Bel Ami Production Notes-Optimum Releasing
"We asked actors that we really wanted to work with, people that we have admired for a long time, explains Donnellan of their casting choices. "Kristin Scott Thomas we know of old. Uma Thurman, Christina Ricci and Robert Pattinson we have always admired. There’s also Colm Meaney, a wonderful Irish actor who plays Rousset and Phillip Glenister. They are all actors we love."
Ormerod and Donnellan were thrilled to be working with such a diverse cast. Donnellan describes the moment that the actors turned up for rehearsals. "It was absolutely fantastic to see them arriving one after another. They are all incredibly professional and great fun with wicked senses of humour in their own different ways; Uma, Kristin and Christina are all very different people. We had a ball, an absolutely wonderful time because the material was so fantastic, the roles and screenplay are fantastic. Everybody felt like they were being stretched, especially us because it was our first movie. Kristin, Christina, Uma and Robert would all agree that they were doing things they hadn’t done before, which was what made it so thrilling."
Talking about Georges' costumes
Dicks-Mireaux explains how the costumes she designed for Georges help to tell the story of his progression throughout the film. "He wears black virtually all the way. Maupassant writes very clearly about starching, and we spend a lot of time and effort on the shirts. This period is a very transitional period between the boiled shirt and the pleated shirt so we’ve done a combination of the two. We’ve engineered this ingenious way of making sure we can always have the stiff cuffs. I’ve gone for very high collars on Robert because he suits them really well and it makes them all stand up correctly. If you look at the British royal family they seem to wear a slightly broader look. You look at the French drawings and they seem to have a much tighter, narrower look - a bit like Christian Dior suits: that very pinched, nice, narrow, elegant, long lined leg. He had a journey and then right at the end of the journey he sort of dips and goes a little bit more bourgeois and slightly pompous. He thought he might have a moustache at the end."
Georges 'Bel Ami' Duroy
The central character of Georges was a complex and captivating subject for Rachel Bennette, as she explains. "Georges is a difficult character, that’s what makes him so fascinating. He’s quite enigmatic in certain respects and he’s not a typical character in many ways. He’s very reactive as opposed to the active protagonist that you’re used to. So it was a question of trying to get the measure of him."
"He never works and he still gets it all. That’s what’s so maddening about Georges Duroy," Donnellan concurs. "He gets the lot with no effort and it’s something we have to live with. Georges has a talent to get to the top and he’s a businessman with one commodity to sell. Another thrilling thing about Georges is his emptiness; people can project anything into him which is another reason why he’s so successful."
Bennette concludes: "I find Georges really compelling, even if I don’t always like him. There’s something about his audacity, and his daring, and his absolute refusal to be told his place. And there is something quite appealing about that: essentially it is a kind of mad courage that he has."
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