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'Richardson Plays the Perfect Patsy'

By Rick Overall, Ottawa Sun, December 22, 1996

Miranda Richardson is quite the chameleon. The British actor has deftly fashioned herself a spectacularly caustic personality for The Evening Star's Patsy Carpenter by blending equal parts Absolutely Fabulous and Dallas.

The fabulously wealthy and totally conniving widow Patsy truly exudes her Ab Fab namesake in many ways. She has that troublesome fashion sense, a far-reaching bent for alcohol abuse and a catty swagger that says: "Here comes trouble!". And Richardson ties it all together with a southern drawl.

"I went shopping in Houston," she recalls. "And that was a crash course in Texas-speak."

The Evening Star is a bit of a stutter-step in Richardson's career. It's decidedly more mainstream than her Oscar-nominated roles in Louis Malle's Damage and Tom & Viv, or the edgy Crying Game and then Robert Altman's Kansas City.

Needless to say, it's the first time in a long while we've seen her grab the comedy bit between her teeth with the kind of verve she displayed as Elizabeth I in British TV's Black Adder.

It was an interesting evolution for Richardson, she went all the way, especially with the fashion.  Patsy's look features a preponderance of gold -- stopping just shy of Ivana Trump.

"We went through a lot of different ideas for the look. But I'll tell you, when it came to the clothes some of the things we tried were a lot more extreme than this," Richardson says with a coy grin.

As it turns out, she felt that the film version of Patsy came out rather differently than what people might expect after reading the novel.
"I skim read Evening Star, and found Patsy's character to be a whole lot darker than what we've now got."
The animosity between Aurora and Patsy builds and builds throughout the film and eventually erupts in a hilarious, knock-down, drag-'em-out cat fight.

It looks to have been a very physical scene and Richardson says it wasn't a walk in the park.
"I'll admit that the fight was tough. "It took a lot of work for the both of us and we were both really worried about our blouses.
"That day on the set was certainly a hard day but also a happy day because of what we got."

The Evening Star is a film that exudes a modicum of humor, but it comes in fits and starts that usually involve Richardson.
Patsy's quest to steal Aurora's therapist away from her is part of Patsy's overall mission to disrupt her rival's life.

Her interplay with Twister star Bill Paxton -- who plays therapist Jerry Bruckner is also hilarious -- but she admits we'll miss out on one of the funniest scenes.
"There's a part in the film where I meet up with Jerry for dinner, but it got a little out of hand and ended up like something out of Tom Jones -- where we were feeding each other and all of that. "Unfortunately it got cut."

Richardson has been heralded as one of the bright new female lights in Hollywood and she agrees that, as part of the newest wave of actors, there's certainly hope for the future.

"You know, it's cycling around again. And because of the fact that there are so many new faces out there it feels like there's a breath of fresh air in the business these days."