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'Fate Draws Richardson to Role'

August 13, 1996
By Louis B. Hobson, Calgary Sun

A little Hollywood guy named Oscar has tried twice to get a date with British actress Miranda Richardson only to stand her up at the last minute.

In 1992, Richardson was nominated for best-supporting actress for her shattering performance opposite Jeremy Irons in Damage. She lost to Marisa Tomei in My Cousin Vinny.

In 1995, she was nominated as best actress for her portrayal of T.S. Eliot's wife in Tom And Viv. The Oscar went to Jessica Lange in Blue Sky. "It sounds cliched, but it's true that being nominated is a great enough honor," says Richardson, whose films also include Enchanted April, Crying Game and Dance With A Stranger. "What happens when you get nominated is that producers and directors are suddenly aware of you again, so you get a few more offers than you normally would. "On a personal level, it means that with each new picture after the nomination you have to keep trying to top yourself."

In Robert Altman's Kansas City, Richardson plays the drug-addicted wife of a politician. She's kidnapped by a young hood's girlfriend (Jennifer Jason Leigh). Altman wrote the role for Kim Basinger.

"Kim got pregnant and I had to replace her quickly because we were scheduled to begin filming. I couldn't find an American actress who wasn't already committed," says Altman. "An agent put me on to Miranda. She promised me she could do the American accent so I hired her. It was one of those wonderful acts of fate."

Richardson was confident she could pull off the trick of appearing American because she'd "done it several times on stage." "It's been my dream to play an American woman in an American movie, so this was an offer I couldn't refuse."
There was also the prospect of working with Altman who she calls "an absolute maverick".
"He does what he wants to do and he loves a fight. This appeals to me as an actress because working with him becomes the best part of being a student again.Every day on the set was a learning experience."

In the film, Richardson's socialite and her kidnapper become great friends.
"It's what happened off camera as well. Jennifer and I are now practically inseparable. "I'm appalled that the industry doesn't recognize what an incredible talent Jennifer is. She is a power they can't seen to reckon with."