Most people have heard the idiom ‘the die is cast’, an expression meaning that events have passed the point of no return. Once you sign a lead actor to the key role of your film, and all the legal paper work is drawn up, the die certainly is cast….on your cast. A director needs to think carefully about who will be the lead in her film, since the lead is its focus and the director will spend a LOT of time with him or her.
We actively pursued Joanne Kelly to play the role of our nurse, Josephine. We needed someone who could be strong and gentle, caring yet distant, and voyeuristic while still vulnerable . That was a tall order, but we knew she could do it. We’ve been fans of her work since the Bay of Love and Sorrows (2002) and over the years she has starred in numerous roles, most recently as Myka Bering in Syfy’s hit show Warehouse 13 (2009-2014).
Joanne and I grew up together in Bay D’Espoir, Newfoundland. And even when we were in our teens, she was uncommonly stunning, talented and intelligent. It was evident she was destined for great things, so it came as no surprise when she excelled in acting on big and small screens worldwide. After she said yes to starring in Sadie, we were off to the races!
Working with an actor of her calibre is a dream. With any motivation I threw at Joanne, she delivered, and then some. When I was debating a beat, or a moment in a scene, Joanne had many valuable contributions, as well. As a director, from the time you arrive on set, until the day is done, you are constantly making decisions, so when your lead actor is a good partner, you feel immense gratitude, but also a sense of reciprocity. This is a very rewarding feeling. And I think, leads to a better film.
Attitude is as important as talent, ask anyone. I love to work with calm and focused people – it makes the grueling days joyous. Joanne was exactly that, and up for anything. She came home from sunny California and faced a 4.5 hr time zone difference. Within a day, we had her out in NL weather, hands in cold water, at times wearing nothing but a nightdress in bitter wind. She never complained once (but look for her breath in nearly every shot which speaks to the cold we were all in)!
Joanne and I hadn’t seen each other in quite some time, maybe 15 years, and I envisioned she’d be the same person she’d always been: down to earth, fun, charming and filled with artistic integrity. And she was. I was very lucky to share and explore Sadie with someone from my home. If you said I rolled the die on suggesting Joanne for our film, I would say I rolled a perfect 6.
As with all posts we try to leave you with something to watch based on what we’re writing about. In honour of my pleasurable working experience with Joanne, I researched a few director-actor relationships that seemed steeped in mutual respect. Here are some cool movies with a female director and a female lead:
1. Water (2005), directed by Deepa Mehta, starring Lisa Ray (Canada)
2. In a Better World (2010), directed by Susanna Bier, starring Trine Dyrholm (Denmark)
3. Strange Days (1995), directed by Kathryn Bigelow, starring Angela Bassett (USA)
By Latonia Hartery