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Miranda Richardson - Spider

Interviewed by David Michael
updated 31st December 2002

Last heard playing the shrewish Mrs Tweedy in Aardman's "Chicken Run", British actress Miranda Richardson makes a welcome return to the big screen playing three roles in David Cronenberg's unsettling "Spider"...

DM: You once did a one-woman theatre production ('Orlando'). Did you see playing three roles in "Spider" as a chance to do a one-woman film?

MR: [Laughing] No, no - team player me, team player!

DM: How come you were attached to the film before David Cronenberg?

MR: The producer, Catherine Bailey, approached me. I'd worked with her doing a radio production for the BBC and she'd mentioned the script. We read it at [screenwriter] Patrick McGrath's house a couple of years prior to doing the film. Ralph [Fiennes] was also involved in that reading, but David wasn't attached at that point.
Everything then went very quiet. But further down the line, it suddenly was all happening. Catherine had approached David - who she thought was the right man for the job. He loved the project and she said, "This is who we're thinking about casting,". He said great, and the rest is history.

DM: How was your experience of working with David Cronenberg? Is he very controlling?

MR: No, I felt very free - you come to the set in a spirit of play. You know what the script is and you're not going to depart radically from it, but David is always fascinated, delighted, and interested in what the actors are doing. He notices everything - it's very gratifying.

DM: What did you bring to your performance that wasn't originally there?

MR: Well, David kept a lot of the improv stuff. When Gabriel Byrne and I are messing about and falling over each other walking down the street - we made that stuff up. It made its way into the movie so he obviously felt it was appropriate. It's always fun; to feel you've contributed in that way.
The last time I felt like that was in [Robert Altman's 1996 drama] "Kansas City". Rob told me to go away and think about this scene for a few days. I had to write a speech for my character and it was included in the movie. It's great to feel like you've made a very muscular contribution to what you're doing.