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 The World of Film in Australia - on the Internet Updated Friday December 13, 2019 

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DUIGAN, VIRGINIA : LOVE TO ORDER

With a husband and a brother as filmmakers, Virginia Duigan is well positioned to be a scriptwriter. Her first original feature screenplay, The Leading Man, has now been made by her brother, John Duigan; her husband, Bruce Beresford, never read the script, but liked the film. Virginia spoke to Andrew L. Urban about her Leading Man. (Australian release: May 22 1997.)

Q: Was there ever a question of who - between your husband or your brother - would make the film? Did Bruce . .
A: He never read the script. He said he was going to, and at one point he read the first ten pages and stopped. But I decided itís better he didnít. It wouldíve been very difficult for me to cope if he didnít like it!

Q: What event or idea triggered this screenplay for you?
A: Iím always interested in contemporary morays and the merry go round of peopleís emotional life. I got the idea that you could hire someone to come in and sort of cause the other person to fall in love with them.

Q: A sort of Ďlove to orderí . . .
A: Thatís how it started. And Iím also interested in the Faustian legend, that in life a certain key decision can lead to major, unexpected changes.

Q: It is set in London, but it wasnít originally, was it?
A: I wrote the first draft with money from the Womenís Film Fund and it was set in Sydney. Then an American producer read it and liked it and suggested changing the setting, so I rewrote it with a New York setting. The film nearly got off the ground - several times actually, but then when John (Duigan) came in, we agreed that London was the best location for it.

Q: Did the character of Robin Grange change in these re-writes?
A: He was always an American, and his character remained constant. He was complete from the start, a manipulative and adaptable and ambitious man Ö

Q: What was your relationship to this character . . . how did you feel about him?
A: Thatís a very interesting question; thereís a side of me that likes the audacity and the ability to put his own interests first. He is a man with exceptional charm which can win people over and seduce them. On the other hand, he can wreak havoc - Iíve seen people like that operating and for the innocent, they can be catastrophic.

Q: The character of Elena, played by Anna Galiena, is interesting because she changes so much . . .
A: Yes, she probably changed the most in various drafts, too. She has the biggest journey and sheís the one who comes out the best in a way. I didnít want her to be a victim and sheís ended up bigger and stronger. From the beginning I felt that all the characters had to be likeable and recognisable - the Americans had a bit of trouble with this notion - and that they are simply caught up in the circumstances, doing things they normally wouldnít. And I think John has been lucky with his cast - or should I say, he has chosen his cast shrewdly.

Q: And whatís next on the keyboard?
A: Iím chewing on an idea about a group of Sydney people who go off on a Puccini and Verdi tour to Europe. Theyíre all middle aged or a bit older, and havinmg their mid life crises . . . it was inspired by a friend of mine who takes these tours and her stories of what happens. There are lots of opportunities to play the human dramas out against a backdrop of these grand old European buildings, and of course, the music. Itís tentatively titled The Time of Our Lives.

SYNOPSIS:
Felix Webb (Lambert Wilson), a successful English playwright with a new play in rehearsal, The Hit Man, is dithering whether to desert his perfect wife Elena (Anna Galiena) and family, for Hilary (Thandie Newton) a beautiful feisty young actress, who has just been cast as the star of his play. He loves both of them and his decency holds him back from walking out. The director, Humphrey Beal (Barry Humphries) has also cast a better known American star, Robin Grange (Jon Bon Jovi), in the co-starring role. Grange is a charismatic but dangerous young man, who quickly exploits the situation by offering to seduce Elena, as a kind of love therapy. But if that werenít enough, Grange proves to be an expert manipulator who insinuates himself into all their lives, like some corrupting fluid.

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"... at one point he read the first ten pages and stopped. But I decided itís better he didnít." on husband Bruce Beresford and her script

"Iím also interested in the Faustian legend, that in life a certain key decision can lead to major, unexpected changes." on 'love to order'

See Reviews

"He was complete from the start, a manipulative and adaptable and ambitious man Ö" on the character of Robin Grange

"I think John has been lucky with his cast - or should I say, he has chosen his cast shrewdly." on Leading Man cast

"Iím chewing on an idea about a group of Sydney people who go off on a Puccini and Verdi tour to Europe" on next project







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