Annette Bening has said she initially turned down the role in her latest film because she “thought there were too many words”.
The American Beauty actress, 62, plays a woman whose husband suddenly leaves her after 30 years of marriage in Hope Gap.
She told the PA news agency: “I thought it was really strong and original, painful, very well-written, but I couldn’t make it work as a film because I thought there were too many words.
“The director, Bill Nicholson, had written me a beautiful and very thoughtful letter and talked about how it was based on his own life, and my instinct at the moment was ‘I cannot tell this man that I think there are too many words, that is rude and presumptuous, so the better thing to do is just to pass’.
“So I passed, and then about a week later I thought to myself, ‘That was so stupid, why did I do that? I should have just called him up’. So I did. I just picked up the phone and called him and told him my concern, and he said ‘Of course, don’t worry’. He’s a very charming man, and so we ended up meeting halfway in New York and we just went from there.”
The movie is based on the real-life experience of the British film-maker, who was a young man when, after three decades of marriage, his father announced he was leaving his mother for another woman, triggering a family crisis.
Bening’s role is based on his mother and she said: “I like how impossible she is, I love that.
“I feel like this is what women have been complaining about in terms of storytelling, that we want women to be written in the way we somehow can identify.
“Not that every woman is like Grace but she has these contradictions inside of her and she can be absolutely impossible and I can identify with that, I can identify with the idea that there are times that we have that response to things and that’s human and that’s part of who we are.
“Seeing that reflected in writing, I respond to that, I know that’s good writing, when she’s not always doing what we think she ‘should do’.
“Grace is a model of someone who is responding to a crisis in a way that is so particular and in total denial to such a degree I can look back and can laugh because she’s so irrational and that is the way life presents itself at times.”
Hope Gap is in cinemas and on Curzon Home Cinema now.