Un­sta­ble train makes van­ish­ing act fun for Hawes

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - TELEVISION -

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.

Kee­ley Hawes

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