, Laura is so excited by the way he makes her feel that the blow is softened.
"Liam liberates her. She sees a likeness between them in the respect that, like herself, Liam has a public and personal life: On one hand he is paid to lie, and on the other he is completely honest. They share a journey of finding their own credibility."
Goodall admits that if she were given the chance to be prime minister, her choice of Cabinet would most likely put a few noses out of joint.
"As chancellor [of the exchequer, akin to the U.S. treasury secretary], I would want someone who is very rich in case we got into difficulties, so it would have to be the Duke of Westminster. Arts minister would be Terry Gilliam [writer and director of several of the Monty Python films], because he has such an extraordinary vision of the world and is also great fun. I'd appoint Nigella Lawson [author of How To Be a Domestic Goddess] as [minister] of agriculture and farming, as she is the queen of the kitchen and could always whip up a mean omelet -- plus she has been in Number 11 before [as daughter of former chancellor Nigel Lawson]. John Cleese has been the minister of funny walks, so he can be head of transport. [Journalist and BBC News presenter] Jeremy Paxman would be education minister because he would have all the answers, and I'm such a great fan. And finally, I'd choose Chris Patten [commissioner of the European Commission] as foreign secretary, as I feel he has done a fantastic job."
The whole experience has been wonderful in Goodall's eyes not just because of her role, but because she got to work alongside Robson Green, who, in the production, gets to sing as well as act. (He recorded the title song as well as one other track for the film.)
"Robson is such a fantastic actor -- it has been a gift working alongside him," she says. "He can dance like a dream; he can sing and is such a heartthrob, with those beautiful blue eyes. In fact, he is like the English Paul Newman, really."
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