Unstable train makes vanishing act fun for Hawes
BRITISH actress Keeley Hawes says making the psychological thriller The Lady Vanishes really did rock.
The BBC telemovie remake of Alfred Hitchcock’s mystery is set on a train travelling across Europe in the 1930s.
Hawes says the set, complete with a dining car, a passenger bar and lounge car, was superbly crafted to resemble a vintage train, but there was one vital missing component. There were no motion simulators.
That meant the actors pretended the train was in motion as they walked through the carriages delivering lines, says Hawes.
‘‘They couldn’t afford a gimbal, which makes the train rock, so we had to sway as we walked and performed our lines,’’ Hawes says.
‘‘It led to lots of hysterics during the filming . . . it’s like patting your head and rubbing your tummy at the same time.
‘‘You could say we really did rock.’’
Hawes had never seen Hitchcock’s 1938 version of The Lady Vanishes or the 1979 remake starring Elliott Gould and Cybill Shepherd before she landed the role of Mrs Todhunter.
After being cast in a leading role and having read the script, curiosity got the better of Hawes and she started searching the internet for Hitchcock’s version.
She found a clip of The Lady Vanishes and watched it for a minute before deciding she’d seen enough.
‘‘I looked it up on YouTube to get some idea of the original. All I could get was a clip of some screaming hysterical people on a train and guns going off and thought that’s not what I had just read,’’ she says.
The Lady Vanishes is based on the 1936 novel The Wheel Spins by Ethel Lina White.
In the latest retelling, Governess Miss Froy, who vanishes, is not a British MI6 agent, a difference from Hitchcock’s tale.
Hawes has often been cast in period dramas and TV series, including Upstairs Downstairs and Moonstone.
Her latest film, Mariah Mundi and the Midas Box, due to be released later this year, is set in the past.
‘‘They (period pieces) do get more interesting and I’ve got more in me,’’ Hawes laughs.
‘‘ Mariah Mundi is a sort of big bold number in the vein of Harry Potter, a kids’ fantastical adventure and that’s also a period piece and hopefully it’s the start of a trilogy.’’
– DARREN CARTWRIGHT
The Lady Vanishes: Sunday, 8.30pm, UKTV.